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Last Updated on July 30, 2019

How to Become a Morning Person and Love It

How to Become a Morning Person and Love It

Waking up early, getting out of bed and starting the day has, for some reason, become the ultimate challenge for so many people. Yet, waking up early is one of the best things you can do.

Why? I hear you ask.

For a start, early mornings are the most beautiful time of the day. With so few people doing it, it also means it is the quietest time of the day too. It means you get to spend quality time with yourself without the risk of being interrupted or disturbed and, it means you have time to work on the things you want to work on.

Waking up early is simple. Set your alarm, go to bed, wake up when your alarm goes off. Simple eh? Well, simple, yes. Easy? Maybe not.

It can be very hard to open our eyes, get out of bed and stumble to the coffee making facilities. It’s made even harder if you didn’t go to bed until 1 or 2am.

Now if you feel waking up as late as possible, staggering out of bed bleary-eyed, turning on the coffee pot, walking around your home in a daze knowing you have only twenty-minutes before you have to leave home to get to work is a better alternative, good luck.

So how to become a morning person consistently? Here are a few steps that have worked for me.

1. Decide to Start

The first step is easy. Just decide that from now on, you are going to wake up early.

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Decide what time you want to wake up and then set the date. On the assigned day, set your alarm for the time you want to wake up and just wake up, get out of bed.

Making the decision is the easy part. Starting is the hardest. So make that decision. Once you make the decision and start it just gets easier.

2. Know How Much Sleep You need

How much sleep do you need? This was a mistake I made when I started waking up early. I did not work out how much sleep I needed.

We are all different here. Some people need nine to ten hours of sleep, others four to six. I need between six and seven hours. Once I discovered how much sleep I needed, I could modify the time I went to bed each night.

So, I need between six and seven hours sleep per night, which meant I needed to go to bed between 10pm and 10:30pm and now, for the most part, I manage to do that.

Once you know how much sleep you need, you can modify your bedtime accordingly. If you need seven hours of sleep and want to start waking up at 6 am, you should aim to be in bed by 10:30 pm. This will allow you thirty minutes to drift off and ensure you get your seven hours.

3. Have a Plan

Okay, so you are going to wake up earlier. Great, now what? What will you do with the extra hour or so? You need a plan.

Robin Sharma has been peaching about getting up at 5am for years and in his recently published book, The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning Elevate Your Life, he goes into a lot of detail about what you can do with that morning hour you create for yourself.

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Robin advocates doing 20 minutes exercise, 20 minutes planning and twenty minutes studying. I love this concept myself. I modified that a little and instead of exercise, I study Korean for thirty minutes, then do 15 minutes planning and finish the hour with 15 minutes of meditation. For me, that one hour focused on what is important to me sets me up for a perfect day.

The beauty of waking up early is you get to choose what you do with your extra time. The best advice I can give you is whatever you do with that time, make sure it is time you spend on yourself and not doing anything like checking email or your social media feeds. There will be plenty of time to do that later in the day. This morning hour is for you.

4. Pick a Date and Just Start

Slowly reducing your waking up time is a very painful way to wake up earlier. You end up prolonging the transition period and that is not pleasant. Just pick a day—Mondays are a good day to start—and wake up at the time you have chosen to wake up.

Now, I am not going to tell you it will be easy. It won’t. If you have been waking up at 7:30am for years and you start waking up at 5am, it will be difficult. You will feel rotten in the afternoon for a few days. It took me around four days to get used to waking up at 5am.

The transition period was tough. The afternoons were particularly hard. But after a few days, it became easier. I started going to bed a little earlier and after a few days, I was sleeping much better at night. All that is just part of the transition and the transition period only lasts for a few days.

Being mentally prepared for a tough few days though will make it bearable. Accept that for a few days, you will not feel great; but understand that once you pass through this transition period, you will find it much easier to wake up at your new earlier hour.

