Looking for a better start to your day?
Do you press snooze several times on your alarm clock before getting up? Do you find mornings stressful and frantic, or feel as if your days always run away from you? Or are you ok with your mornings, but regret you don’t have enough time for yourself, or for doing all the non urgent things you enjoy?
If your answer to any of the above is Yes, then the solution is simple: get up an hour earlier every day.
Getting up an hour earlier is the best way to start the day.
The problem is not knowing how
Most people I know would love to make their mornings calmer and more productive. They know that getting up early is a common trait in successful people, that it would boost their productivity and sanity, and help them feel more in control of their day.
The problem is, they don’t know how to get up early.
If this is you, then that’s all about to change. In this blog I’ll be sharing 11 tips that will make getting up early not only easier, but something you enjoy doing and actually look forward to.
From frantic and frazzled to calm and in control
I know exactly what it feels like to struggle to get out of bed each morning. Before I learned how to get up early, my mornings were always frantic and I was often frazzled. Even before I became a working parent, getting myself up and out for work in anything but a mad rush was always a challenge.
Years later, with not just myself to think of, but 4 kids who all needed to be fed, washed, dressed and out of the door, the challenge reached epic proportions. I would drag myself reluctantly out of bed at the last minute and then tornado out of the house leaving destruction in my wake, only to collapse into bed at the end of the day, overwhelmed and filled with dread at the thought of having to do it all again the next morning.
This all changed when I learned how to get up at least an hour earlier every morning.
By applying the strategies I describe below, this is what I’ve learned to do:
- get up with ease at or before 5.45 and (most of the time) feel excited about it.
- wake up naturally before my alarm clock (not always, but often) because my body clock knows it’s time and I can’t wait to start my day.
- approach my days with calm, avoid overwhelm and feel that I am in control of my life, not the other way round.
No more Overwhelm
Overwhelm is one of the Five Pitfalls of Working Parenthood. Getting up early is one of the best strategies I know for keeping Overwhelm at bay.
Overwhelm is the feeling that you have too much on your plate, that you have no control over your day, and that you never get time for yourself. It can affect your ability to produce your best at work and be your best self at home. Because it is one of the most common issues working parents struggle with, Overwhelm is one of the Five Pitfalls of Working Parenthood that future working parents need to be preparing for.
You know how when you’re rushing through the day doing what feels like a million tasks at once, in a constant state of high alert because every task appears urgent and every problem critical? You know how it would be so amazing to have a pause button for your life – something you could press once a day to put everything on hold, just long enough to allow you to:
- stop: take a breath
- appreciate: what am I grateful for?
- consider: what’s really important here?
- ask: how am I doing physically? Is my body telling me something?
- reflect: what’s working here? what isn’t? what do I need to do differently?
Getting up early is that Pause Button. It’s your opportunity, every single day, to put your life on hold just long enough to assess where you are and correct your course often enough to ensure you stay on track.
Getting up early every day is your Pause Button.
“I’m not a ‘mornings person’!”
If you’re thinking this won’t work for you because you’re not a mornings person, then join the crowd. I assure you this is the excuse or reason I hear the most often when I am trying to convert people to early mornings.
While there is evidence to suggest that some people may be genetically predisposed to getting up early, the numbers of people who have previously considered themselves “not a mornings person” who are now fully committed early risers, bears testimony to the fact that getting up early is, like so many life-enhancing strategies, yet another habit you can learn.
Getting up an hour early every day is a habit you can learn
What you get when you get up early
Imagine the following:
- going to bed each night, excited about the morning that awaits you when you wake up;
- never repeatedly pressing the snooze on your alarm clock, ever again.
- welcoming the sound of your alarm clock or, better still, waking up just before it goes off
- feeling that you have enough ‘me time’
- being so clear on what is important that you have the confidence to filter out the irrelevant and unnecessary in your day
- knowing that every day brings you closer to fulfilling your life goals
- having time to count your blessings and appreciate how far you have come.
All of this is possible for you starting from tomorrow. All you have to do, is get up early.
Here’s how you do it:
How to get up early
Tip #1 – Start slowly
Don’t be too ambitious. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than your normal alarm time and do that for a few days at least. As you become comfortable with your new time, increase it another 15 minutes. Ideally you’ll continue like this until you reach an hour earlier, but if this doesn’t work for you and you struggle to get past 30 minutes, be satisfied and proud of yourself anyway.
Tip #2 – Create a morning routine
Having a morning routine is essential. It will motivate you to get up and ensure your morning is well spent. This is what my ritual looks like:
- Ritual: Drink a glass of water, make a cup of herbal tea in my favourite mug and light a scented candle
- 10 minutes Meditation and/or writing my Journal
- 20 minutes Yoga
- 10 minutes reading – fiction or something inspiring
- 10 minutes packing my work bag for the day
There are no rules about how your ritual should look so it’s up to you to decide and you can be flexible. I don’t always manage the exact number of minutes I’ve written above. Some mornings I spend longer doing Yoga and less time on Mediation. Other days I may do 10 minutes yoga and spend more time reading.
When I first started getting up early I had an excellent framework for my morning ritual. It’s called S.A.V.E.R.S and it’s from Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, the book that inspired me to change my mornings and that transformed my life. In it he recommends you structure your morning routine as follows:
- S for Silence – meditate, sit quietly
- A for Affirmation – create and recite an affirmation that relates to a life goal
- V is for Visualisation – visualise your life goal
- E for Exercise – anything that will wake your body up. A run or just some gentle stretching
- R for Reading – read something uplifting and inspiring.
