After almost 30 years of being an avid anti-morning person (I almost had protest signs made), I now wake up early every day – at 6am to be exact (including weekends!) While my attitude toward mornings changed overnight, getting to a point where I could wake up early without wanting to cry has taken over a year to accomplish.
It all started when I read Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. This was at a time where I was fed up with my hectic lifestyle – a lifestyle we’re all made to feel we “should” want – so I began spending every spare moment learning various ways to get out of my rut. I learned not only who out of the insanely successful wake up early, but why, and how they spend that time. It sounded glorious!
So that settled it: I was going to become a morning person. Clearly you’d like to do the same or you wouldn’t be here. So, without further ado, here are 10 simple strategies on how to wake up early:
1. Let go of your morning baggage.
Like me, you’ve probably spent years cultivating your “mornings are evil” attitude: hitting the snooze button 37,256 times, dragging yourself out of bed just to grunt like a cave person until your coffee’s ready, and sharing every “I hate mornings” meme you can find on Facebook.
Let it all go. Throw away every misconception embedded in you since school and start this process with a clean slate. The only way you’ll succeed is if your mind remains open and free of negativity.
2. Picture your ideal morning.
This is one of those rare situations where you actually can make your fantasy a reality. Picture yourself as the morning person you want to become: what do your mornings consist of? Are you quietly drinking your coffee on the patio? Reading a book? Doing yoga?
Also, what’s the atmosphere like? This will help you lay the groundwork for what will later become your morning routine. For example, if you want to drink your coffee on the patio but your dog won’t even spend time on it, use days off to create an environment you’d want to wake up to.
3. Tell only your loved ones about your plans.
At first, only share the changes you’d like to make with those you live with, since they too have to adjust to your new routine. Don’t tell anyone else until you’ve made considerable progress. Otherwise, their attitude toward mornings might negatively impact your frame of mind – or worse, their lack of follow-through in their own lives might rub off on you.
4. Only focus on one act at a time.
Don’t do what I did and attempt to set a deadline for when you’d like to wake up early – it won’t happen. You never know what circumstances will get in the way of your progress, whether it be emotional resistance, or personal or professional setbacks. Take your time.
Focus on one act at a time: take note of what time you wake up now and when you’d like to wake up from now on. Set your alarm for 15 to 30 minutes earlier, and once you’re comfortable getting up at that time, set it earlier again, and again, until you’re comfortably waking up at your new early time.
5. Find an alarm that doesn’t turn you into the Hulk.
Some people have no problem with alarm clocks, but I find the beeping to be unnerving. I’m more comfortable waking up to the radio – it’s less abrupt and helps me transition into waking up, as opposed to startling me into an anxiety attack. Test out various alarm options and see which works best for you.
6. Keep your mornings pressure-free.
One thing we tend to lose as adults is the feeling of freedom we had as kids. When we had no sense of schedule, deadlines, goals, or pressure, we were always emotionally available and our imaginations made us feel like anything was possible. I’m not sure when this became “uncool,” but it’s truly the best way to start your day.
What are the things you always want to do but never get to do? Establish what you love to do into your morning routine and stop feeling guilty about it! Not only will you start your work day refreshed and motivated, you’re more likely to wake up early when you’re excited to do so. When I started doing exactly what I wanted to do in the morning, my attitude toward everything changed and I became better equipped to handle future stress and challenges.
There’s no better feeling than creating a protected pocket of time when you can do what you love for no other reason than you want to.
7. Eliminate excuses to sleep in.
As you continue to adjust your sleep cycle, some days will be harder than others. There will be mornings where you’ll do everything to justify shutting off your alarm and going right back to sleep. Sometimes it will work, and you’ll want to slap yourself later for letting it happen.
During this rough patch, do what you can to make your mornings easier: if you’re so tired you even dread making coffee, program your coffee maker. If your home is cold in the morning, leave your housecoat and slippers beside your bed. If your mind flat lines when you try to decide on breakfast, decide the night before and prep the ingredients. Eventually, your abilities to wake up early and function will happen at the same time, but for now, throw yourself a bone.
8. Refuse to break the chain.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the productivity hack “break the chain,” where you consider each day you accomplish your new habit a “chain link.” If you miss a day, you break the chain. It’s a great (and simple) way to stay motivated and push through the mornings you’d rather bathe with a toaster than wake up early.
9. Keep track of what you’ve accomplished.
One of the biggest motivators to continue waking up early is keeping track of what you accomplish when you first get up. By 9am, I have all of my major work accomplished while everyone else is just getting started. It gives a sense of calm to the rest of my day, because I don’t have to worry about interruptions or distractions preventing me from accomplishing my goals – they’re already met. Game. Set. Match.
10. Practice waking up early.
If you’re struggling to break up with your snooze button, try this: during the day, setup your bedroom as if it’s early morning and your alarm’s about to go off. Set your alarm for a few minutes from now, and practice getting up when it goes off sans snooze button. Alarm goes off, stand up. Alarm goes off, stand up, and so forth. This practice will eventually translate into you waking up early – and successfully.
Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com