When I was a kid my mum used to shake me out of sleep really early every day. This also routinely happened on the weekends – which you surely can imagine, I hated. Later, when I moved out on my own I began to sleep in much longer and I enjoyed it at first, but at one stage I realized that this habit starts to cut many hours out of your day that could otherwise be used more productively. And it makes it also much more difficult to get going once you finally ARE up. So I began to search for some strategies for me to become a morning person and start rising early again. Yes, Mums really seem to know what is actually best for you – unfortunately you have to go on and make your own painful mistakes in order to appreciate this.
As I think back now, getting up really early has given me so much energy along with countless other benefits. I now start my day in a much more active and positive way and it carries over into every part of my life. What would you do if you got up a few hours earlier plus had the right amount of energy to use this time well?
How about enjoying the early hours of the day all by yourself while nobody else is awake to disturb you? Why not start by reading your favourite book and meditating? Or take the time to work out and then take a short walk to the nearby park?
But how exactly do you accomplish this? How do you become a morning person?
Below you find a 7 day plan that will help you to become an early riser within a week. Just focus on each consecutive step and on changing that small area of your life it focuses on. And within a few days you might be ready to implement one of the most productive changes of your life. So let’s dig in!
Preparation Stage: Get your mindset straight.
Most of us already know that changing our mindset is Key to the improvement in many areas of our lives. Yet still the advice to just switch to a better mindset often comes with as much specifications from the author as you would get from the average Nike commercial. In order to not leave you hanging let me explain to you what I mean exactly.
Many of us have become worshippers of the night while dreading the mornings. One of the reasons may be that it is far easier to stay up late than it is to get up early. Most of our day’s fun activities take place in the late evenings and at nighttime, while the early mornings would in most cases rather be associated with facing all the unpleasant realities of life. If you aren’t a morning person yet, I bet that you like to go out late at night, watch movies, surf the web, or keep reading books until its almost morning time – all activities that are very difficult to put aside to get a good night’s rest instead.
In contrast to this it might be that your mornings look dull and uninspiring, filled with routine activities that you only feel disdain for. So I challenge you to change this. But don’t be afraid, becoming a morning person doesn’t mean quitting all the fun evening and nighttime activities altogether. What it rather means is creating equally as much or even more fun for your morning time so that you naturally make the choice to go to sleep and get a good night’s rest while looking forward to your next day.
Day 1 – Create an awesome morning routine.
It is important to start your day in a strong and positive way – no matter what time you get up at. It’s a good rule of thumb to focus on the first hour of the day and to become extra sensitive about how it is you spend it exactly. Sit down for a moment and make a list of all the things that you enjoy doing as well as all the things that you benefit from doing (e.g. working out, reading something informational, eating a healthy breakfast, etc.).
Once you have your list think about how you could combine as many of these activities as possible into a great morning routine. Don’t discard some of them right away just because the execution might be too daunting. Remember that it is about changing your entire mindset. If you very much like your daily trip to the local park, who says that you can’t do it right away in the morning even before your breakfast? Set aside your slave-like view of the usual dreadful morning torture and create the most amazing time of your entire day instead – one that makes you eager to wake up and get started.
Day 2 – Create morning myopia.
This one is very important. It is fairly easy to become a morning person and jump out of bed if you are really looking forward to your day. But what if your job sucks along with your overall situation? I certainly have had my fair share of these times in my life and of course the long-term solution is to change the overall situation.
But there is a way to improve it in the short term – right here, right now. It’s what I call “morning myopia”. Instead of thinking ahead to your whole day and how much you dislike a lot of it already the evening before, try to create your little bubble of awesomeness in the morning and direct your focus solely to it. And when you wake up in the morning immediately banish all thoughts about the rest of the day as they come up and redirect your focus to those first 1 – 2 hours only.
Just try this one out along with creating your awesome morning routine and see how your entire perspective at bedtime as well as in the morning changes.
Day 3 – Create a soothing bedtime routine and sleep well.
This is the next logical step once you have taken care of your morning routine. In order to rise early and full of energy you of course have to sleep well. Now the interesting part of sleeping well is this: your body does it all by itself.
While sleeping is not to be viewed as an inactive state – in fact there is a mindboggling amount of activity going on regarding reparation of the brain and muscle as well as other tissue – it’s fairly good news that our body doesn’t require much assistance from our side. All it wants is us to eliminate all the factors that might impair its work.
In order to do so make sure you are well hydrated before going to bed, haven’t eaten much in the hours preceding your bedtime so you don’t put too much strain on your digestive system, have ample fresh air available in your bedroom, don’t get disturbed by any light sources or make use of a sleep mask and also find a way to wind down a bit, clear your mind and de-stress from the day’s events. A short walk, a hot shower or bath and a few pages of a good book should take care of this.
So once again, make a list of all the things that will help you get into a calm mindset before bed and also the things that you can do to eliminate all the distractions and factors that might inhibit your sleep.
Day 4 – Prepare your morning the day before.
