Mornings. Those few hours of my day that called themselves morning were the bane of my existence, but ever since I made the change to be deliberate, and put a lot of energy into improving myself, I could not get away hearing about how fantastic they were. For a long time, I left it as being “different strokes for different folks” and kept on getting so much stuff done in the late night / really early morning. I joked that I was doing the “real” mornings of 1-4am, instead of those “second rate” mornings of 4-7am.
As much as I resisted the mornings, I could not stop the nagging in my head. I spent years working for corporate companies and waking up early, so why on earth would I willingly change my glorious pantsless lifestyle for one resembling those with a pencil skirt? The resistance was big, guys. But I decided to shut the nagging up and make myself my own experiment, and try this shizz out. If only to be able to tell my dad that he was wrong about mornings and that decades of waking up at 4am and my own lifetime of him opening the curtains to tell me how great it is outside was stupid.
And then the magic happened.
Life literally became easier. Things got done that weren’t part of the late night work fests. It wasn’t only the morning that was great, the other part of my 24 hours were great too. Even when I slept less I had more energy. My depression was apparently scared of mornings and stayed away. I ate better.
I’m a very strong proponent of The Morning, and so here is my practical guide to becoming one too.
1. Find Something Worth Waking Up To
If you’re waking up early just to wake up early, it’s not going to work out.
My Something is honey in my coffee. It is the most ridiculous thing to be excited to wake up too, and I could definitely drink honeyed coffee at every other hour of my day, but for some reason that coffee is enough to make my morning feet hit the floor. Charles Duhigg might call it a trigger. If I made my Something exercise right in the beginning of waking early, I would not still be waking early. While exercise is my dad’s reason for waking early, it certainly is not mine. Don’t try and make it difficult for yourself.
Morning Person Bonus: Get a Dog
My Griffin has changed mornings for me. When I wake up, I say “okay! okay!” to him, and it’s become a cue word for him so he gets incredibly excited about this word. He dances around the bed and licks me to try get me out of it. No matter how asleep he was, the cue word gets him dancing. I get up. I tell him “today’s going to be great” and he dances some more.
If you don’t have a dog, telling yourself that “today’s going to be great” works almost as well.
2. Thou Shalt Not Snooze
The thou is there to show you how strongly I feel about this one. Religiously strongly.
I’ll pause while you read that sentence again and let it sink in. If you don’t like waking up, then why are you doing it to yourself again nine minutes later? Do not set your alarm earlier that it needs to be in order to snooze. Set your alarm for the time you need to wake up. Are you willing to exchange 9 minutes for 24 hours? Waking up at 4am after three snoozes is not waking early, and you will not gain the full extent of its benefits from that. So how do you stop snoozing? You simply stop. No weaning off. Just. stop. snoozing.
Morning Person Bonus: Change Your Alarm Tone
You have to change your outlook on waking up early, and if you wake up to an alarm tone, then it needs to be something nice too. You can choose your favourite classical song, or something enthusiastic like Eye of the Tiger.
3. Go Cold Turkey
I do not believe in waking up early over time. In my opinion, you’ve got to force yourself to wake up early the first day. It’s going to suck, and you’re going to be tired, but then guess what? You’re going to go to bed earlier because of actual tiredness, and then the next morning will be easier to wake up. The beginning is not easy, but eventually it is, and it actually becomes difficult to sleep in.
Morning Person Bonus: Your First Thought Has Power
As soon as your eyes open, sit up in bed. Smile. Think of something happy. Right from day one. Remind yourself that you’re leveling up in life directly through the discipline you’re exhibiting. Be proud of yourself because you should be.
4. Do NOT Look at Your Phone. Do Not Check Email.
Looking at your phone or scrolling through social media is like snoozing. It’s putting your brain into passive mode, and it’s ruining what you’ve done for yourself by waking up early. Save that for the part of your day that your energy falters. Do not give your phone your best minutes. Those are for you. Give your phone the minutes you don’t care about.
If you’re worried about an emergency and someone not being able to contact you, let your loved ones know about this time, and set your phone to only make a noise when it rings from one person. The beauty of early mornings is that no one else is awake, so the phone distractions will usually only come from you.
Morning Person Bonus: Delete Push Notifications
Set your phone up so that you don’t get notified when you have a new email or Instagram like. Change your settings to pull notifications which mean you have to actually go into the application and check in order to receive anything. Having an extra step between helps you to not check.
Bonus bonus: don’t have email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, BlogLovin, etc etc, on your phone at all.
5. Harness the Energy
There has to be a reason for waking up early, right? The energy that happens in a well-woken-up morning is not comparable to other times. I still find value in my night owl second wind energy late at night, but it’s very different to my morning’s.
There are a lot of amazing things that you can do with this time. If you can’t think of what, ask yourself:
- what is important to me?
- what do I have to do?
I spend my mornings with morning pages, setting my MITs and accomplishing them, or creating. I’ve already discussed the benefits of morning pages. MITs (Most Important Tasks) are the backbone to my days. I simply decide on three things that I will get done that day. Three is an easy number, and the tasks are clearly the most important right now out of the never-ending list. Creating before doing anything else is unlike any other kind of creating. This kind of creating comes from your deep insides and is not directly affected by anyone else. By creating before you consume anything else, you make more, make more original things, have creations that are closer to who you are, and you stop comparing.
Morning Person Bonus: Go Do It
Early mornings are the ultimate step to living a deliberate, intentional life. They are the foundation of powerful things. Just like most great things, it’s hard work to change your routine, but oh man, it’s worth it.