5. Don’t Overthink It, Just Do It

Once you decide you want to wake up early, just do it. Decide when you will begin, set your alarm and just do it.

Too often, we tend to overthink these things and then find all the excuses we need to prevent us from ever starting. We go to bed early, find ourselves being unable to sleep and so, we then tell ourselves that we won’t start tomorrow—we’ll start the next day instead. We end up in a perpetual cycle of never actually starting. It’s always going to be the next day or the next week.

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Look, whenever you start, it is going to be hard. But you only need a few days to transition and soon, it will be easy and it will become a habit. And then, you will wonder why it took you so long to get started.

The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to enjoy the benefits of waking up early and having an extra hour in your day for yourself to do the things you want to do, without being interrupted or distracted by other people’s crises and issues.

6. Make Your Morning Routine “Me Time”

A difficulty we all face these days is finding any time in the day just for ourselves. To read the books we want to read, to exercise and to just be with our thoughts. When you begin waking up an hour or so earlier each day, you get to find that time.

Those pre-dawn hours are so quiet that you can do what you want to do without the risk of someone else disturbing you. This is your time. That is why you do not want to be using this time for doing more work.

Just enjoy the extra time you have and do the things you want to do. During the winter months, go out for a walk before the sunrises and watch it rise. In the summer months, you can open your windows and listen to the birds waking up without their song being drowned out by the noise of cars and trucks.

7. Don’t Break the Chain

The concept of ‘don’t break the chain’ is a very valuable concept to use here. Essentially, what you do is make a checkmark on a calendar or in a diary to indicate those days when you woke up and got out of bed at your desired time. After a few days, you will find you don’t want to ‘break’ your consistent run. It creates some self-competition and adds some motivation to keep you going when things get tough.

When I began waking up at 5am, I used my journal to write down the days I woke up at 5am. At the top of the page, I wrote “Day XX – 5AM Club”. Over time, it was fantastic to see the number increasing. I got to Day 173 before I had to break the chain because I flew to Europe and the time zone difference between Asia and Europe messed up my routine. The cool thing about this though, is when I returned to Asia, I restarted the count. I am now on Day 82 and I have 92 days to go to beat my previous best. That’s great motivation.

Counting the days is fun, but the reality is waking up at 5am no longer feels like a challenge. It is something I just do. It feels natural to wake up at 5am to make a coffee and sit down to study Korean. I love learning new words and phrases and the fifteen minutes of planning I have after I finish my Korean studying sets me up for a wonderful day, where I am completely focused on my objectives. Then, I have my fifteen minutes of quiet meditation before making my breakfast and starting my day.

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8. Just Enjoy the Time

With everything that goes on in our lives throughout the day, it can be hard just to have a moment to ourselves. To reflect, appreciate and be grateful for what we have. The time you create for yourself by waking up early gives you that time and so, don’t waste it thinking about the problems you have to deal with. Use the time positively and appreciate it.

Listen to your favourite music, the birds or a beautiful meditative album. Whatever you decide to do, this is your time so just enjoy it.

The Bottom Line

Waking up early gives you space. Space for yourself in a world designed to distract you. It gives you the time to reflect, work on the things you want to do and enjoy some quiet ‘me time’.

All you need to do is decide to wake up earlier, then set the date and begin. All a little time for the transition and just enjoy the time you have for yourself.

Remember to set a date when you will start and just start. Accept there will be a short transition period. The sooner you start, the sooner waking up early will be easy. Then, have a plan for what you will do with your extra morning time and make it “me time”. Also, appreciate the quiet and beauty all around you and wallow in the pleasure it brings you.

More About Becoming a Morning Person

Featured photo credit: Keenan Constance via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

1. Canvas Network

Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

2. Google Classroom

This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

4. Absorb

This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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5. Watershed Collaborative

Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

Honorable Mentions

There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

  1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
  2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
  3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
  4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
  5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

Conclusion

There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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