I’ve never met an adult who couldn’t use an extra 5 minutes of sleep. But I’ve also met people who love to wake up early and seize the day. In fact, I never thought that I’d become a morning person, but I have.
You see, I used to believe that mornings and evenings belonged to different people. The early birds actually enjoyed rolling out of bed before sunrise, while night owls found themselves most productive once most others had gone to bed.
What I’ve discovered more recently, though, is the desire to take charge of my days– and weeks– and I’ve realized that it all starts with mornings. Mornings are when we set the tone for the remaining hours. We wake up for whatever is most important to us.
So, the challenge is to be train ourselves to wake up for that most important thing.
Why I’ve fallen in love with mornings
Note that this article is not just how to become a morning person; it’s about becoming a morning person, and loving it. I’ve come to love that quiet hour I get at home without feeling particularly rushed. I love arriving at work without the urge to inject more caffeine into my arteries. I love having the choice in the morning to decide what is going to matter that day.
In other words, mornings offer benefits that evenings simply don’t. Here are a few:
- The opportunity to do your best at something that matters. You won’t be tired from a whole day.
- The quietness in which to reflect, plan, pray, and hope for a day that exceeds expectations.
- The calmness that is free of unfinished work from a busy day.
- The option to examine any stress or emotion before the start of a long day.
Becoming a morning person is not an easy goal to achieve. Like I said, we could all use that extra 5 minutes (or hour) to snooze. But the productivity and intentionality that comes from an early morning can easily offset the late nights that result from lack of planning and procrastination.
How to fall in love with your mornings
Everyone’s schedules are different, but there’s one thing most of us have in common: we don’t get to lie around in our pjs, hassle-free and worry-free, till noon. Instead, whether we work at home, work at an office, attend school, or send others to the office or to school, our mornings are often fraught with demands even before we step out the door.
Then, once out the door, there are a hundred things to remember throughout the day. Projects are due. Meetings are scheduled. Deadlines approach. Errands require attention. Once the day really starts, it rarely ends before bedtime.
So what are the steps to loving your mornings? It generally starts with an evaluation.
Step 1: Evaluate your current mornings.
How would you like to feel in the morning? Calm? Energized? Motivated? Purposeful? Write down the emotions you wish you had in the morning, and some reasons why they’re not what they need to be (yet).
Then, determine which activities would help cultivate those emotions. Making the most of your mornings does not always mean getting up earlier to work. It might mean work, but it might mean simply starting a load of laundry, preparing a meal, listening to an audiobook, or writing in your journal while sipping a cup of tea.
Step 2: Adjust your sleep schedule by 15 minutes each day.
No need to get up at 5AM when you’re used to rolling out of bed closer to 8:30. Start slowly and work your way up. But don’t hit the snooze button!
With your extra time each day as you adjust, do something that gets your body to wake up. It could be making that first cup of coffee, or stepping outside for a few minutes of fresh air. Enjoy the thought of seconds ticking by as you simply prepare your mind for the day ahead.
Step 3: Start with one thing you love.
What is it that you want to do in the mornings? Eat a full breakfast? Hit the gym? Read? Write? Delineate a schedule that breaks it down to increments of 1 minute. Give yourself time to experiment with what works well. Make sure to include a few buffer minutes so that you still get out the door on time.
Step 4: Begin to cultivate a routine.
We are creatures of habit, capable of learning nearly any behavior as long as it’s repeated enough. Reward yourself with something small each time you actually get up early enough. Soon, the act of being awake and having that extra time will become the reward.
As your routine solidifies, decide whether you want to bring others into it. Perhaps other family members want to sip that coffee with you, or work on their pet projects as you work on yours. Accountability is always helpful; but if you need that time alone, then make sure you get it.
Step 5: Maintain your routine… even on the weekends.
I usually wake up at 6:30AM on weekends now. It’s just natural– my body has adjusted and I no longer desire to sleep much more.
My mornings are usually quiet as I sip cold water with lemon and look out the window. There’s so little silence throughout my day that I’ve just come to cherish these moments. Even on the weekends, when we no doubt have something going on, I’ve found myself loving the calm of the morning. Sometimes early weekend mornings are even sweeter, because I know that everyone on my street is likely asleep.
The bottom line: use your mornings well, and you will love it.
Again, I can’t think of anyone who would reject the extra 5 minutes of sleep; but I also can’t think of anyone who became intentional with their mornings, and didn’t love it.
The challenge to become a morning person is in the beginning, when we feel the loss of sleep so acutely. But once we begin to shift our schedules, we find that mornings offer so much more than evenings do.
So whether you need time to be alone, to equip yourself, to pursue a personal goal, or to carefully plan your day, I hope you’ll fall in love with mornings too.