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I Wish I Knew These 15 Tricks To Waking Up Earlier

I Wish I Knew These 15 Tricks To Waking Up Earlier

Many people have difficulty waking up early when trying to transition to a new schedule or simply seeking to get more done in the day. Others struggle with falling asleep early every night, making mornings a challenge.

Rising early does have real benefits that make it a worthwhile goal, like improving your chances of getting a workout in, putting you in a better mood, encouraging healthier eating and improved proactivity.

As a lifelong night owl, I know the struggle of trying to wake up and slog through the day on an early bird’s schedule. In my attempts to improve sleep habits and get better rest, I researched and found several tricks that truly made going to sleep and waking up in the morning easier.

Read on to learn 15 useful strategies for waking up earlier that I wish I had known years ago!

1. Plan your schedule to allow adequate time for sleep.

Plan your schedule to allow adequate time for sleep

    The average adult needs a minimum of seven hours (and up to nine hours) of sleep every night. The first trick to waking up earlier, is to make sure your bedtime allows you to get enough rest in every night without stressing over the clock or feeling fatigued the next day.

    If you want to wake up at 6:00am, for example, then your bedtime needs to be no later than 10:30pm. Remember it takes an average of 10-20 minutes to fall asleep, and you also need to factor in time for evening pre-bed routines as well.

    2. Gradually adjust your bedtime.

    Gradually Adjust Your Bedtime

      Move your bedtime and wake time in gradual, 15-minute increments to reduce shock to your system and daytime fatigue. Trying to change your schedule by an hour or more right away is a surefire way to feel tired and give up.

      If you want to wake up an hour earlier, give yourself at least 4 days to make the transition, getting to bed 15 minutes earlier and setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each day. You can spend a few days at each increment if that works better for you, too.

      3. Optimize your bedroom for more efficient sleep.

      Optimize your bedroom for more efficient sleep

        For many nightowls, the biggest struggle is falling asleep early enough at night. Your bedroom plays a big role in this, so make sure you are setting the stage for the best sleep possible.

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        Temperatures should be cool, between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, your mattress and bedding should be cozy and comfortable, and your space should be clean and free of clutter.

        Light should be kept to an absolute minimum as it can impair your melatonin production, as should distracting sounds. Light blocking shades or an eye mask as well as a sound conditioner or ear plugs can be helpful if you have limited control over the environment.

        4. Use visualization to fall asleep faster.

        Use visualization to fall asleep faster

          Another helpful trick for falling asleep faster is to use visualization to clear your mind and relax. One study from Oxford researchers found visualization more effective than counting or simply laying down.

          To do this, imagine a relaxing, calming scene and try to experience it in as much detail as possible with all of your senses. You might be walking down a beach at sunset or strolling through a calm forest.

          If your thoughts start to wonder, come back to your scene. There are also guided visualization apps and YouTube videos that can help you stay focused and practice this technique.

          5. Use a sleep cycle monitor or app to wake up fresher.

          Use a sleep cycle monitor or app to wake up fresher

            (Image from SleepCycle.com)

            Smartphone sleep cycle apps or sleep monitoring devices can be helpful for avoiding groggy mornings and for tracking your habits.

            When you wake up in an REM sleep cycle, it could take several minutes to recover from the groggy and foggy sleep state. These apps and devices aim to work by monitoring your sleep cycles and waking you at point that is most likely to have you feeling awake and well-rested (within a specified timeframe).

            The other, and perhaps more useful, aspect of tracking your sleep is that you can see what disturbs your slumber versus which habits help you sleep better and deeper.

            6. Booby trap your alarm clock.

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            Booby trap your alarm clock

              (Image from NootropicDesign.com)

              For those of us who have developed stealth alarm snooze skills, you may need to get a little creative with your alarm clock until your body is more used to waking up early.

              You can start by placing your alarm far enough away from your bed that you have to get up and move, taping over or covering up the snooze button, or otherwise creating an obstacle that prevents you from slipping back off to bed.

              Another solution could be to try creative alarm apps that require you to perform complex tasks before shutting off.

              7. Remember why you are waking up early, positively.

              Remember why you are waking up early, positively

                (Image from psu.edu blog)

                If motivation to get out of bed is your weakness, then create reminders for yourself about why you want to achieve this goal or positive affirmations to encourage you.

                On smartphones, you could name your alert to match your motivation, such as: “Fit into skinny jeans!”, “Increase sales 20%!”, “Get an A+!”, or “Today is a special day!” or leave positive sticky notes on your alarm, pillow, or bathroom mirror.

                8. Utilize acupressure to wake up.

                Utilize acupressure to wake up

                  One study from University of Michigan researchers found that basic acupressure techniques helped boost alertness. These simple techniques take only a couple of minutes, and can even be done in bed or whenever you need a boost during the day.

                  Stimulation points for alertness include the top of your head, top of the back of your neck, back of your hand between your thumb and index finger, right below your knees, and the center of the bottom of your foot.

                  9. Turbo-charge your morning routine.

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                  Turbo-charge your morning routine

                    Get going quicker after you wake up by incorporating water, light, activity and healthy food into your morning routine.

                    Start your morning with a big glass of cold water (some people also swear by warm water with lemon) to recover from nighttime dehydration.

