Are you the sort of person who bounces out of bed when the alarm goes off, excited to begin your day? Or maybe you’re a little more like me…hitting the snooze button, dashing around the house frantically trying to get everyone organised, running out the door, and needing a strong coffee before you can really get started with your day? Well at least that’s the way I used to be, but recently I’ve been working hard to become more of a morning person, and I’ve discovered some valuable lessons along the way.
Being a morning or an evening person is partly governed by your internal body clock, or our circadian rhythms, which creates fluctuations in behaviour and physiology during a 24-hour cycle.While there’s a genetic component to our circadian clock, behavioural changes can make a big difference. If you’re a night owl by nature, there’s much you can to do to become more of a morning person.
Here are five tips which I’ve found make a noticeable difference to how your day begins, which ultimately come down to making some small adjustments in your routine and mindset…
1. Plan your MITs, the night before
If you take one tip away from this article, this is my favourite, as it has truly made the biggest difference in helping me to become a more productive morning person. MITs, or most important tasks, are the jobs that you most want, or most need, to get done the following day. In theory, you should set three to four MITs, with the majority being focused on work, and one relating to a personal or lifestyle goal. Figuring them out the night before can seem a bit of a chore initially, but it’s a habit adopted by many successful business people. While it may mean spending an extra 30 minutes at your desk in the evening, sifting through documents, emails, and finding whatever you will need to complete your MITs the following day, it will mean you will wake up knowing your priorities, and be in a position to get going with them immediately.
2. Keep a worry diary beside your bed
Get into the habit of jotting down the things that are troubling you, including unresolved issues, creative blocks, workload concerns, deadlines etc, just before you go to bed. There’s much evidence to show that writing down thoughts has therapeutic benefits, and documenting work-related worries can free up your mind to think about other, less-stressful things. It also means that in the morning you will have a reference point of matters you may need to address, and most importantly, have a clear, uncluttered mind to begin the day.
3. Get up at the same time every day
I have a friend who catches the 6am commuter train to work every day, meaning that he’s up and out of the house before 5:30am Monday to Friday. When he initially told me that he keeps the same routine on the weekend, I thought he was mad. Surely by Saturday he’d be desperate for a lie-in?
But since exploring the science behind becoming a morning person, I’ve discovered the logic in his approach. Our body clock is driven by two key hormones, which help to regulate our wake-sleep cycle. Cortisol is like your internal alarm clock which shows up in the morning and gets you going, while melatonin makes its appearance at the end of the day, helping to induce sleep. If you sleep in an hour or two later on a weekend, this messes with your body clock, making it harder to rise at the start of the week particularly. But if you get up at the same time every day, even on a weekend, it ensures consistent cortisol and melatonin production.
4. Drink a cool glass of water
As simple as it sounds, hydration is often overlooked, yet it’s a crucial part of becoming a morning person. If you’ve been asleep for six to eight hours, that’s a long time your body’s been without water. You may not feel dehydrated, but drinking a cool glass of water as soon as you awake can help to kick-start your metabolism and give you the energy you need to begin your day. It’s important to remember that mental performance and physical coordination can start to become impaired before thirst kicks in, typically around 1% dehydration. While you may be craving caffeine, water is the fuel of the morning larks! Read this post for more information on dehydration.
5. Create a morning routine that you look forward to
Steve Jobs claimed he began every day in the same way…
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
We need to make sure we have a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. The truth is, if you’re organised the night before, it’s not too difficult to find an extra 15 minutes in the morning for something you love.
Whether it’s brewing your favourite coffee and having the time to relax and enjoy it; reading a good book or a newspaper, doing yoga, knitting, writing poetry, or going for a run…these are far better ways to begin your day, than running around like a headless chicken.
Margaret Thatcher, famous for surviving on four hours sleep, would wake at 5am every morning to listen to “Farming Today,” her favourite programme on BBC Radio.
Author P.G Wodehouse would head straight to the back porch for his “daily dozen” sequence of calisthenic exercises. He’d then come inside and make breakfast (always toast, coffee cake, and tea) and read a “breakfast book”, which was some sort of entertaining mystery or adventure novel.
Think about what you can add to your morning routine, to make you excited to jump out of bed when the alarm goes off!
Are you a morning person? If so, we’d love to hear about your favourite morning habits below…