Make Time to Write, Part 1: Six Ways to Actually Get Up with an Alarm

Can you imagine what it would be like if you could wake up—completely, fully up —whenever you’ve set your alarm for in the morning? You’d be incredibly productive, writing up a storm, because in the wee hours of the morning, before the rest of your household is awake, what else is there to do?

I have trouble getting up with my alarm because… I simply don’t want to do it. Not enough, anyway. In the wee hours of the morning, with the sky still dark and the pre-dawn birds barely peeping, I want nothing more than to bury my face in the cool side of my pillow, wiggle my toes in the flannel sheets and sigh myself back to sleep.


Credit: Rishi B,
Credit: Rishi B,

The best way to form an early rising habit (or any other habit), the experts say, is to exchange immediate gratification for immediate gratification. To cement a habit of waking early, you have to do something that’s as satisfying as rolling over and staying asleep. Here are ten ways to make getting up at the alarm slightly less unpleasant.

Smell the coffee. There’s something wonderful and invigorating about smelling and hearing a pot of coffee brewing. But having it in the kitchen is too far away. Put the coffeemaker (and a mug, obviously) in a corner of your bedroom. It’s easier to get up for a cup if it’s only across the room.

Ladies: Tie your hair back before bed. When I don’t have to pull my hair back in the morning, that’s one less thing I have to do before I get exercising, or writing.

If you’re one of those people who checks their smartphone first thing in the morning, leave your glasses or contacts in another room, so you have to get up to see your screen.

Fall asleep in your workout gear. For me, job number one when I wake up is to go running, and if I wear my running clothes (sports bra, shorts, shirt) to bed, I’m more likely to roll out of bed, put on my shoes, and go. (Plus, sleeping in a sports bra isn’t exactly comfortable, and if I manage to put up with it all night, you can be sure I’m going running in the morning.)

Fall asleep at the right time. Most people have 90-minute sleep cycles, and require at least 5 or 6 of these a night. Interrupting a sleep cycle is associated with grogginess, irritability and decreased alertness throughout the day. To figure out when to go to sleep based on when you want to wake up, or when to set your alarm based on your bedtime, check out sleep cycle calculator, or download a sleep cycle/alarm app, like Sleep Cycle (iOS) or Sleep as Android, or my personal favorite, Azumio’s Sleep Time app.

Promise yourself. Before you go to bed, say to yourself, “I’m going to get up and get going when my alarm goes off.” Repeat this to yourself as you fall asleep. When your alarm goes off, don’t leave time for rationalizing. Get up and get going, just like you said.

For more encouragement, check out Leo Babauta’s 10 Benefits of Rising Early and How to Do It, from zenhabits.