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Waking up Early Is Easier Than You Think: 10 Simple Things Early Risers Do

Waking up Early Is Easier Than You Think: 10 Simple Things Early Risers Do

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

More by this author

Raphael Ha

Writer. Still waiting his chance to travel the world.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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