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Friday, October 21, 2016

4 Things I did to Become a Morning Person

Ever look at someone who gets up at the butt crack of dawn to start being productive and think, “Man, fuck that person”? That used to be me. Now? Now people look at me and think, “Man, fuck that person.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still adore sleeping in when possible, but that’s more of a rarity these days.

I used to drag myself out of bed with just enough time to get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and shove the kids out of the house. That was back when I was still in school, but even when I didn’t have class in the mornings I would struggle with my productivity levels. The end of my days were packed with a sudden onslaught of everything I’d ignored that day.

This didn’t just start after kids, either. Back at 19, I lived a mere 5 minutes from the University of Memphis campus. I signed up for an 8 a.m. class, and then proceeded to show up only twice. It’s OK, I ended up dropping out anyway. (Stay in school, kids.)

Soon after finishing my degree, I was still working from home, and it made financial sense to take my kids out of daycare and the after-school program. My age-old trick of just sliding by in the evenings wasn’t cutting it anymore, and I knew what I had to do – wake up before my already early-rising kids. Which sounded just about as pleasant as receiving a hair cut from a T-Rex. It took some time, but here are the 4 steps I made to make it happen.

My mornings look less like this and more like a hungover zombie.

1. Went to bed early
Look, this one isn’t groundbreaking, I get it. But I used to routinely stay awake until midnight or one in the morning, which generally contributed to my inability to do little else than hit the snooze button for half an hour. So did I just hit the hay with lights out at 9:30 and conk the eff out? Nope.

In order to make going to bed early actually work, I put off reading time until I went to bed. That way I had something to actually look forward to and could easily roll over and go to sleep as soon as I felt ready.

2. Made plans for the morning
The first morning that I rose before the sun and managed to make it downstairs was disorienting. I was up early, but what was I supposed to be doing? Maybe I would eat breakfast first, or get a bit of writing done, maybe take care of a few work assignments. Ultimately, I didn’t get anything done. I sat on the couch watching The Mindy Project while downing cups of coffee. Relaxing, but the complete opposite of productive.

My mornings have routine now. First I get up, wash my face, then enjoy a cup of coffee while I make my daily to-do list. It may not seem like much, but it’s the definitive starting point to my day.

3. Moved my phone
Look I am like queen of the snooze button. I don’t care what time it is or where I have to be, if it is within reach I will slap that little son of a bitch like there’s no tomorrow. Give or take 30 minutes of telling my phone to shut up, and my morning is off to a late start and I have to make my to-do list while my kids are awake and begging to play video games.

My phone now stays plugged up on my dresser, on the other side of the room from my bed. This forces me to actually get out of bed and stumble over there without my glasses to turn it off. By then I can’t fight the “I’ve gotta pee” feeling anymore, so screw it up I’m up.

4. Changed my outlook
This was probably the most difficult step in all of this. It took a tremendous amount of effort to change how I perceived my nighttime habits, which mostly consisted of re-watching TV shows and browsing through social media. Which, FYI, I’m in Mountain Time Zone (Arizona, no daylight savings FTW), so pretty much everyone east of me was already in bed and no longer posting.

These nightly habits were neither worthwhile nor were they healthy. Sure, taking a lazy night every now and then is great, but every night? Not so much. I had to make a conscious decision to look at early mornings as an opportunity to address the issues I was having, and to reconsider just how much I valued my nightly habits.

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Changing an aspect of yourself isn’t easy, and before you decide to change part of who you are, it’s probably a good idea to ask yourself why you’re making this change.

Have you ever made a conscious effort to change a bad habit? How did you do it?

4 comments:

  1. Well done! I never actively tried to break bad habits. But my chocolate habit has diminished over time. Also when I was doing A-levels (aged 17/18) I'd regularly go to bed at 8pm and wake at 8/9am - my sleep patterns have improved over time too :-)

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    1. Chocolate habit is one that I have trouble breaking! But sounds like you maybe needed that much sleep back then, school at that age is rarely a breeze. Glad you've been able to improve on both the sleeping and chocolate front, though. ;)

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  2. I started the same way but changed over time. I also find keeping the blinds open helps so I wake with the sun.

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    1. Good point about the blinds! Last time my husband deployed I kept the blinds open with a sheer curtain over the window, and it was really enjoyable to slowly wake up with the sunlight. Not an option when he's home though, sadly. He needs it to be super dark until the moment he's ready to wake up. Glad you get to enjoy the morning light!

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