How to Become a Morning Person

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I think waking up any earlier does not come naturally in the fall and winter months, because the sun isn't up.  But that's not a reason not to try, and I'm impressed with the number of people who are using October to not only spend less and get more organized, but also to wake up earlier.  Because they know you can get more done in the day and feel more organized if you just wake up a little earlier than usual.  As someone who consistently gets up at least two hours before I have to be at my office and who maintains that schedule even on weekends, I have a few ideas to share on how to change your ways and become a morning person.  Because in college I only scheduled afternoon classes and in high school I woke up about 30 minutes before I had to be at my school that was 20 minutes away with no traffic.  I was not born a morning person.  I didn't even wake up before 10 a.m. on Christmas.  So it can be done.

First of all, you need to address - why do you want to be a morning person?  Personally, I like being up before other people because it allows me to do the home based tasks on my to do list before I have to work, go to other plans I've made, attend to someone else's needs, or just get too tired to finish them.  I like a very clean and organized home, and that takes work.  However, unlike my office job or other important and time sensitive things, it doesn't have to be done, and it definitely doesn't have to be done that morning or that day or that weekend.  But therein lies the issue - things that can so easily get pushed back, do.  By waking up early and starting on them before anything else demands my time and attention ensures that I will finish these things that are important to me.  So I do use mornings to clean and organize.  I also use mornings to work on other personal goals, namely fitness and time with Hawkeye.  I actually loathe fitness but I have to do it, so doing it first thing before I can make excuses is key.  Hawkeye and I both tend towards laziness and it only takes one of us to flop over onto the couch to signal that walk time isn't happening.  This couch flopping is much more likely to happen in the afternoons, when I'm tired from work and she's more interested in John (such is my life.)  So that is why I want to be a morning person.

Why do you?  To get started on your goals?  To get that morning jolt of productivity?  It's proven that the most successful people in history were early risers, so that can be reason enough.  And they didn't all just 'sleep less.'  Sleep is important.  I sleep at least 7.5 hours.  But knowing your why will help push you, as in all goals.

So with the why out of the way, the first step to becoming a morning person is, of course, to plan for it.  Automate a few things for the morning that will get you moving and starting the day, even if your brain isn't quite caught up yet.  This means planning and prepping a breakfast idea, setting the coffeemaker, laying out what clothes you'll need, putting gym shoes by the door if the plan is to workout, even lining up your skincare on the counter, if that will help you jumpstart the day.  The idea is to eliminate some of these mentally draining decisions in a morning that can add up and fatigue you, and instead saving that energy for things that matter, that you actually woke up for, like working on your blog.

In addition to planning ahead for the morning, you also have to count backwards to plan your sleep.  Once you establish that earlier wake up time, count back 7.5 (or 8 or more, whatever you need) hours to determine what time you'll go to bed.  The 'bedtime' function on the iPhone clock app does this for you.  It'll give you a reminder too that you need to start finishing the day and getting in bed, which is nice when you're establishing a new routine.

While you're setting that bedtime function and your morning alarm, remove the option of a snooze button.  God, I hate snooze buttons.  First of all, the fact that the iPhone snooze is 9 minutes instead of an even 10 just annoys me.  But regardless of how long the snooze is, it's frustratingly inefficient.  You gain nothing from this 9 minutes (or more, if you hit it a few times.)  You're not getting back into deep sleep, so you're not benefiting from 'more sleep.'  You're just interrupting your body's natural rhythm, which will make you feel more tired no matter how many times you hit snooze.  And you're actually setting yourself up for an anxious wake up, constantly subconsciously waiting for that next alarm, and therefore an anxious day.  When you go to edit the alarm, the last thing on the list is the snooze option, and you can toggle it off so you don't even get that button on your morning alarm.  Do that.  Set one alarm for the time you want to be up and out of bed, and wake up to it.

If that's the part you struggle with, make sure to let in natural light.  Black out curtains are doing you no favors, since your body is meant to be waking up with the sun and going to sleep when it sets.  (Night shift workers, ignore that and get you some black out curtains.)  If the light is coming into your room, your body will start to wake up.  Of course, we're entering the seasons in which the sun gets up quite late, in which case you need a back up plan.

And that is to move the alarm away from the bed.  Here's what I do - not charge my phone in my room.  I leave it in the kitchen (for a myriad of reasons but for now let's just focus on the wake up time.)  I hear the alarm go off and I have to get out of bed to go get it.  Once you're out of bed, it's less likely you'll get back in it.  Bonus points for standing up, making the bed immediately, and then allowing yourself to turn off the annoying alarm.  I shut the alarm off first because I'm in the habit of not going back to bed, and then I come back in the room to make the bed.  Since Hawkeye sometimes jumps right back in my spot, I don't always bother making it.  But if you're struggling to become a morning person, make your bed as soon as possible to remove the temptation of getting back in it.

I also think that the most important thing is to make sure you have something to look forward to.  For a lot of goals we don't love working on, we set prizes at the end.  Technically, the prize here is the added productivity and additional hours in your morning, but since there's no real end to this goal, there has to be something motivating each day to look forward to, at the very least until you're in the routine.  I'm a black coffee person, but I know for a lot of people their morning prize is a super indulgent coffee with flavored creamer or steamed milk - which you have the time to make properly, you morning person, you.  For other people, it's having the time for journaling or bible study, an extended skincare or makeup routine, or just having time for a full Parks and Rec episode while you walk the dog.  Make it enjoyable.

Just know, your body adjusts incredibly quickly, faster than you think it will.  If you stick with it for a week, you'll find that week 2 is so much easier and you'll even start waking up without the alarm.

Are you a morning person?  Are you trying to be one?

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