                    Try to expose yourself to natural sunlight as soon as possible to support your natural wakefulness rhythms. A little energy-boosting aromatherapy can also help. If you are a coffee drinker, put a pot on and enjoy the aroma. Other good wakeup scents include orange, lemon, rosemary, and mint.

                    Next, try to do a little exercise, even if it’s only a couple minutes of light yoga or jumping jacks – just to get your blood pumping and energy flowing. Don’t forget to eat a healthy breakfast early as well to support your metabolism and energy levels through lunch.

                    10. Incorporate a nap into your afternoon.

                    Incorporate a nap into your afternoon

                      If waking up earlier has you feeling sluggish in the afternoon, a short afternoon nap can refresh your energy levels and give you a second wind.

                      Shorter naps are best for boosting alertness without causing grogginess or impacting your nighttime sleep. Studies say naps between 10 and 20 minutes are best, just make sure to keep them around 8 hours before your planned bedtime.

                      11. Watch what you eat and drink after noon.

                      Watch what you eat and drink after noon

                        Certain foods, supplements and drinks can steal sleep by stimulating energy or causing indigestion.

                        Caffeine and other stimulants can affect you for several hours, so when trying to fall asleep early or adjust your schedule, it can be helpful to avoid them or at least limit them to morning hours.

                        Coffee, caffeinated tea, dark chocolate, sugar, guarana and diet/slimming supplements are all things to watch out for. Spicy, greasy or heavy foods to close to bed are also bad for Zzz’s.

                        12. Banish electronics before bed.

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                        Banish electronics before bed

                          Another less obvious stimulant is light, particularly blue light that televisions, computers and other electronics emit. Light exposure at night can impair natural melatonin production, delaying drowsiness and keeping you up later at night.

                          Try to detach from your devices at least 60 minutes before bed – that means no smart phones, laptops, tablets, televisions and keeping room lights dim as well. Instead, try reading, listening to music or an audiobook, writing in a journal, a warm bath or relaxing stretching to wind down your evening.

                          13. Make your mornings stress-free and simple.

                          Make your mornings stress-free and simple

                            Does the thought of everything you need to do make you want to hide under the covers? Try getting motivated to wake up by paring down your morning routine and giving yourself something to look forward to.

                            You could lay out your outfit and get all of your things together at night, have quick and healthy breakfasts and lunches ready to go, set the coffee pot on auto-timer, and look for other ways to do your less enticing activities at night so mornings are smooth sailing.

                            14. Address any potential snooze-stealing issues.

                            Address any potential snooze-stealing issues

                              If you’ve tried all of the trusted tricks for improving sleep habits but still find yourself feeling tired or have persistent sleep troubles, it might be worthwhile to chat with your doctor.

                              Certain medications, allergies, or other treatable conditions could be at the root of your sleep problems. Sleep apnea is a major one to be aware of, especially if you are a heavy snorer or wake feeling tired despite spending enough time sleeping.

                              15. Keep your sleep-wake schedule as consistent as possible.

                              Keep your sleep-wake schedule as consistent as possible

                                And, saving the best for last, one of the most effective ways to get comfortable with waking up earlier is to stick to a consistent schedule, even on the weekends.

                                In addition to potential healthy weight benefits, a consistent sleep wake schedule means your body knows what to expect and reduces the likelihood of sleep problems. Set a sleep and wake time you can stick to every day of the week, aiming for no more than an hour of variation for the best results.

                                Share: What sleep tricks or changes help you fall asleep faster or wake up earlier?

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                                Published on January 16, 2019

                                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                                You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                                You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                                That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                                Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                                1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                                Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                                We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                                To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                                At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                                The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                                2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                                Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                                The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                                In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                                It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                                It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                                So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                                • Are you a great strategist?
                                • Are you an effective planner?
                                • Is Project Management your strength?
                                • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                                • Are you the ideas person?
                                • Is Implementation your strength?

                                Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                                3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                                One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                                Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                                Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                                Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                                4. Take Time for Planning

                                “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                                One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                                You can take the time to think about:

                                • What’s the purpose of the project?
                                • How Important is it?
                                • When does it need to be delivered by?
                                • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                                • What are the KPIs?
                                • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                                • Who is working on this project?
                                • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                                • What tolerances can I add in?
                                • What are the review stages?
                                • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                                Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                                5. Focus on Priorities

                                Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                                Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                                One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                                1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                                2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                                3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                                4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                                James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                                  The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                                  If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                                  If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                                  6. Take Time Out

                                  To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                                  If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                                  Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                                  In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                                  Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                                  7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                                  Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                                  I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                                  Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                                  If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                                  8. Stop Multitasking

                                  Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                                  So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                                  When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                                  If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                                  9. Work in Blocks of Time

                                  To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                                  I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                                  Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                                  Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                                  Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                                  Then take another 10-minute break.

                                  Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                                  By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                                  10. Get Rid of Distractions

                                  Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                                  “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                                  Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                                  If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                                  11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                                  You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                                  Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                                  Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                                  12. Take a Time Audit

                                  Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                                  Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                                  You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                                  Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                                  Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                                  At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                                  If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                                  13. Protect Your Confidence

                                  It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                                  When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                                  Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                                  When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                                  Final Words

                                  A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                                  The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                                  If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                                  Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

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