During college I was a night owl. I was most productive at night. I loved lounging around with roommates, catching up on all of our shows (hello Grey’s Anatomy, Glee), surfing social media and laughing about our days. I feel like most nights we were lucky to be asleep by midnight. When I graduated and started working in Seattle, it was a rude awakening. My internship had a strict 8am-5pm schedule, and I would find myself yawning during important meetings or one-on-ones. That’s when my love affair with coffee truly began. 🙂
As the years progressed and I landed a full-time job, my lifestyle changed (sort of). But as I lived with a friend, we would do a night gym class or walk, still stay up late and catch up, cook obnoxious meals (food prepping a soup at 8:00 at night), and hang out well into the night. Without a car, bus life was the way to go. If I was really lazy I would opt for Uber or a car-sharing service (Car2Go, ReachNow) to cut on my commute time.
Long story short – mornings were the enemy. They were usually rushed, and very, very stressful.
When I first met James I thought he was crazy. He maintained such a hectic work schedule and would set his alarm before 5am. Most days, he was out the door by 6. This was normal for him. What?
Today, my life looks very different. As a freelancer who works from home, I have flexibility with my schedule. Since most of my projects are based on the West Coast, my work days don’t truly begin until 10am ET. If I wanted to, I could sleep in every morning, and no one would stop me. OK – maybe my dog. But now that my work schedule starts later in the morning, it also creeps into my evening. I have to take advantage of my mornings, the only free time I have.
James, still in the Navy, still with a hectic work schedule, is still up and out of the door before 6am. He is extremely productive. He is extremely disciplined. He really motivates me.
After weeks and weeks and weeks, I have finally established a habit of becoming a morning person. And I love it. I know my situation is unique, and waking up at 5am isn’t possible for all of us. But for fun, I thought I’d share my best advice for how I got here:
Go to bed early.
This is obvious, but it was the biggest game changer for me. If I’m committed to waking up at 5am every day, I ‘m getting into bed around 9pm. No exceptions. This means no mindless television watching or scrolling Instagram on my phone. I walk my dog shortly before, then try to be in bed before 9:30pm. I try not to be on my phone. If my mind is preoccupied I’ll read one or two chapters of a book. I have to sacrifice calls with friends and family, who are just getting off work. I can feel the difference in my body if I go to bed at 9pm or 10pm. It’s a game changer.
Get up with your alarm.
I keep my phone on top of my dresser, on the other side of our bedroom. I can’t just lean over and hit snooze. I take a lot of advice from Rachel Hollis, who swears by her “Five to Thrive” method. One of the most powerful statements she lives by is “don’t break a promise to yourself.” We always make promises or commitments to friends and family, and rarely do we break them. So why do we always break promises to ourselves? You told yourself you were going to wake up early. You set your alarm. You want this. Get up. I keep that statement in the back of my mind always, and it serves as a great reminder. I will not break this promise to myself.
Do something for yourself.
Give yourself a reason to get up. Echoing Rachel Hollis’ method, she recommends waking up an hour earlier than you normally would and using the time for yourself. Everyday. Stretch, meditate, or squeeze in a workout. Go for a walk and listen to your favorite podcast. Write in your journal. Drink a hot cup of coffee and read a book. Give yourself this time for yourself. Do the thing you’ve been wanting to do, but never have time for. For me, I drink a cup of coffee and stretch. This peaceful way of starting my day has been life-changing. Honestly. I’m not hitting snooze for the fifth time or jumping out of bed and realizing I only have 20 minutes to get ready. There is no chaos. There is no stress.
Establish a routine.
Whatever you do, keep it consistent. To make this a true habit, you need a routine. As the days and weeks go on, it will begin to feel natural like brushing your teeth or making your bed. This is just part of your day.
My routine looks like this: I wake up around 5:15 a.m. I let my dog out, brew a hot cup of coffee, stretch or write a blog post. By 6:25 I’m out the door for Crossfit. I get home around 8:30am, make a smoothie, take my dog for a walk and listen to a podcast. Every. Single. Day.
To be fair, if I still worked normal office hours, my routine might look like this: I wake up around 5:15 a.m. I let my dog out, brew a hot cup of coffee, stretch or write a blog post. At 6:25 I’ll finally look at my phone, glance over my inbox, schedule for the day (calls, meetings, appointments) and then hop in the shower. I’m out the door by 7:30. Evenings would still be time for workouts, but my peaceful mornings would transform my life.
Keep doing it.
Push yourself and do it every day. In the beginning, it was so hard. It wasn’t until I made a commitment that I finally started to change. Set yourself out with a goal. Maybe you start slow – you want to wake up earlier every day for two weeks. Give yourself a challenge and track your progress each day. See how you begin to feel day in and day out. Are you feeling more productive? Is your energy level higher?
My commitment was a huge incentive for me.
Here in Connecticut, my Crossfit gym requires you to book a class before you attend. Classes are capped at 12 people, so if you get your slot you have to stick to it. You can cancel, but your name is still visible in the app with a
strikethrough. So everyone (including your coach) knows that you bailed. Oops! This is a great incentive for me. I sign up for classes the night before and then I am committed to going. I’ve also set out a goal to join their “Committed Club,” which is for members who attend at least 20 classes each month, for three consecutive months. I map this out on my calendar at home, and keep myself accountable on social media and with my husband (ha). I also know myself, and I know if I don’t go at 7am, I won’t go at all. In general, make a commitment or something you have to stick to. This will help encourage you to keep your routine and wake up.
So, are you a morning person or a night owl?