Become a Morning Person

So, this is a bit of a different post for me, but I thought it’d be a good one to write for everyone making new year resolutions. When asking my friends what they’re resolving to do this year, more than a few of them have mentioned wanting to get an earlier start to the day. As a self-proclaimed morning queen (we’re talking 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. wakeup times), I thought I’d share some of my early-morning tips.

To start, I want to say that I haven’t always been a morning person. It’s a habit I gradually developed. I work full time as a content manager and part time as a freelance writer. Making time for these two gigs (plus a workout, maybe dinner with friends) means I need to start my days early. It really helps me breakup and “categorize” my days. For instance, my mornings are spent doing personal housekeeping and some freelance writing. My time right after work is spent at the gym before diving into freelance jobs again. If I saved everything for after work … well, that would be overwhelming.

So, without further delay, here are a few tips I promise will help you become an early-morning convert:

  • Baby Steps — My first and biggest tip is to take baby steps. Sure, that new year adrenaline may help you become an instant early riser for a week or two, but I promise you’ll crash during week three if you don’t take it slow. Instead of making a goal of rising two or three hours earlier each day, start with 15 or 30 minutes. Gradually increase that time day by day or week by week, whatever seems fitting for your lifestyle and current sleep patterns.

  • Look Forward to Something — This may come as a shock, given how early I rise, but I’m actually not a coffee drinker. I naturally have high cortisol levels (stress hormone), so I steer clear of caffeine. For some, coffee is the reason they get out of bed in the morning. They have an intricate coffee routine that they look forward to. I don’t have that. Instead, I look forward to a workout, a writing project or a brisk, sunrise walk through my city. My biggest tip is to make it something you really enjoy doing. If your other goal is to start working out, period, then that might not be the thing getting you out of bed in the a.m. Choose something you already like that’s an easy habit. For me, that can be a number of things. I always listen to my current mood. Sometimes I want to smash out an early-morning lift at my gym. Sometimes I want to attend a high-intensity class with an instructor yelling in my ear. Other times, I just want to sprint the stairs near my apartment. If I pick something I enjoy, it makes getting up so much easier.

  • Don’t Overthink It — Don’t think about how early it is, how tired you are or what you have to do for the day. Focus first on just getting out of bed and getting where you need to go. Be mindless. Otherwise, you may talk yourself out of getting up altogether. If I’m running stair sprints, I just focus on getting out of bed, putting my clothes on and physically walking myself to the stairs. I don’t think about how many laps I need to do, how much time it will take or what I have to do once I get to the office later. I just focus on the task of walking to the stairs. Once I’m there, I know I won’t talk myself out of running them.

  • Put Your Phone Away — My biggest sin is grabbing my phone first thing in the morning. It wastes so much of my time. I check emails. I check my social media. I check my text messages. Before I know it, 30 minutes has blown by. I’ve wasted both my time and my sleep. Check your phone after you’re awake and ready for the day—not before.

  • Don’t Press Snooze — This is an obvious one, but it really does make a major difference. You’re not actually giving your body any additional rest when you press snooze for five minutes. You’re just delaying what’s inevitably going to happen—you’re going to get up. Either sleep in another hour or get up, but whatever you do, don’t press snooze 20 times.

  • Setup for Success — Lay out your gym clothes. Pick out your work outfit. Prepare your breakfast the night before. Make your morning as seamless as possible, so getting up and getting out the door is simple.

Last tip? Know you why. Why are you getting out of bed so early? What’s the purpose? As I mentioned, I like getting up early because it breaks up my day. If I got up 20 minutes before I had to be at work, I’d be rushing through my entire day with no time to stop and breath. Waking up early actually gives me freedom to enjoy my day and move a little slower. Maybe your “why” is getting in a workout, so you don’t make excuses later in the day. Maybe it’s that you’ve resolved to read more or listen to more podcasts. An early morning routine can help you make time for and stick to certain goals. Knowing your “why” can help inspire some positive self talk in the morning to combat the urge to fall back asleep. After all, if you don’t have a purpose, you may as well just press snooze.