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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 August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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