A long long time ago, I read a book called “Early to Rise” by Andy Traub. I am going to be completely honest here and tell you the reasons why I decided to start waking up earlier (back in 2008), I wanted to get more work done! There, I said it! When I was running a busy recruitment agency, I would meet temporary staff at 5.30am to “check them in” and I always felt quite alive at that time of the morning. The penny dropped and I now had a new way to get more stuff done! The workaholic in me thought that this was brilliant and I remember feeling frustrated that I hadn't really thought about it before.
Fast forward ten years and I now not longer get up to work! This is now a sacred time of the day which is just for me, and I love it!
Tip #1 – The problem with getting up early, you need to go to bed early!
Now, there is one problem with getting up early. If you do not go to bed early then you are simply burning yourself out. You are not as productive or creative as you plan to be and you end up talking gobbledegook. I have lost business due to my “brain mushy afternoon blunders”.
If you want to be an early riser, then you first need to learn how to go to bed early! I am usually in bed around 9 pm and fast asleep by 10 pm. I rise anytime from 4.30am-5am and I am set for the day.
I have now mastered my morning routine (which no longer includes emails, writing blogs, creating content etc) – my morning's are the best part of the day because they are all about me! I literally jump out of bed in the mornings as I know that I have a good few hours of “me time”. So what is the secret?
Part of my routine is to turn off my phone (I actually put it on aeroplane mode) and leave it charging when I get into bed. With aeroplane mode, this automatically puts my Apple Watch into the same mode, so I do not get notifications constantly on my wrist whilst sleeping. The only electronic item that I use at night is my kindle.
Tip #3 – Journal your thoughts.
I use the ZLYC range of journals, as I like the feel of the leather and it never dates (it just gets better with age). The ZLYC range has refills which last approximately three months I spend 5 mins in the morning updating my journal with a few thoughts, three things to be grateful for and an affirmation. As part of my bedtime routine, I write down a minimum of three good things that have happened today. I often waffle on for ages which include thoughts and ideas for the future, but it is a great way to empty your mind and prepare you for sleep. There is no worrying about “I better not forget that cracking idea!”.
Tip #4 – Read to distract your mind
In the past, I have read lots of self-development or inspirational biographies etc before bed, but I found that getting to sleep was difficult as these types of books stirred my creative mind, which is not good when you are trying to rest. We are all different, but now I prefer to read something a bit lighter. For example, the George Mahood books, chick lit, or something that is easy to read and doesn't stir too many emotions. At the moment I am reading a book about one man's journey as he walks along the Pacific Crest Trail, and I have just completed Ben Fogel's book about climbing Everest.
I still read inspirational books, but I tend to consume these via audiobooks when I am travelling.
Tip #5 – Set your alarm but DO NOT hit that snooze button
Snooze, you lose! If you are currently waking up at 7.30am, then please do not expect miracles. You will not be able to sustain getting up at 4.30am if your body clock accustomed to waking up at a different time. It is a bit like having jetlag and it takes time to re-adjust. Have a goal of waking up at your new time within the next 5-7 days. Start setting your alarm clock 15 mins before your regular time. Then the next day, add another 15 mins until you are getting up at the time that suits you. But, my rule is to never hit snooze. The alarm goes off, simply swipe your legs from under the duvet and onto the floor. Grab a jumper or dressing gown and head downstairs, which is where that magic nectar is waiting for you…. coffee!
If you are still battling getting up in the mornings after a week or so, then it is time to take drastic action. You need to have serious words with your inner chimp. My inner chimp is called “Charlie”. If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about then it is time to hop over to Amazon and purchase a book called The Chimp Paradox right now! You will not regret it. If you struggle to stick to your goals, and your inner you convince you to hit the snooze button, have that cake, go for that walk etc, then this is the book for you.
Tip #6 – Water
They should rename water as “magical liquid” because that is what it is. A glass of water on your bedside is like magic when you wake up in the night thirsty, and if you drink a glass of water first thing then you will kick start your day in the right way. Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less. Why wouldn't we drink water? (Perhaps it is because coffee is also available, and we like coffee!). Coffee has water in it though, so surely that counts?
Tip #7 – Give yourself a morning routine that you enjoy
If you are getting out of bed, checking your emails, going downstairs, grabbing a coffee and then watching two hours of YouTube videos and then spending time on Facebook, then your time would be better spent in the land of nod. I have created endless different routines over the years, but now that I no longer spend my mornings behind a computer, I make sure that the time between 4.45pm and 7 am is time well spend on me.
I love to walk, so my morning routine includes a 1.5-2mile walk (with or without the dog, depending on her mood). My walking clothes are hanging in the spare room, so I literally get dressed and grab the dog lead and I am off. I am usually out the door by 5am, which was a bit scary in the dark at first, but now I am accustomed to it. I find that I am my most creative when I am out in nature, and all sorts of ideas pop into my head. When I return, I pop into the shower and the creative ideas continue (why do we always have good ideas in the shower?).
Other things that I either do now or have tried in the past as part of my morning routine:-
- The Seven App – seven exercises in 7 minutes.
- I always spend time writing my journal and printing my little photos from the previous day. (Polaroid Zip)
- Cook breakfast and leave it in the hotplate for the family
- Make hubby a fresh coffee
- Sort out the to-do list for today and update my “one thing” to achieve today. (I use an app called Tick Tick)
- Meditation – a good app is called Headspace (I also use Pzizz to help me get to sleep).
- Creative Writing – I worked through a 12-week creative writing course which was super effective.
- Practice the art of productive mediation (a great book called Deep Work by Cal Newport showed me this trick – its great, especially if you have a problem of an issue that you need to solve).
- Stretch, do Yoga, or even pray – whatever suits your personal style.
Getting up early has been a way of life for me for over ten years now. It is a pain when I am nearly falling asleep at a wedding reception or a girls night out, but hey, the pro's certainly outweighed the cons.
I am curious. What is your morning routine? What do you do to keep yourself motivated in the morning?