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Last Updated on August 20, 2020

How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart

How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart

Waking up, getting out of bed earlier, 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. If you learn how to become a morning person, you can make significant changes to your mood and health.

Why? 

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 and have a cup of coffee 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, right? 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’re a natural night owl and didn’t go to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning.

So can you learn how to become a morning person? Yes! Here are a few steps that have worked for me.

1. Educate Yourself on the Health Benefits

Being a morning person has scientifically-proven health benefits, and knowing these can push you to get into the swing of waking up earlier.

One 2014 study went so far as to suggest that taking in more sunlight in the early morning hours could result in a lower BMI (Body Mass Index). The study pointed out: “Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance”[1]. This shift in energy seems to have the effect of lowering overall BMI—impressive, right?

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Furthermore, research shows that being more evening-oriented “was also associated with traits related to lower health such as reduced sport participation, increased risk of depression and psychoticism personality, late eating, and increased smoking and alcohol usage”[2].

There is still more research to be done on this topic, but it seems clear that morning people get to experience a lot of benefits!

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.

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.

If you’re not sure how to calculate how much sleep you need, simply start to pay attention. You may even keep a journal.

Note how many hours of sleep you get each night, as well as how you feel the next day. If you find that you feel good on 6 hours, that’s what you should aim for. If you still feel groggy with 6, shoot for 8. It may take time to find your number, but it’ll be worth it.

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.

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Robin Sharma has been peaching about getting up at 5 am 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.

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 I 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. Whatever you do with that time, make sure it’s 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.

Here are some other ideas for how you can fill that hour:

  • Read.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Do yoga.
  • Paint.
  • Go for an early morning walk.
  • Squeeze in a morning workout of your choice.

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 7:30 am for years and you start waking up at 5 am, it will be difficult. You will feel rotten in the afternoon for a few days.

This step can be really difficult for some who are used to waking up later. In the first days, your body hasn’t yet adjusted to the new sleep schedule, so it will resist waking up earlier than normal. Consider putting an alarm clock out of arm’s reach to ensure that you’ll have to get up to turn it off (and don’t hit the snooze button!). This can be the momentum that gets you moving.

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Another thing that may help is exposing yourself to natural light as quickly as possible. Once you see the sun is coming up, get to a window or go outside if it’s nice. This bright light will signal to your body that it’s time to be awake.

5. Don’t Make Excuses

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 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.

If you want to learn to eliminate your excuses, check out this article.

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 and watch the sun 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”[3] 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.

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Use "Don't Break the Chain" to learn how to become a morning person.

    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 5 am, I used my journal to write down the days I woke up at 5 am. 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.

    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, so don’t waste it thinking about the problems you have to deal with. Use the time positively and appreciate it.

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

    The Bottom Line

    If you really want to learn how to be a morning person, it can definitely be done! Waking up early gives you 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.

    More About Becoming a Morning Person

    Featured photo credit: Keenan Constance via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Carl Pullein

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

    13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday How to Use Deliberate Practice to Be Good at Almost Anything The Pros and Cons of Working from Home How to Learn Effectively in the Age of Digital Distraction How to Become a Morning Person: 8 Steps to Kickstart

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    Published on October 16, 2020

    13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

    13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

    Sunday’s are amazing days. For most of us, Sunday’s are a day of rest — a chance to relax, spend time with our family and friends and step away from work. Yet, for many people, Sunday’s can be a day of gloom. The thought of having to go back to work the next day and rejoin the hustle and bustle of everyday working life creates a dark cloud over a day that should be a joy.

    With the right approach, though, Sunday’s can be days of rejuvenation—a chance to recharge our batteries—and to set ourselves up for a fantastic week. It is just a matter of the way you look at Sundays.

    Sunday’s give me a chance to take stock of how my week has gone and decide what I want to achieve the following week. Each Sunday allows me to step back from the everyday grind and to measure my progress against the plan I had for the week and to reset that plan to make the next week even better.

    Here are 13 ways you can turn Sunday’s into amazingly productive days:

    1. Wake up at Your Normal Time

    I grew up thinking Sunday’s were a great day to ‘catch-up on my sleep’. The problem here is by over-sleeping on a Sunday, you often find it difficult to get to sleep Sunday night and that begins the cycle of sleep debt you want to avoid.[1]

    Waking up at your normal time maintains regular sleep patterns and this helps to make sure your sleep schedule is consistent throughout the week. When you are in a perpetual sleep debt all week, your productivity will sink. Ensuring you have a good night sleep every night, keeps you in a highly productive state.

    2. Start the Day With “Me-Time”

    “Me-time” is time you give to yourself.[2] It’s time you can spend doing all the things you love doing without the fear of being interrupted. That could be exercise, reading, going for a long walk or meditation.

    Before Google and smartphones, people in the U.K. used to wake up on a Sunday morning, take a short walk to the local newsagent to buy the Sunday papers. The Sunday papers had all sort of supplements on books, lifestyle, gardening and fashion.

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    You would get home, settle into your favourite armchair and spend an hour or two reading through all these supplements. For me, I would put on some relaxing music and just relax with a nice cup of tea. It was a wonderful way to spend Sunday morning. No stress, no pressure, just me and the Sunday papers.

    Decide what you want to do with your Sunday morning, make sure it is focused on you and start this week. You will thank yourself for it.

    3. Do Some Exercise

    Now, this does not mean you go out and do a 10-mile run or spend one or two hours in the gym. What this means is to get outside and move.

