By the time I was a senior in college, I was living on the typical college schedule and doing work until 2-3am and then waking up at 10 or 11am (because needless to say by the time I had the flexibility to choose my own classes and fulfilled all of my major requirements I didn’t schedule any classes before 11am). After graduation when I started my first job, I realized that this lifestyle was not sustainable. I could not go to the gym at 9 or 10pm, do work, go to bed, and be at work by 9am the next work feeling refreshed and ready to be productive.
I decided that I wanted to make the most of my day and getting up early seemed like the best place to start. It took me about a month to get used to, but now I love it. By the time most of my office gets in at 9:30am, I have had 1.5 hours to exercise (which may be a run, swim practice, or gym session depending on the day), check and respond to emails, organize myself, and dig into a project or two.
Honestly, feeling accomplished by 9am energizes me for the rest of the day. It creates a momentum and focus that propels me forward. Now that I have encountered this feeling of productivity and exhilaration there is no going back. Here are my tips for getting yourself out of bed and maximizing your morning:
1) Don’t Hit Snooze
Those extra 5, 10, 20, or even 30 minutes are not going to be restful, so don’t tempt yourself. I know this is difficult but you are up to the challenge. Entrepreneurs laugh in the face of adversity and challenge. I mean you defied societal pressure and pursued your own life path, right? So try framing this as a challenge and prove to yourself that you can conquer the snooze button.
2) Turn on the Lights
In conjunction with not snoozing, turn on your bedroom lights as soon as your alarm goes off (you may want to put your alarm near the light switch so that you have to get up to turn it off).
3) Get the Blood Moving
While lying in bed under the covers is relaxing and cozy, you need to start moving to help your body wake up. I have a yoga mat under my bed so that I can stretch at night. When I started getting up early to workout, I decided to do some crunches or pushups in my room before going for a run. I noticed that if I literally rolled out of bed and did a few crunches, my sleepiness was subdued and I was ready to seize the morning.
4) Enlist a Buddy
Two months ago I signed up for a Master’s Swimming program. I swam competitively in high school and recreationally in college, but stopped once I graduated because it did not fit into my work schedule. Once I moved and found out that there was a pool nearby, I knew I wanted to pick up the sport again. Luckily, I found a friend who said he would sign up as well. Practices are at 6am so I need to wake up at 5:15AM to get there on time. This is earlier than normal for me and was painful for the first few practices. But having a buddy keeps me accountable. I have to make the decision whether or not to go the night before and don’t want to let him or me down at 5:15am by hitting the snooze button.
5) Reward Yourself
Getting up early is hard! Treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee and healthy breakfast. When I’m working out, it’s motivating to know that I have a delicious berry smoothie or peanut butter and banana sandwich waiting for me. Fueling your mind and body helps to keep you satisfied, focused, and at the top of your game.
6) Start Gradually
I did not set my alarm for 5:15am the first morning I decided to get up early. Instead, I set it for 6:45am and took a week to acclimate myself. Then I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier the next week, and ten minutes earlier the week after that. 10 minutes did not seem like a lot at the time, but after a month I was getting up consistently by 6am. Baby steps are the key to changing your behavior and sticking to it.
7) Play mind games with yourself
I was an English and Psychology major in college so I think the mind is a pretty powerful place. Use this power to your advantage by encouraging positive thinking. As soon as your alarm goes off, think about yourself in 2 hours: do you want to say you used that time to sleep or be productive? Think about how you feel when you’ve accomplished a task or had a really good workout.
Waking up early was not easy in the beginning, and I still have mornings where I wonder where the last 5-7 hours went. But, after a month of getting up early, I found that I was more productive when I got up at 6am and worked out than when I slept for an extra hour. In addition, I felt strong and fit, which helps me make healthy choices throughout the day. I’ve found that getting up early is a win-win for my work and my health.
How do you motivate yourself to get up early?
Cara Murphy is Editor here at Under30CEO. She is also Associate Marketing Manager at the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance and Managing Editor at Lifestyle and Charity Magazine. She can’t live without coffee, crossword puzzles, travel, and multi-tasking. Follow her @cmurphs12 for inspirational quotes and musings.
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