- S for Scribing – write in your journal, anything goes – thoughts, reflections, goals, gratitude
Tip #3 – Choose a sacred space
Find a corner or room in your house where you will spend your sacred morning time. For me it’s a corner of the living room where the bookcases are and which is next to the radiator as I’m always cold when I get up. There’s a nice lamp that casts a warm light across the room, a place for me to put my tea, candle and glass of water, and I can see the sunrise from the window.
Tip #4 – Set your intention the night before
An early morning starts with a decent bed time ritual. Here are some suggestions:
- Tidy and prepare your sacred space – make sure it is tidy and has everything you need to hand (reading book, journal etc.)
- Leave out your favourite glass/tea cup or coffee mug
- Limit noise disturbance – our living room has a creaky door so I always leave it open so as not to wake the house
- Make it easy to find what you need without waking others eg. glasses, socks, sports kit
- Go to bed early as often as you can, so you get the sleep you need
- Get the right alarm – e.g. something that vibrates if you are concerned about waking others
Tip #5 – Move your alarm
Move your alarm to the other side of the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
This advice from Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net only makes sense if it is practical for you. It doesn’t work for me because I worry about waking Paul and having a very cranky husband to deal with!
Loren Pinilis of Life of a Steward has a way round this which I am tempted to try. In his guest post for Goins Writer he says he has a quiet alarm next to his bed, then a loud one on the other side of the room. He knows if he doesn’t get out of bed in time the loud one will go off and wake his wife who will be seriously mad! “The fear of a startled and cranky wife drives me to take those first few steps out of bed” he says.
Tip #6 – Never, ever press snooze
Never hit snooze.
There is no good reason for pressing snooze on your alarm clock. Not one. You will not feel better in 5 minutes. You will not suddenly be able to jump out of bed filled with energy. You will still feel tired and still need to find a way to get out of bed. The snooze button is there to keep you in bed, not to help you get up. However seductive it’s call, do not give in!
Tip #7 – Avoid the nasties: email, news, social media
I have 3 strict rules for my mornings:
- No email – the idea is NOT to extend your working day. This is you time. Keep it sacred.
- No news – the idea is to start the day feeling inspired and motivated and focus entirely on what’s happening internally. The rest of the world can fit into your normal day.
- No social media – as I said, this time is about what’s going on with you, not everyone else.
Tip #8 – Be consistent, even at the weekend
If you get up early every day it will become a habit, the thing you just do. If you pick and choose the days you do it, it’s so much harder. Suddenly you’ll find yourself having to make a decision every day about whether you’re going to get up early or not. Trust me this makes things harder. On the days when you feel too tired to get out of bed (and there will be a few!) there’ll be a voice in your head giving you a host of reasons why you should take the day off. When it’s a daily habit, it’s non negotiable.
If you need the weekends to catch up on sleep, try to shift this to different times of the day. I never used to be able to sleep in the day, but now I’ve trained myself to take an hour’s nap at the weekend to top up on sleep. It’s surprising how easy it is if you plan it and get your partner’s buy in.
Tip #9 – Get better quality sleep. It’s not only about quantity
When it comes to sleep, my experience is that quality is more important than quantity. Here are my suggestions for better quality sleep:
- Pay attention to your sleep patterns. A Fitbit or sleeping app is useful for measuring your sleep. After a good night, reflect on what you did the day or night before and repeat.
- Avoid the TV in the bedroom
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Don’t eat late in the evening
- Avoid screens just before going off to sleep
If sleep is something you struggle with, this Life hack blog about the common sleep mistakes you should avoid has a number of useful tips.
Tip #10 – Do something you love/ that excites and thrills you
When creating your morning routine, make sure it includes something that excites or thrills you. If you’re visualising a life goal, it helps if it is something you really want to achieve, that gets your heart racing. If you’re reading, it helps if you can’t wait to find out what happens next. When exercising, be sure it is something rewarding. If writing a journal, buy the best most beautiful looking journal you can afford that gives you pleasure just to look at.
“There’s no better feeling than creating a protected pocket of time when you can do what you love” says Krissy Brady, in this blog post on waking early.
Tip #11 – Keep calm and keep trying
If you have a morning when you just can’t get up, it’s easy to throw your hands up in despair and give up. Don’t! This isn’t failure, it’s another step forward on the road to success. Success can only happen when you learn how to deal with setbacks, so keep setting that alarm and keep getting up.
Download your Seize the Morning checklist
There’s a lot to take in in this blog. Remember, getting up early is just another habit that takes effort and practise at first but then will become second nature. To help you get started and keep going, I’ve prepared this Seize the Morning Checklist for you which contains these and a host of other tips in a format which is easy for you to download and refer to as you develop your habit of getting up early.
So what are you going to do?
You don’t have to be a mornings person to enjoy the life transforming benefits of being an early riser. You just need to be willing to invest the effort to make it happen. I hope this blog has given you the guidance and inspiration you need. The rest is up to you.
How do you feel about early mornings? Has this blog inspired you to give it a go? Send your comments to me at email@example.com or share them on the Babyproof Facebook Page.
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