With September almost over, my first month of my personal happiness project is almost complete. The biggest — and best — change I made this month was shifting my wake-up time up 45 minutes, from 7:15am to 6:30am, and then use my morning to be productive, whether it’s write a blog post, clean the house, or work out.
Now that it’s pitch black outside, waking up at 6:30 isn’t as much fun as it was in early September. I’m looking forward to daylight savings time! But, overall, it’s been not as difficult a transition as I thought it would be. So I thought I’d share my tips with you!
1) Go to bed early.
This one seems obvious, but it’s true. I used to go to bed at 11, and now I try to be in bed by 10. I also try to follow a “no screens after 9:30” rule and spend that last half hour reading a book or magazine or just taking my time with getting ready for bed. Figure out how much sleep you need, then work backwards. Gretchen Rubin, the happiness guru, says that if you’re too tired to do anything but watch TV or surf the internet, just go to bed and she’s right — it makes a world of difference.
2) Get a good alarm clock.
I use the SleepCycle app on my iPhone and it works great for me. I set the window to wake me up between 6:20 and 6:40 and I’m usually up and out of bed by 6:35. Your alarm clock shouldn’t be aggressive (unless you’re into that) because it’ll just anger you — and that’s not the way to start your day. Think of your alarm clock as your perky friend.
3) When your alarm clock goes off, get up.
Just get up. Don’t think about it. Don’t hit snooze. It doesn’t matter how not awake you are, as soon as you are stumbling around in the dark, you’ll wake up. 90% of life is just showing up, my basketball coach used to say, and that is 100% true in this case. (It’s also one of my happiness commandments. )Put your alarm across your room, turn on your lights immediately, it doesn’t matter. Just get up.
4) Find a morning radio show you love.
My mornings have gotten so much more pleasant when I remember to turn on Metro Morning right away. Not only does the sound perk you up, it’s a great way to get informed and wake up your brain as you go about your morning. Talk radio, music radio, choose something you like and turn it on.
5) Make all your big decisions before you go to sleep.
As in: know what you are going to wear, know what you are going to eat and know what you need to get done in the morning. You don’t have to lay your clothes out like an eager school kid, but eliminating decisions in the easy morning haze will make early wake-ups less stressful and more productive.
6) Invest is a time-set coffee maker.
If you love coffee, this is key. I set mine to start brewing at 6am. By 6:30, the smell of coffee is in the air and I can grab it as soon as I wake up. I love the ritual of coffee and it sets the tone for my day. Find a ritual that works for you. Maybe it’s tea or lemon water or doing 25 push-ups the moment you wake up. Having a ritual sets a positive tone for the morning.
7) Decide to make change.
Waking up earlier is like losing weight or working out. You need to want to make the change in your life. Once you’ve set this intention, stick with it. It’ll happen.
Waking up early isn’t for everyone. But it’s made me much happier. It’s made me more productive. Chores I hate aren’t as awful in the early morning. I can come home from work late or say yes to an unexpected social engagement because I’m done whatever I was putting off for after work. And I’m not perfect — I’ve slept in since making this change or I’ve not done anything on my list. But like life, it’s a process.
Do you have any tips on waking up early? Let us know’ we’d love to hear them!