I struggled for years trying to fit in my blogging after a busy day at my day job. It was so difficult trying to post regularly and balance my work and family commitments. One morning I was lying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off when I realized I should just get up and make better use of my time. That was the changing point for me. Since then I’ve been setting my alarm to wake early and get some work done before my day job.
We spend one third of our lives in bed. Just imagine how much more you could accomplish if you didn’t sleep so much. Of course we all need sleep to function properly, but what we really should be striving for is quality sleep. This guide will show you how to wake early and get stuff done while still getting the amount of quality sleep you need.
Eight Tips to Help You Wake Early and Get Stuff Done
Go to Bed When You’re Tired
From childhood, we’ve been programed to go to bed at a set time. As you’ve got older your bedtime has probably crept towards, or even past, midnight. The best thing you can do is ditch your bedtime and go to bed when you’re tired. Don’t force yourself to wait until the end of the movie or until you’ve finished reading the next chapter of your book. If you feel your eyes getting heavy, that’s your body telling you it needs sleep, and unless you want to feel terrible in the morning, you should listen to it.
Get up at the Same Time Every Day
Yes, even weekends. What better way to confuse your body than sleeping twice as long on two days of the week? Set an alarm clock for the time you want to wake up and stick with it seven days a week. Sure, it will be hard at first, but soon your body will adjust to the routine and you’ll settle into a natural rhythm of going to bed when you’re tired and waking at the same time every day feeling refreshed and well-rested.
How much earlier should you wake? I like to get a good solid hour’s work done before the rest of the house starts to wake, so I set my alarm 75 minutes earlier than the rest of my family. If you think that’s going to be too much of a shock to your system, try waking just fifteen minutes earlier for few days, then another fifteen minutes until you reach your target wake-up time.
Don’t Hit the Snooze Button
The snooze button is your enemy. Sure, it feels good to lie in a comfortable bed delaying the inevitable or even catching a few extra minutes sleep. But it isn’t going to be quality sleep, and lying there thinking about how warm and comfortable you are is only going to make it harder to get up. So, as soon as your alarm goes off, sit up slowly, swing your legs out, stretch, yawn and get out of bed.
If you find your alarm clock is shocking you out of sleep, leaving your head feeling abused, I’d recommend a sunrise-simulation clock which switches on 30 minutes before your desired wakeup time and gradually gets brighter, waking you gently from sleep.
Getting out of Bed Is the Hardest Part
Once you’re out of bed, you’ve won. Give yourself a pat on the back. The next thing is get out of your bedroom. Your bed’s still warm and cozy and calling you back, so get away from it as quickly as you can. I put my clothes in another room the night before so I can get dressed without being tempted back to bed and without disturbing my wife who doesn’t want to wake early. Taking a cool shower or just splashing your face with water is a good way to banish any sleepiness.
Get Moving Straight Away
Don’t make a cup of coffee then sit down in your most comfortable chair. You got out of bed to get stuff done, so get on with it. Get the coffee brewing and switch on your computer. See if you can get an outline of your next blog post drafted before the coffee’s ready. If it’s a nice day, open some windows and let the fresh air clear your sleepy head. Even better, take your laptop out into the garden or on the balcony and work outside. For me, there’s no better time than early in the morning when the only sounds are the birds and the wind in the trees. It’s like you’ve got the whole world to yourself for an hour or two.
Have a Morning Routine
Your head’s going to be a bit fuzzy when you first get up, so give your morning self a break and get your things ready the night before. Layout your clothes, get the coffee things ready, tidy your desk and prepare your morning to do list. I’d also advice including a little incentive in your routine to make things easier. Buy the premium coffee you like and save it just for your first cup of the day for example.
Plan the Enjoyable Tasks for Mornings
Let’s face it, getting out of bed is hard enough, but if you’ve got to do a really unpleasant task, it’s going to be even harder to wake early. Give your morning self a break by planning something interesting or enjoyable for the morning. I often find that if I have set myself the task of drafting a blog post I’m really interested in, I’m up and out of bed before the alarm goes off just because I can’t wait to get started.
Revel in the Fact You’re Ahead of the Competition
I love the feeling of knowing you’ve got a head start on the competition by getting a little work done in the mornings. Even an hour planning and drafting a blog post gives me a sense of achievement that carries me through the day. As an added bonus, it leaves me feeling like that hour wasn’t enough. I want to get working on the blog post some more, get it polished and get it published. Being able to wake early improves your productivity for the whole day, not just the morning.