Now that we have established how important it is to create an awesome morning routine it is time to take the load of regarding all the unpleasant and routine tasks that your morning usually brings along. The solution is simple: do everything the night before. At least everything that is feasible.
Why not prepare breakfast in the evening in order to focus on more pleasant things in the morning? Unless you really enjoy setting up the breakfast table etc. in the morning do it the night before instead. This way you only have to make coffee or tea or whatever your morning beverage of choice is. Think of other ways you can improve your morning by shifting the tasks to the evening instead. Things that come to mind are preparing the clothes you are going to wear, packing your briefcase for work, writing your to-do list as well as preparing your food for the day and your gear for your workout.
Take a closer look at your usual morning routine and make a list of all the things you can prepare in advance. It will make your (morning)-life much easier – I promise.
Day 5 – Work out in the morning.
Apart from all the reasons why it is a good idea to have your workout in the morning rather than any other time of the day (it’s easier to plan for it, less potential distractions etc.) there is on the flip-side also a very important reason why you should fill your morning with a workout: it’s simply the best and fastest way to become widely awake and fully active. Let’s leave the usual science-crap about hormones like melatonin and adrenalin aside and just do a simple 2-day experiment:
The morning of day 1 get up the usual way and just pay attention to your thoughts, your levels of drowsiness as well as the way you generally behave throughout your morning and the rest of the day. On the morning of day 2 get up and then right away (you can take 5 – 10 minutes to brush your teeth or get ready) perform a short workout routine that involves your whole body. 2 – 5 minutes is enough, try something like burpees or a mix of push-ups and squats to get the bulk of your musculature going. If you have a cross-trainer or stationary bike at your home you can choose this for a medium-length burst of quite-intense activity. Then – immediately after you’re finished – go immediately to your bathroom and take a cold shower. Nothing fancy, just don’t turn on any warm water and proceed as usual with your favorite showering routine. Then do as the day before – observe your levels of drowsiness, activity etc. throughout the morning and the rest of the day and see if you feel better than the day before.
If you don’t, please make sure to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as you might be a rare specimen requiring further study as well as instantaneous removal from society due to public safety issues.
If you decide that you do feel better and want to incorporate a workout into your new morning routine try the following:
Start small. If you plan a much too heavy, long and tedious exercise regimen right away you might experience some workout anxiety and as a result even oversleep in anticipation of the overwhelming task waiting for you after waking up. To avoid this just start with something short and simple and do it for a few days or weeks until you are used to it and ready to take on more of a challenge.
You don’t need to transfer your whole workout routine to the morning time right away if you are currently doing way more than just a few minutes of exercise. Just practice the skill of getting up and being able to do something challenging with your body for some time until you get comfortable with it and then push yourself to the next level.
Day 6 – Fully commit to being a morning person – 7 days a week.
Now that the weekend is here it’s time to face the harsh truth: being a morning person is not a Monday ‘til Friday thing – it’s 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Now that you have taken care of 5 very important areas of becoming an early riser it’s crucial that you implement this last – but very important one: choose your time for getting up and stick to it every day. Notice how I said EVERY DAY? Now, I am fully aware how in many circles “every day” means “Mon – Fri” or “whenever I fell like it” but I’m afraid that your body’s inner clock is much less forgiving. If you wake up at fairly the same time during the week and then sleep in for 3 or more hours longer on the weekend you are just setting yourself up for a heavily disturbed body temperature curve resulting in Sunday night insomnia and a Monday morning disaster. So do yourself a favor and stick to your regular rising time.
Just give this a try for a weekend and see whether you have an easier time falling asleep on Sunday night and getting up on Monday morning. If you start getting up early on your weekends as well start by scheduling some really awesome activities so you can make good use of those newly gained hours.
Day 7 – Don’t take the tip-toeing approach and dive right in.
For the final step I would like to propose a challenge. Now that you have all your routines in place it is time to make a habit out of all of this.
So I want you to circle in a date 30 days from now and think about the reward you will give yourself if you manage to get up early at each one of those days. Then take a stack of post-it’s and without pulling them apart write the numbers from 30 down to 1 on each consecutive piece forming a one-month-long countdown. After getting up at your desired time you can then pull one post-it away and give yourself a pat on the back. You did well.
A word of caution: I have tried a few approaches myself and I have to warn you that easing into this by getting up 15 minutes earlier every day or something similar will just leave you feeling miserable for every day you are trying this – to the point that you might actually give up altogether. What basically happens in such a case is that your body starts getting used to a certain time of day for waking up and you just keep forcing yourself up in the middle of a sleep phase instead of at the end of one.
That’s why it’s important to go cold-turkey and dive right in. So think about at what time you would like to be getting up in the future so that you have enough time for your awesome morning routine and all the things you would like to do, set your alarm clock accordingly – and then be prepared to feel like crap tomorrow. Because it WILL happen. Just force yourself through it and proceed as usual, and I promise you – the next day it will be easier.
This wraps it up. Now you have all you need to become a morning person and start rising early. Let me know how your 30-day challenge is going and if you need any support.
Enjoy your life as a morning person!