Rolling into law school at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning is something that, to most people, sounds like a nightmare. To me, it's just part of my daily routine. A few months back I wrote a post on creating a study schedule for yourself and I mentioned that follow the 9-to-5 study schedule, where I treat school like a job. This means getting to school by 9:00 a.m. every day, regardless of when I have class that, and leaving around 5:00 p.m. when I'm done with my reading for the day. For me, this has proven to be an effective way to discipline myself and make sure that I always have my work done. However, for those of you who are thankful for classes that don't start until noon and think that arriving to school at the crack of dawn sounds like the worst form of torture, this doesn't seem effective. Others of you may want to be able to have this type of routine, but struggle with the idea of mornings in general. Well, this post is for you. I'm going to teach you how to transition from being someone who sleeps in as often as possible to the person that rises with the sun each day.
Go To Bed Early
The first step of being a morning person starts with adjusting your sleep schedule. If you have trouble getting up early in the morning, I'm willing to bet it's because you go to bed too late and aren't getting enough sleep. Yes, it's easy to stay up until 1:00 a.m. messing around on the internet or working on homework, but when you're an early riser, you really regret those late nights when your alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. So set a "bedtime" for yourself, just like you're five years old again. I personally like to go to bed around 9:30 p.m. and usually end up falling asleep around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. after I watch a little bit of TV or scroll through my phone.
Now, I realize a lot of you will have the response "But I can't fall asleep that early!" Well, duh. If you're used to staying up until the wee hours of the morning, it's going to be hard going to sleep earlier. But commit to it anyway. At least lay in bed and watch TV, listen to music, or even read earlier. It takes time, but your sleep schedule will adjust. It might be hard at first, but soon you'll be leaving social engagements early to make it home for your bedtime because you'll be falling asleep in the middle of a conversation otherwise.
Make Your Mornings Easy on Yourself
Part of the struggle of waking up is knowing how hard it is to get yourself ready for the day. The first hour of being awake can be exhausting in itself. One way to dread waking up less is making the mornings easier on yourself, especially on days where you get yourself ready for school or work as soon as you wake up. Lay out your clothes the night before. Even on days where I wear yoga pants and a hoodie to school, you can bet I picked out my outfit the night before and laid it on my counter in my bathroom so I didn't even have to think about it. Little things like this can make all of the difference. Pack your lunch the night before. Set out your breakfast. Program your coffeemaker to have your caffeine boost ready when you wake up. Make sure everything you need for the day is laid out, or in your backpack ready to go. Know where your keys and wallet are so you can quickly grab them and head out the door. If you know you're going to have a stress-free morning, jumping out of bed will be so much easier.
Put Your Alarm Clock Across the Room
This is a little trick you can use, expecially when you're first transitioning to becoming a morning person. I don't need to do this anymore, but I did this for a solid month when I was trying to become an early riser. Whether you use your phone or a traditional alarm clock, put it in a place where you actually have to stand up and get out of bed to turn it off. This way you are forced to get out of bed when you actually planned on it, instead of hitting snooze a million times.
*** Bonus: if your phone is your alarm, this stops you from scrolling through Facebook or Twitter when you are supposed to be going to bed early.
Do Something You Enjoy Each Morning
Give yourself something to look forward to with waking up. One of the benefits of waking up early is that you have more time for yourself. If you can plan on doing something you enjoy first thing in the morning, it will make waking up a bit more exciting. Personally, I like to watch an episode of a TV show while I eat my breakfast and drink my coffee. This is just a relaxing way to start the day. Maybe you would like to make yourself a nice breakfast, or take a trip to your favorite coffee shop. Some people like exercising or yoga. One of my friends uses her early morning time to Skype with her friends and family back home. Whatever it is, give yourself a half-hour or so to yourself each morning, to make waking up feel like a treat rather than a hassle.
You might've guessed from the title of my blog that I enjoy coffee quite a bit. While I can wake up without it, a little caffeine jolt at the start of my day makes mornings a bit sweeter. Whether you like coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, or soda, a little artificial energy can make all the difference in the world when you are a new morning person. So invest in some good caffeine and give yourself a little help in some early morning energy.
Take Baby Steps, but Commit
Getting up early each morning might be difficult, and I don't recommend starting by setting your alarm at 5:00 each morning and expect to magically be able to do it. Start by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day, until you reach the desired time you would like. And then stick with it. Part of becoming a morning person is sheer determination. You actually have to get up when you say you will and commit to the plan. And yes, this includes weekends. Now, I'm not saying you can't sleep in at all on weekends - but sleeping in for me these days means getting up at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m., at the latest. I use my weekend mornings to run errands or clean, so I still feel like my early morning time is productive. Ultimately, the only way you can truly become a morning person is by committing to the goal.
Those are my tips on how to become an early morning person, and I hope at least one of you can use these tips to make yourself more productive and wake up with the sun. Obviously, this isn't for everyone. Some people are way more productive in the midnight hours. So do what works for you. But now I wake up with the sun each day and couldn't imagine life any other way.
Happy mornings, everyone!