My girlfriend has two nephews, a nine-year-old and an eleven-year-old. Like most kids their age, they tend to have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Their mom has to set two alarm clocks, yell up the stairs, and eventually pull the covers down and drag them to the bathroom to get ready. This happens pretty much every day of the year. Except one.
On Christmas morning, the boys told me they woke up at 4:00am. They wanted to get their parents up right then to open presents, but decided to go back to bed until 6:00 to avoid dad’s wrath.
Although I’ve never really celebrated Christmas, as a kid I’ve had similar feelings. While I would happily sleep in most days, on mornings before Six Flags or when I had a new video game to play, I never seemed to have an issue waking up at the crack of dawn.
I am not alone.
There are days we can easily get out of bed and days we can’t. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not your fault. It’s not a lack of willpower or the fact that you’re not trying hard enough to become a morning person.
“The reason we stay in bed in the morning is because our brains get fatigued by thinking about all the things we have to do that day. We’re thinking about tasks rather than things that are making us happy. But the reverse is also true. If you’re thinking about things you’re looking forward to, that makes it easier to get out of bed. What your brain focuses on is your reality.” – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
When you wake up and mentally run through your upcoming day, you set the tone for the next 24 hours. If it’s Christmas, of course you want to leap out of bed. If it’s Monday, you probably have a ton to do and you’re reflecting fondly on the weekend. No wonder you want to hit snooze.
The problem is that the more you hit snooze and the longer you delay, the less power you have to be creative.
People tend to be most productive in the first 2-5 hours of waking, and if you’re wasting that time lying in bed or rushing to work, you’re burning through your best hours. To be most effective, you need to get out of bed when the alarm goes off and use your morning wisely.
Even if it’s Monday, here are five ways to skip snooze, make every day a bit more like Christmas, and become a morning person.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE
This is so obvious, I almost didn’t include it. But it’s too important to skip.
The guy who says he only needs 4 hours of sleep is either lying or on the verge of mental collapse. There is no award for staying up late. You need 7-9 solid hours if you want to operate at peak capacity.
Never feel bad being the first one to leave a party. Make sleep a priority.
HAVE A MORNING RITUAL
I might have a crappy day coming up, but before I even think about it, I get out of bed and savor my morning ritual. For me, it’s walking the dog while listening to a podcast, reading a book or some of my favorite blogs, and drinking a mug of coffee. Only then do I start dreading coming day.
You can make a ritual out of anything that makes you happy when you wake up. But looking forward to a morning ritual means you always have the energy you need to get out of bed.
ELIMINATE POINTS OF FRICTION
There are so many little annoyances in the morning – choosing an outfit, making coffee, dealing with a cold apartment. The funny thing is, all of these little annoyances are in your power to fix. Set your outfit out the night before. Have your coffee set up so all you have to do is hit “start” (or buy it). Turn up the heat.
Every small annoyance degrades your willpower and makes it harder to get up. All you need to do is set aside ten minutes the night before to solve all your little problems.
LOVE YOUR SPACE
If your apartment is ugly or you hate your office, of course you’re going to want to stay in bed. No one wants to spend time in an environment they don’t like. So redecorate! If you love your space, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to jump out of bed.
BE THE FIRST OUT OF BED
When you wake up first, you feel sneaky. Like a kid on Christmas morning.
I love it when my girlfriend’s asleep, the dog’s snoring, and the cat’s doing…whatever it is cats do. I get to do anything I want without other people getting in the way. I get to savor the silence and ease into the morning, without all the craziness you’ll deal with if you wake up last minute and have to rush.
I don’t really believe in the whole whole idea of “morning people” and “night owls.” Those are just labels that justify our choices. When you sleep in, drink lots of caffeine, and go out at 10pm, you’re choosing to be a night owl. When you follow these tips, you’re choosing to become a morning person.
Neither set of decisions is inherently wrong. But when you snooze, you lose, at least as far as your creativity is concerned.