how to be a morning person
I have always wanted to be a morning person. But I am in love with my bed. We have a very serious and longterm committed bond. I have worked really hard to have the perfect bed. I have silk pillowcases, high thread count sheets, a cozy duvet, and a just thick enough quilt that weighs it all down and keeps me snug as a bug. I wear a sleep mask and I have put my phone on the other side of the room (more on that later). I wrote a post about how I was a perpetual sleeper-inner when I was younger, and I still fight that urge almost every single day.
It all started about a year ago. My husband was drowning at work. He would come home exhausted and forlorn about how to dig himself out of the mountains of work that faced him daily. I suggested to him that he go in to work earlier than usual. He was starting his day at 8, and by then the barrage of emails were attacking his inbox. Everything I had read told me that was a dire mistake. "The most successful people are up before dawn" "If you want to accomplish anything it has to be done before everyone else comes into the office" "There are enough hours in the day, you're just sleeping for the best ones".
I used to set my alarm by counting backwards from departure time through the things I needed to do before leaving the house at the exact last minute. Dress, makeup, eat, teeth brushed, I had it down to about 20 minutes. I even showered at night so that I could have a few more minutes of precious sleep in the morning. I read a blog not too long ago that said that as a family they allotted an extra 15 minutes every morning for the accidents, the forgotten things, or simply as time to connect as a family before the hectic day began. They wanted their kids to have a great start to their day and that meant an extra 15 minutes.
Huh. You can have a morning that isn't rushing to do things and yelling at your dog to hurry up? This intrigued me. I used to laugh at sitcoms where the family would come downstairs dressed and ready for the day, in a good mood, and even sociable. This was never any morning I experienced...on a weekday anyway.
My husband is very relational. He loves people and prefers to have company doing most things. And I knew that in order for him to be successful in getting up earlier he would need company. Even if it was a feigned attempt at company. I would set my alarm on my phone and leave it on the other side of the room. But that only worked for like a day. I would unplug my phone, silence the alarm, and take it back to bed with me and read Facebook for an hour or two, or I would slide it under my pillow and drift off in my cozy bed for another hour or two.
I fought hard to become a morning person and I know that it is a slippery slope. I could easily become the lazy sloth monster with one or two little slips. But the wonderful thing is that the lazy sloth monster has become 8 am, instead of 10 or even 11 am. I honestly cannot believe the productive person that I have harnessed as a result of getting up a little bit earlier.
I figured out that 6 am was just too early and it hurt. But 6:30 is totally manageable. So I changed my alarm to reflect that. I also either get up and make my bed or get out of my bedroom as quickly as possible. If I even flirt with the idea of returning to my lover (my bed) I'm done for.
I have also recently started leaving my phone in my room on the dresser instead of being one with it first thing in the morning and throughout the whole day. I go and enjoy a warm cup of coffee (another motivation to get up: we brew coffee in a Chemex so if I don't get up I don't get warm/hot coffee in the morning) and wake up my dog. She takes after me, I will open her crate door and she often stays in there - refusing to get up, until I entice her with food or cuddles. I'm not kidding, I will sit on the couch petting the air to make her get out of bed. She can't resist a good belly scratch in the morning.
I will enjoy my cup of coffee while I eat breakfast and wrap my head around the day. And since it is warming up outside I have had to take my dog for her walk in the morning to avoid overheating at her usual walk time - lunch hour. But it's great because it doesn't cut into anything, that extra half hour that I have in the morning can be spent doing whatever I want to do. I can take my dog for a walk, make a lovely breakfast, write a blog post, or just sit in my pjs and sip on delicious coffee.
It's easier to be a convert in the summer when the sun is up before you. But I am hopeful that these habits will be hard to break come hibernation time.
I've also learned that being hard on myself and berating my silliness at sleeping in does nothing for me except make me feel bad about myself. It doesn't make me get up earlier, it doesn't make me want to get up earlier (fear of "failure"), it's just me being mean to me. And morning people aren't mean, they are happy, they are more productive, they earn more money, they are more physically fit - all of this is found in research, and it's true. But this is only how I do it and I don't want you to follow my 'ten easy steps'. Figure out what works for you by trying a few things and failing at a few less things. That's how to do anything successfully.