    Our lifestyles today have taken away a lot of natural movement. This has become particularly prominent this year with many of us having to work from home. Those walks to the bus stop, train station and the office have gone. Now we get up, move from one room to another, sit down and start work.

    Sunday’s give you a chance to move. Take that opportunity. Get yourself outside for an hour or two. Enjoy nature. Go with your family or friends and just have a relaxing hour or two in nature. This is possibly one of the best ways to reduce stress, get some healthy exercise and set yourself up for a wonderful week.

    4. Plan the Day

    Not having a plan for the day will leave you at the mercy of outside events. Instead, decide on Saturday evening what you will do the next day. Make sure you wake up at your normal time, indulge in your favourite morning drink and start your day.

    Having no plan for the day, will likely result in you waking up late, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep the next evening and you will waste the opportunity to make the day count.

    Your plan does not have to be too detailed. Something similar to:

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    • Wake up and make coffee
    • Put on some great music
    • Sit down and enjoy coffee
    • Take a 2-hour walk
    • Read for an hour or two
    • Spend some time with the kids

    Just make sure you have a rough plan for the day, but keep things as flexible as possible.

    5. Watch a Sports Game

    This is a great way to get yourself away from thinking about work and your troubles. I’m a big rugby and motorsport fan and even in these difficult pandemic times, there are plenty of sports events I can watch on YouTube.

    Whatever sport you enjoy, take some time on Sunday to watch a game. Just getting into the game, enjoying the skills on show and marvelling at the professionalism removes you from your everyday world for a while. It’s a great way to give your brain some much-needed relaxation and provides a wonderful distraction from your everyday normal life.

    6. Make Sure You Do Something Different

    Doing the same things day after day will eventually turn every day into a grind. You want to be looking forward to your Sunday’s. Plan to go out for a drive in the countryside, or a walk in an unfamiliar park, or go to the cinema or an outside concert.

    Do anything that breaks up your routine. Like watching a sports game, it takes you away from the normal everyday life you lead and gives you something refreshingly different to enjoy and experience.

    7. Clean Up

    I know, most people hate doing house chores but having a clean, ordered home does wonders for your overall mental wellbeing. I love ending Sunday with a beautifully clean home, knowing everything is in its place, the floors are clean and all my laundry is put away and ready for the following week.

    It can be hard to find the time to stay on top of all the cleaning during the week, so setting aside some time each Sunday to do a cleanup leaves you feeling refreshed, energized and ready for whatever the following week will throw at you.

    8. Prepare You Clothes for the Following Week

    This may seem a bit excessive, but it saves so much time and cognitive overload. All it takes is one bad night’s sleep and you wake up and find yourself rushing around trying to get yourself ready for your first appointment.

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    In that state, trying to decide what clothes to wear in another decision you just don’t need. It’s far better to make a rough plan on a Sunday what you will wear for work and have all these clothes ready, washed and ironed.

    It also prevents discovering the shirt you want to wear for the early morning meeting is still in the laundry basket when you need it. Plan ahead. It saves so much time and stress.

    9. Do a Weekly Planning Session

    I’ve experimented doing a weekly planning session on different days but by far, the best day to plan is Sunday. I find that Sunday evenings are the best times to open up my calendar and to-do list, and to plan for the week ahead. It sets me up for the week ahead.

    It also helps me to sleep better on Sunday evening, knowing exactly what I need to accomplish the following week. I can start Monday morning without wasting time trying to figure out where things were left the previous Friday.

    What I am looking for are where all my meetings are, which days I can focus on my deep and project work and to make sure I have everything processed from the week before.

    10. Clear Out Your Email

    What? Doing email on a Sunday? Yes. Why? Because the worst thing you can do is start the new week with an inbox full of last week’s unreplied-to emails.

    For most of us, Monday morning is likely to be the one day in the week we do not have a lot of email in our inboxes, so we can begin the day on our most important project work. If you spend an hour or two cleaning up your email from last week, you miss a tremendous opportunity to start with a clean slate.

    We don’t get a lot of email in on a Sunday, so you can process your inbox and actionable folders to make sure when the new week begins, you not only have a set of outcomes you want to achieve that week, but also begin the new week with no hangovers from the week before.

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    11. Do Some Work on Your Side Project

    Now, this does not mean work. This means your own personal projects. It could be a DIY project, doing something in your garden, restoring an old car or writing your book.

    Sunday’s give you incredible opportunities to do all those things you dream of doing but never seem to find time to do them. Just getting on and doing these side projects removes you from your everyday work, and allows you a few hours to do the things you love doing.

    12. Read a Book

    During the week, it can be hard to read a good book. We get up, rush out the door to get to work (or move to our home work station and start the computer). When we finish the day, we are exhausted and just want to vegetate in front of the TV.

    Don’t waste Sunday’s. They give you a great opportunity to spend time with the books you want to read.

    13. Prepare You Meals for the Following Week

    This is a great one for those of you who are following a healthy diet and exercise plan. Preparing meals for the following week not only saves a lot of time, it also encourages you to eat healthy on those exhausting days when all you want to do is eating pizza and flopping down on the sofa.

    Having a set of pre-prepared meals reduces the temptation during the week when your willpower is at its lowest. It’s quick, healthy and easy to do. It makes sure you are sticking to your diet plan.

    Bottom Line

    I am not suggesting you try and fit all these things into Sunday. Just pick a few that resonate with you. Do those that will give you the biggest benefit and most joy.

    Sunday’s need to be restful, relaxing and give you a chance to do those things you do not normally have time to do. It’s an incredible day, so don’t waste it laying in bed watching endless episodes of your favourite TV series.

    More of What You Can Do During Weekend

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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