Ugh, morning people.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, they’re zealots of predawn quiet, of early daylight productivity, of eating actual breakfast and sunrises and chirping birds. Not once in my life has anyone called me a morning person.
I like lolling around in bed until 10am on the weekends (and on the weekdays too; who am I kidding?) and the majesty of sunrises has always been lost on me. I prefer the majesty that comes with not getting up until I absolutely have to, instead.
But when I began devoting more effort to writing, I realized I had absolutely no time to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish at my current levels of epic laziness. Unfortunately, things had to change; now, I’m awake and moving around (even if my eyes are still glued shut) at 5am. It’s not always pretty, and I’m still not what you’d call a chirpy go-getter, but I’m getting a LOT more done. Here are some quick and relatively painless ways to tweak your day so you can at least pretend to be a morning person.
If you’re a coffee drinker, get a good, fast, simple coffee-maker.
I cannot stress the importance of simplicity in a coffeemaker, especially when you require caffeine in the morning to have actual thoughts. My coffeemaker is the easiest thing around: there’s a place to put the brew basket, and an On button. That’s it. And it’s glorious.
Don’t get so excited about trying to wake up earlier that you treat yourself to a latte maker or a new, shiny espresso machine. Who wants to fiddle with the dials and the milk at 5am?
When you’re planning your morning routine, always start with something you love, then move on to the stuff you have to do.
Don’t expect to roll out of bed, into your shoes, and onto the elliptical. That’s the surest route to making that elliptical a big, heavy clothes hanger. Instead, set yourself up for success by starting with something delicious (and simple), then move successively upward in difficulty.
If it’s not already obvious, I love coffee. I love listening to the gurgle of the brewer, the aroma of it in the coffee bag (I don’t keep it in the fridge because I’m not that dedicated) and finally, the shot of clarity I get upon drinking it. When my alarm goes off at 4:45am, these effortless and lovely sensory experiences are what get me out of bed, down the stairs and into the kitchen. Once I’m drinking my coffee, I open my laptop, and begin to write. Once I’ve written for a time (around an hour) I shut my laptop and hit the treadmill for an hour. Once I’m done, I shower and go to work. Bonus: By the time I’m in the car, I’m awake, alert, and (usually) in a pretty good mood.
My target was at least two hours of productive time in the morning before I had to get ready for work, but going straight from a 7:15am wake-up time to a 4:45am wake-up time, New Year’s Resolution-style, is really, really hard. And ratcheting up the difficulty level pointlessly means you’re going to, at best, be grumpy about it and, at worst, swear you’re never going to do it again, and that’s bad.
Instead, work backwards. I started by setting my alarm at 6:30am—enough time to put on my running shoes and fit in a quick jog. Then, after a while, I set my alarm at 6:15am, which was enough time for me to put on a pot of coffee before my run. You get the idea.
Be (very, very) patient.
It took me months at each phase to establish my morning routine, and probably a year from where I was to start, to now, where I fake being a morning person relatively easily. Set your alarm at 6:30am and for the first month or so, you’ll hit Snooze about half the time. But you’ll get better.
Eventually you’ll wonder what else you could do if you started waking up at 6:15am, and you’ll try that. And to your disappointment, you’ll start hitting Snooze again. But it’s a process, and months will go by. You’ll adjust, and turn the clock back yet again. Just know there will be mornings when you’ll hit the Snooze button. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure; it just means you might have to put the alarm across the room instead of next to your bed.
Make the morning time the only time when you’ll do something.
For a variety of reasons, I only run in the early mornings. Besides coffee, this thought is what helps drag me out of bed. If I don’t get up now, I won’t get to burn calories now, which means I can’t have that cheesecake later. Leave yourself no second chances during the day—that’s how you take your morning routine from something that’s nice to do, to something you simply have to do.
Else, no cheesecake. And that makes me sad.
Do you need to tips to make time to write? Check out Part 1: Six Ways to Actually Get Up with an Alarm, Part 2: Use Evernote to Write Anywhere, Part 3: Fit It in Around a Full-Time Life, and Part 4: Leave Yourself Hanging.