One day I’ll write a proper rant about how the morning is the best time of day and how I’m always so happy when I get up early – but for now let’s assume that’s a given, and that you’re a night owl (like myself) who wants to start getting up early. Where to start?
First, let’s talk about preparations the night before. We’ve all heard “make sure you relax and do something calming before bed” etc. many, many times before. So I won’t cover that again. There are however a few things that I’ve found make my life considerably easier the next morning.
1) Make sure you actually want to go to get up early. If you consistently find yourself at your most creative after 11pm, or you want to spend an evening at the pub, or falling in the dark pits of youtube, do that. Do not attempt to get up early unless you actually want to! There’s literally no point. The morning is such a beautiful time, and in fact my favourite time of day, but if there’s one thing that’ll make you not appreciate it it’s making yourself wake up when you in fact would rather not. I touched on this in my early morning trend post, but it’s always important to check you’re getting enough sleep – don’t set ridiculous goals that aren’t sustainable. Don’t get up early because you feel you “should”, or because you want to be productive, or because you’re trying to compete with Mark Wahlberg’s insane “schedule”. Do it only if you genuinely want to be up early, and are excited about the prospect of getting up with the sun. Which brings me to point #2…
2) Get yourself excited about the next morning. In order to enjoy the morning, you need to spend several hours before bed actually looking forward to going to bed. The prospect of “tomorrow morning” must be more exciting than the prospect of “tonight” for this to work. There needs to be something to look forward to. For me, it’s the calm feeling of looking out at the garden, watching the sunrise (because it’s winter and the sun rises insanely late), and having a cup of tea and a quiet breakfast. I try to keep away from electronics in the morning – evenings are for catching up on Netflix, mornings are for doing absolutely nothing and feeling time stand still and knowing you have a full day ahead of you. This has definitely changed for me with age, by the way – 5 years ago I did NOT feel the way I do now. On days where I decide to get an early night, I actually start looking forward to bed before dinner (how sad). Ah, the joys of growing old. Now, there are some barriers to enjoying your morning, which brings me to point #3…
3) Tidy for 20 minutes each evening. If you hate tidying stick on an episode of Friends and use that as your timer. If you want some tidying tips check out my post on Marie Kondo’s method. If nothing else, I recommend tidying the area you’ll be spending your morning in – the kitchen, dining room, living room, conservatory, wherever. Wash some dishes, fold some clothes, wipe down the surfaces. Whatever is needed to make that space somewhere you’d like to go first thing in the morning. There’s nothing worse than waking up to mess – it just doesn’t feel like home. Think of it as a present for future you.
We now move on to the morning itself.
First and foremost, make sure you’re not using your phone as an alarm. Trust me, it’s worth investing in an actual alarm clock. I personally have a Lumie one which I love as it wakes you up with light, but any alarm will do. In fact, leave your phone charging in a different room entirely if possible – checking your emails first thing does not lead to a calm, stress-free day!
Now: don’t snooze. I feel like there’s almost no point in writing this, as me typing this up is going to have no impact whatsoever on any reader. I’ve heard “don’t snooze” a million times, from every source I’ve ever gone to on tips for waking up early, and yet I still snoozed. It seems so logical that waking up slowly should be easier than waking up quickly – after all, I’ve never been much of a “plunge in the deep end”, “rip the bandaid off” kind of gal. However, I can confirm that it is 100% true, snooze is the devil and makes everything so, so much worse.
So what’s the best way not to snooze? I’ve heard various suggestions – moving the alarm further away, using one of those alarm puzzles you have to solve first thing in the morning – but I’m personally not a fan of these tricks. To me, that’s all they are: tricks. They force you out of bed, but if you don’t actually want to get out of bed, you’re just going to start the day out grumpy and even more tired. So here are my alarm tips:
First of all, set two alarms. One for the time you want to wake up – say it’s a weekend and you want to wake up at 8am, even though you don’t have a commitment until 12:30. Set another, backup alarm, for the latest you could possibly wake up and still make your appointment – say 11am in this case. You don’t want to accidentally fall asleep on your first alarm and wake up again later in a panic over whether you’re late. If you have absolutely nothing on that day, of course, just set the one alarm.
