I am lucky enough to live a 10-minute bike ride away from my workplace. My work at the office starts at 9am. So when people hear that I wake up at 6am, they roll their eyes. Why would you wake up so early while you could wake up at 8?
Nobody in their right mind would work harder for someone else than they do for themselves. Yet everybody does. People wake up, rush to work, stay at the office from 9 to 5. They get home, watch TV, eat, go to bed, and do it all over again. They don’t take time for themselves.
The most valuable hours of your day are in the morning.
Those who say they are not an early bird should simply try to go to bed before midnight. Mornings are the best time to take time for yourself and get things done.
Dreams get done when you are awake
This article is not about convincing you that mornings are the best time to be productive. If you are reading this you already know that they are, and you might be trying to become a morning person. You want to be part of the people who get things done in the morning.
1- Put mind over mattress
You will never wake up early in the morning thinking to yourself “I could sleep an extra hour”. You need something to look forward to. It can be anything. A book you want to read, your morning run, your favorite cereal, your cup of coffee, your 20-minute long shower… You need something to motivate yourself to get out of bed earlier than you would if you were just going to work.
If you are trying to wake up early to take time for yourself, you might have one or more side projects. Things you do next to your work. Things you are passionate about whether they make money or not (that’s where most people get the hustle wrong). If you already have that, finding your motivation to wake up early won’t be as hard.
The best way to start waking up early is by setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than the previous day. Do this every 2 days. If you usually wake up at 7am, you should be able to upgrade to 6am within 8 days. I don’t recommend waking up before 5am. The bare minimum for most people is 6 hours of sleep per night. So unless you go to bed really early (between 9 and 10pm) there’s no point in waking up before 5am.
Motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.
If you want to change the way you live, you need to have principles and stick to them. Creating habits is utterly important. Sticking to them is the key to long term progress and success.
2- Turn your worst enemy into your best friend
Waking up to the sound of a scream-buzzing alarm clock will not help you get excited about the day. If you are using your phone as an alarm clock, drop it. Turn your phone off at night. Use an old smartphone to wake you up instead. Install Alarm Clock Xtreme on it. Download a relaxing soundtrack from Youtube and dump it on the phone. Set the alarm clock to “Crescendo”. Your next morning will be like a dream.
It is better to sleep in total darkness. The downside is that turning the lights on in the morning is painful and unpleasant for the eyes. Get a Philips Wake- up Light. It will gradually light up the room, giving your eyes time to adapt to the brightness. You will feel as if you’re in sync with the sunrise.
4- No screens
Screens are aggressive to the eyes, especially in the morning. Moreover, banning your phone and computer from your first morning hour will enable you to focus on things more important than your Facebook feed. The only acceptable screen should be your e-reader.
I don’t know about you but when I was a kid I was always told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Most people will tell you they are not hungry in the morning. Indeed, going to bed at 1am right after eating pizza will not help. A good breakfast is key to a great start.
Meditation is a really hard thing to do. It takes a lot of training to completely let go and let your thoughts wander. But even if you are not an expert at it yet, simply closing your eyes while listening to some relaxing music helps starting the day focused and with a free mind.
7- No chores
Ironing your clothes, cleaning your kitchen, doing the dishes… These are things that should be done the evening before. Reduce unpleasant tasks as much as possible in the morning. Waking up to a clean place feels great and is key to a good morning ritual.
After the first hour
By now you should be up, showered and dressed with a full stomach. The day started an hour ago and you still have at least an hour for yourself before taking off to work. That’s amazing. Now is the time to start doing whatever you woke up for. This book you are writing, this one you are reading, this drawing you want to finish, your morning run, your morning photography walk, your online Chinese class…
By the time you get to work, it will feel like half of the day has already passed by. You will have spent more time taking care of yourself, your projects, your mind. And that’s what truly matters.