It’s probably on your 2019 bucket list to be more productive, to get into shape and to be more successful than you were last year, am I right? Well then, this shouldn’t come as a shock to you: the early bird gets the worm (no one says anything about being the early worm, which sucks).
I know you’re tempted to say (maybe even more often than you think), that you need more hours in a day. But let me tell you something: Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Oprah have just as much time in a day as any of us – they just manage it better. You don’t need more hours in a day, you need to make the most of the ones you’ve got.
Wake up earlier than you need
I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s not about waking at 4 a.m. in the morning, it’s about waking up earlier than you might need, so you can accomplish more throughout the day. When you wake up 2 hours before your regular alarm, you have 2 more hours to spend on a hobby, on learning, catching up on your book, sorting through your e-mails (although I don’t recommend doing that in the morning). “I don’t have time to run/go to the gym, I’m so tired when I get home from work!” – sounds familiar? Even I said that, a few months ago. But that changed when I switched to going to the gym in the morning.
“Snooze” option – no longer an option
Do I need to say more? Throughout the day, your body goes through what it’s called a “circadian cycle”, which also affects your sleep (that’s why many people say that it’s best to go to sleep before midnight, and wake up around 6-7 – see the image below). When your alarm goes off, your sleep cycle is interrupted, and your brain gets the signal to prepare for a new day (i.e. “wake up, we have things to do!”). When you hit the snooze and go back to sleep, you’re messing with your brain, giving him the signal to go back to being dormant, and then the alarm goes off again, and so on. This is why you wake up being grumpy and groggy. Stop doing that to yourself, it’s not helping.
The night before
Don’t you hate it when you are rushing, in the morning, and you keep forgetting to turn off the coffee machine, where you put your lunch and where are those papers you desperately need today to go to the bank? I’ve been there more than once (admittedly, it happened more often in my high school years and freshman year of college), until I put my foot down, and decided to prepare everything the night before – especially if there was something extremely important I needed to do the next day.
Besides the fact that it saved me in the mornings from running around the house like a headless chicken, it helped a lot with my anxiety, and believe it or not, I even slept better (knowing that everything was taken care of, and there was nothing pending overnight).
How much time do you need, on average, to get ready for bed? 1 hour? 1 hour and a half? More? Write down, for the next few days, how much time you need to get ready for bed in the evening, and then set an alarm (I recommend a different sound than the one you are using for your morning alarm) for the following days. This way you can go to bed at the same time, every night, because you will always have that reminder in the evening. I’m using the “Bedtime” function on my phone, where I set the time I want to wake up, how many hours I want to sleep, and it tells me when I should go to bed – and it has its own reminder, which I set to 20 minutes before the time I should go to sleep. It’s really useful, and I’m sure there are also apps that can do this, if you don’t want to manually calculate all the variables :).
The last – but certainly not the least, is Social Media. And by that I mean Social Media platforms, as well as e-mail platforms and news apps. Try to avoid checking them in the first hour since you’ve woken up – you are more likely to become aggravated, irritated or upset by them, and your body needs to channel that juicy morning energy into doing something good for yourself, instead of getting angry over the political situation in your country. Me? I usually listen to podcasts and audiobooks, if I feel like I might get bored during my morning routine, or if I really want to listen to someone talking.
I’m not saying to avoid anyone and everyone, I’m just saying… if there was something urgent, that needed your immediate attention and couldn’t wait any longer, you would’ve received a call or a text. If that’s not the case, than pour your precious energy into something worthy of your awakeness: like going to the gym, reading, writing, working on your hobby, etc.
In the end, please remember that I’m not writing this to make you feel bad about your morning routine. Just know that in case you want to make a change, improve yourself and start your mornings a little earlier than usual, these are just a few tricks to make it easier and more bearable.