Now, remember that getting up is a choice. If you wake up at 8am on a Saturday and you think “I’ve made a mistake, I feel horrendous and I think it’s more important that I rest today”, then for the love of god go back to bed. On the flip side, this means you’ll only wake up early when you choose to, and therefore you’ll associate it with this positive, empowering mentality.
Finally – and this is the trick for me – when you’re lying in bed, about to fall asleep, picture yourself getting up. Imagine the alarm ringing, and visualise yourself getting up immediately, going to turn it off, and getting straight out of bed. You can also repeat “I will get up at [insert time]” a few times to yourself, or “I want to get up at [insert time]”. It’s crazy that this should work, but it does. I learnt this as a child when I needed to catch a very early flight – my mother taught me this trick and I swear to god it works, even if you don’t really want to get up at 5am. Just repeat it to yourself a few times, and in the morning you won’t even think about it – before you know what’s happening, you’ll already be up.
Ok, so you’re up, you didn’t snooze, you made it out of bed and you’re now sitting in whatever location you cleared the night before. Now what?
First of all – and I cannot emphasise this enough – stay AWAY from technology, particularly social media. The good news is, most people don’t tend to be active in the morning, so you can catch a break that way. I recommend just putting your phone in a different room entirely. (By the way, if you want any tips on having your phone interfere less in your life check out my post on phone addiction.) Try to picture yourself in a rural setting, without the wonders of modern technology, and take the time to enjoy the little things. The birds singing in the trees, a breath of fresh air, a moment of quiet.
Second, make sure you take a bit of time for yourself. Don’t jump straight into getting things done and checking things off a list. Take a moment to make a nice breakfast, shower if you need to, read a book, light some candles, do a bit of tidying – whatever floats your boat, as long as it’s slow and calm. You know what’s crazy? I can have a quiet morning where I take everything super “slowly” and take my time with everything I do, and somehow I still feel like my time isn’t slipping away from me in the same way it does in the evenings. I don’t know why that is. Maybe your brain works more quickly when you’ve just woken up, and so time feels like it’s passing more slowly by comparison? I digress.
To be honest, that’s all I’d recommend. Every time I read* about people’s “morning routines” (a favourite hobby of mine, by the way), although I find it incredibly satisfying, I almost feel like “doing calm things in the morning” can quickly turn into another set of chores. Things like morning pages, or meditating, or drinking a “detoxifying glass of lemon water” (Really? What even is that, who decided a slice of lemon in your water is “detoxifying”? And by the way, that’s going to erode your enamel. Unless your teeth are the “toxic” substance you’re trying to rid yourself of). Just do you.
* “read” in this context means “watch youtube videos”
The one thing I would suggest is: if you find it hard to regularly fit cleaning and tidying into your day, consider the morning. For some reason unbeknownst to me it feels much less agonising when you’ve just woken up.
If you’ve read my post on breakfasts for people who hate breakfast, you’ll know I’m not usually the biggest breakfast fan. However, lots of people appear to love breakfast in a way that’s inconceivable to me. Use that. If you’re going to get up early, make sure you’re getting the world’s most awesome breakfast. If you want a fry up, go for it. If you want pancakes, make pancakes. You can even go out for a nice breakfast, something I’ve done a couple times recently and am trying to start doing more often. Society is very much structured around evenings – meeting friends after work, going for a drink (which makes it harder to wake up in the morning, and the cycle continues). Let’s make mornings more of a thing. Consider meeting friends for breakfast, or going on a breakfast date with your significant other. I can highly recommend!
The good thing about all this is it helps with point #2 above. It’s much easier to be excited about something when food and/or social activities are involved.
So there you have it, my tips for waking up early! Let me know if these work for you or if you have any other suggestions.