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How To Get Up Early When Mornings Make You Cry

How To Get Up Early When Mornings Make You Cry
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Admit it. You’ve clicked on articles with titles like “10 Outrageously Successful People Share Their Morning Routines” and “How to Create The Best Morning Routine Ever.” You nod along enthusiastically to the admittedly sage (but often pretty obvious) advice contained within. Stop hitting snooze. Exercise. Eat a healthy breakfast. Meditate. Maybe you even follow that advice for a day or two. But a few days later, you’re back to your terrible morning habits.

You know what? That’s okay. Even the most basic morning routine only consistently works for morning people. And whether you’re a true morning person is determined by your genetics (or, in science class-speak, your sleep chronotype is genetically determined).

The rest of us have to live with snoozing too long and then rushing out the door with mismatched socks and un-ironed clothes. But even if you can’t change your fundamental self, you can optimize your habits to work with your genetics rather than against them.

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Here are some key habits to foster that will make your mornings a million times more pleasant:

1. Find ways to prepare the night before.

Spend a portion of every evening preparing absolutely everything you need for the next day. You know you’re going to be awake until at least midnight anyway. Why not check tomorrow’s weather report and choose your outfit during that time?

Consider purchasing a small garment rack to hang your next day’s clothes. The monetary investment and a prominent placement in your bedroom will encourage you to use it. And for those who work out, exercise before dinner. If you shower before bed, you can even steam your clothes by hanging them next to the shower to kill wrinkles, eliminating the need to iron and allowing you to sleep in later.

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2. Start your morning with something you love.

Instead of waking up and dreading the moment your feet have to touch the floor, find one quick thing to do every morning that fills you with joy and replaces hitting snooze.

This can vary widely by individual. Check your Instagram feed in bed. Read an inspirational work. Brew a cup of tea and skim the news. Heck, keep a cookie jar on your kitchen counter and enjoy a single cookie. But no matter what, strictly limit yourself to just 10-15 minutes of “joy time”–even if it means setting a timer.

3. Set reminders for your morning brain.

When you’re not a morning person it can be hard to remember to brush your teeth, let alone bring everything you need for the day. Stick reminders on the inside doorknob of your main exit using a Post-it or opaque masking tape and Sharpie with messages such as, “Take leftovers from fridge for lunch” or “Bring laptop to work.”

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Your mind can be fuzzy first thing in the morning, so this is a great way to counteract forgetfulness as you head out the door.

4. Work out a more flexible schedule.

Negotiate a later start time with your employer (maybe by pushing back your end time). Not everyone will have such an understanding boss, but if you’re a top performer, you could make the argument about why you would be a more productive and happier employee with a later start.

Get creative about finding an agreement. If you absolutely need to be working by 8 a.m., see if you can work from home until lunch so at least you can avoid the chaos of morning rush hour.

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5. Find a job you enjoy getting up for.

If you never feel enthused to go to work, chances are you haven’t found a career that lights you up…yet.

If you haven’t done the real work of exploring different careers, now is the time to start. Visit career websites, download helpful career exploration apps, and invest serious time and effort into this critical area of your life. People make their living doing an astounding range of things, and if you explore in the right places, you’ll find something that speaks to your individual interests and passions. Then getting up in the morning won’t be such a pain.

If you’re a night owl, chances are you’ll never love to get up with the sun, but you can make the process a little easier on your pre-caffeinated brain. It just takes some time developing the right habits for you.

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What other tips are there for night owls who need to get up early in the morning? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Workandapix via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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