When it comes to waking up early, some folks are naturally early risers and others are, well, not. I fall somewhere in between these extremes, but I’ve recently developed the habit of getting up earlier than usual and I am finding that I get more done, I feel better, and, surprisingly, I have way more energy. I would recommend this new habit to anyone who is in a rut or needs to find more time in the day, but it can be especially beneficial to entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, you are your business—taking this early-morning time for yourself is an indirect but powerful way to strengthen your business.
Here are 10 tips that can help you transition to an earlier wake-up time. And rest assured, these will work for the “night owl” as well as the self-identified “morning person.”
1. MAKE IT ABOUT WHY-POWER, NOT WILLPOWER
This is the most important aspect of the early-morning habit. If you try to get up early just because you think you should or because some external force (job, family, etc.) demands it, pulling yourself out of bed will feel like a chore. Instead of treating an early start as a challenge to yourself—something that requires willpower—approach it with clear intentions: get up early because you want alone time (or couple time) before jobs and care-taking start; because you want to make the most of daylight hours, especially in winter months; because you want time to gather your thoughts and plan for a more productive day. When you have clear reasons why you want to get up early, then you can harness your “why-power.” If you stay connected to why you want to get up early, it’s no longer a challenge but a way of life.
2. REMEMBER THAT IT’S NOT JUST EARLIER, IT’S DIFFERENT
It’s an old adage that in order to be different you must do something differently. Whatever your current situation or mindset, getting up earlier is one thing you can change. This is the premise of Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning, in which he insists that, before you can grow professionally, “you must first dedicate time each day to becoming the person you need to be.” Elrod claims that he wakes up before dawn each morning and jumps out of bed like it’s Christmas. I have to admit, his spirit is infectious—I’m starting to feel the same way. It’s amazing how good it feels to get up and start the day on your own terms. Even if you are already in the habit of rising early (for work or childcare or some other external reason), carving out some time for yourself beforehand to do an activity that makes you feel good and grounded will make you your best self for the day ahead. As an entrepreneur, you have all the more reason to wake up each day and use that extra time to be grateful for controlling your own destiny.
Waking up energized in the morning requires getting a restful sleep the night before, so these next few tips address our bedtime habits. First, keep the bedroom sacred, i.e. screen-free. Many of us take our smartphones and tablets to bed with us—we want to watch one last video or check email one last time before hitting the sack. But sleep researchers have found that the artificial light of these screens can interrupt our internal clock and interfere with our slumber. For a restful sleep, disconnect from your devices before you go into the bedroom. Keep a book, sketchpad, or journal at your bedside so you can wind down without your devices.
4. INVEST IN A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Never underestimate the power of a quality mattress and pillow. I spent years using a pillow that was never quite comfortable. I knew it wasn’t the best, but I didn’t fully realize how much my sub-par pillow was affecting my rest, leading to groggy mornings and a lackluster start to my days. I was recently purchased this pillow and it has been a game-changer. I’d also recommend a good mattress if you are not getting a good nights rest. Or, a mattress topper will help complete your sleeping oasis. Investing a little bit in your bedding can help take the struggle out of falling asleep—and out of getting up!
Early in the morning, it’s much easier to hit the ground running if you’ve made a clear plan the night before and even prepped the things that can be laid out ahead of time. Load the coffee maker, set out exercise clothes and shoes, pull up that article you want to read, or have a podcast or playlist cued up. The more items you can take off the morning’s action list, the fewer excuses you’ll have to stay in bed. And knowing that you’ve taken care of this prep work will lead to a more relaxed, restful sleep, too.
6. HAVE A ROUTINE
If you plan ahead well, then the first steps of your early morning will be so easy that you won’t have to think about them. A simple routine is essential: go through the same motions each morning so that it becomes second nature. Every morning when my alarm goes off, I automatically roll out of bed, turn on the coffee maker, and hop in the shower. By the time I hop out, I feel wide awake (the smell of freshly brewed coffee doesn’t hurt) and I’m ready to start the day. It doesn’t matter what your routine is; just make sure you have a few easy steps that can become automatic habits. You’re more likely to get up right away if you have a clear path to follow—no thinking, just doing.
7. CHOOSE YOUR CLOCK WISELY
Figure out your preferred wake-up method. Natural light is usually a pleasant way to wake up, so I recommend opening the blinds before you go to sleep—the early morning sun will alert your body that a new day is starting. To amplify that effect, I’ve been using this wake-up light for the past couple of months, and it has made a huge difference. If you need a little more coaxing, go with a clock radio. The sound of music or news will stimulate your brain and perk you up more than just a generic alarm sound. That said, if you are a really reluctant waker, I recently heard about an app called Alarmy that forces you out of bed by blaring an annoying noise until you go take a picture in a different room of your house. Whatever it takes! Just find the wake-up style that works for you and stick to it.
8. MAKE YOUR MORNING APPETIZING
Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, more than that, it can be a delicious incentive for the early riser. Going along with Tip #4 about planning ahead, there are a number of ways that you can set yourself up for a scrumptious first meal of the day. With the popular single-cup coffee machines, you can have your favorite coffee blend ready in a minute or two. The Vitamix blender and the Ninja are both great machines that can whip up a single-serving smoothie in a jiff—keep frozen fruit on hand and store supplement powders with your blender so that a nutritious smoothie becomes your easy go-to. For a breakfast that is literally ready and waiting, make overnight oats the night before and wake up to a hearty treat. Whatever your tastes, an easy but appetizing breakfast will help lure you out of bed.
9. TREAT YOURSELF
Allow yourself to create the morning of your dreams—what would you love to be able to do everyday but just don’t have time? This is your time to indulge in something that you know makes you feel good and inspired. It’s a bonus hour that’s just about you. Take 15 minutes to meditate, do some stretching and gentle exercise, go for a sunrise stroll, or spend some time reading a book or article you’ve been interested in. I like to gather my thoughts by writing in a journal in the morning: I alternate between a journal with fun prompts (to ignite my creative spark) and a goal journal (to make plans, get organized, and take stock). Figure out a series of activities that makes your new morning time a treat. The more excited you are about your morning activity, the more motivated you will be to hop out of bed and get started on it. And being “selfish” with your first hour of the day will free you up to direct your energy outward for the rest of the day.
10. MAKE IT SOCIAL
A lot of people relish their morning time because it’s quiet and solitary… but it doesn’t have to be! Developing an early-morning community can give you a dose of camaraderie, which can be especially welcome among entrepreneurs who spend much of their day in a home office or working on solo projects. One day a week, I venture out to a local cafe for breakfast. It’s more of a splurge than eating at home, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind that comes from having my first interaction of the day be a pleasant face-to-face encounter (versus email or a work-related conversation). If you plan to use your new early-morning time for exercise, you could make that social as well. Apps like MindBody Connect let you register and pay for local fitness classes in advance, and sites like exercisefriends.com pair you with like-minded (and early rising!) workout buddies, so you’ll have a support system (and some healthy peer pressure) to help you get up and go.
I hope these 10 tips for waking up early help and motivate you to rise with the sun 🙂 Please comment below with what has helped you get up early. What benefits have you seen? Please share!
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