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Last Updated on November 27, 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

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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 April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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