Those 6am Duracell gym bunnies and people who talk about getting up and meditating before the sun comes up really got on my tits.
So, about a year ago (when I was still in full time employment) I decided to secretly put these idiots’ theories to the test. Mainly so I could do my usual “yeah, well I’m different and it will never work for me” routine, and continue with my bullshit method of ‘hustling’ late at night because you have to be totally exhausted to earn your success, right?! In our community, we refer to this a ‘brule’ by the way – defined further in this post.
Fast forward a year – I now choose to get up early using an alarm clock – even though I now have the luxury of not having to. I’m a total convert to rising early for my productivity to be at its best. Even with the same number of hours sleep, my energy is nowhere near as good if the majority of those hours after midnight. I have ‘split-tested’ this in true marketing style…
In this post, I thought I’d share what’s worked for me in vastly improving my relationship with a.m hours – even before I was able to fire my alarm clock – as a boiled down version of the things I’ve learned from various books, mentors and tips I’ve picked up along the way.
If you’re currently trying to build a venture of your own around a job with the idea of getting out of it and going full time, you NEED to get your head around mastering the morning. I’ve reluctantly learned that it really does set the tone for each and every 24hours of your life – including the quality of your sleep!
If you disagree, think of a day you’ve ever genuinely overslept (your phone didn’t charge, alarm didn’t work – v annoying) and as a result, you missed something important for work or were inexcusably late. Whether you made up an elaborate lie or were totally honest about it, did that anxiety stay with you all day?! Or when you stub your toe as you get out of bed… Did you then drop your toast butter side down, miss your train or get stuck in traffic, and generally have a crap day where it felt like the entire universe was conspiring against you? Yep, been there.
I had always been much more of a ‘night owl’ for creative juices flowing – working best under pressure. Always finished my school homework assignments at 3am the morning it was due to be handed in. In my early working life, I’d always stay late at work because I got ‘on a roll’ at 4pm.
Even up until I left my last job, I’d go to bed quite late, set an alarm for an hour before I needed to get up, hit snooze a couple of times and leave myself 10minutes to get ready – usually leaving the house with wet hair and half a face of make up which I’d try finish in the loo at some point once I got to the office. Hardly relaxing.
The idea of getting up even earlier to find the time to commit to some extra tasks in my business made me twitch.
But I started to realise that burning the midnight oil really wasn’t sustainable and one night, I hit the wall at 9pm in front of my laptop. My eyes felt like someone had been rubbing them with sandpaper (I had also been crying in impatient desperation that something on my website just wasn’t ‘doing’ what I wanted it to) and I wasn’t getting anywhere trying to draft a blog. I figured it made sense to go to bed and get up early – and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy!
That’s when I started swotting up on morning rituals and routines and decided to give them a whirl. I haven’t looked back! Apart from when dealing with the occasional hangover perhaps…
Here’s what I’ve boiled it down to as a bare minimum to set up my wake-up routine – even on a busy day or when I need to be somewhere fairly early. ANYONE can do these – even if it’s a condensed 20minute version when you’re pushed for time.
1) Put your alarm clock physically out of reach AND…
and set it as loud as possible! Obvious.
2) Choose a effective ring tone that either…
- a) repulses you so much you will have to get out of bed FAST!
- b) motivates you – mine is currently Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys because taking my mum to New York this December is top of my bucket list!
3) Wake up your BRAIN!
It controls the rest of your body so the sooner you get this guy going, the less likely you are to unconsciously crawl back under the duvet. Try the Math Alarm app – you need to do some sums before you’re able to unlock your phone and turn it off!
These screenshots probably make me look crap at maths… I’m not – I chose ‘insane’ for a reason…!
An alternative to the above that I recently discovered is a brain training app called Lumosity. It won’t stop you unlocking your phone though so maybe get used to that first!
4) Wake up your FACE (and mouth!)
Go straight to the bathroom, splash cold water on your face and clean your teeth. If you’ve never Googled the amount of bacteria in your mouth that builds up when you sleep, do it now and you’ll soon want to make it a habit that this is one of the first things you do!
By now, you should be at least 50% conscious. You can also have a pee if you need it – I won’t suggest you hold that in.
5) Drink a large glass of water.
Hydrating your body as soon as you get up has so many benefits – plenty of other articles will tell you why but suffice to say detoxing, kickstarting your metabolism and mental alertness are 3 of the top reasons that should concern you here.
6) Get PHYSICAL!
Ok, so the Duracell gym bunnies may have been on to something here. But we’re not training for a marathon, we’re just waking up as effectively as possible. 30seconds of running with your knees up high or some jumping jacks will be more than enough to get you to realise you are now fully awake – you may even have a smile on your face once those endorphins get moving!
7) Brain dump.
No devices here (and as an aside – don’t be checking ANYTHING on any device until you complete these 7 steps), grab a pen and paper. But this is the one that has definitely had the biggest impact on my daily mindset and ability to control it.
If you’re a coffee fan, grab one to enjoy while you’re doing this bit – it’s a very civilised experience. Give yourself between 10 and 20minutes for this – the gentle pressure of a time limit means you can’t make excuses later on that you no longer have time for this and it should become habitual fairly easily.
The first thing I suggest you do is write yourself 3 headings:
- Wins / Challenges
Then quickly fill in 3bullet points under each of the above headings for your previous 24hours. You may have already learned, won or been challenged by something new each morning by the time you’ve completed steps 1-6! This is also a great exercise to do before you go to bed each night – especially if you’ve had a tough day as it forces you to focus on more of the good stuff that you may easily be neglecting to acknowledge yourself for.
Beyond these 7 things, meditation, visualisation of your goals, a proper work out, motivational listening (podcasts are great – multi-task and listen to them while you exercise) and some relevant reading are all amazing additions to any morning routine. But I found it can easily mean an extra hour or more to fit all of this in properly. Which could be tough if you’re still in a full time job.
There are tons of books and methods for mastering your morning routine – my #1 recommendation being The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – you can get 2 free chapters HERE. If you’re not a big reader, at the very least get the audio version on Audible or similar.
I just wanted to share a basic process for simply getting as far as waking up and not feeling terrible that you now have to get to work! If you can fit any of these in as a progressive addition to your routine, do so – you’ll feel great.
I really do believe anyone can change their habits and come around to this because it’s scientifically proven that it’s healthier for us to do so. Hopefully, this checklist can help you take some baby steps to making these changes! One step at a time – aim for progress, not perfection.
Oh and here’s an idea for your wake up ring tone – god bless Olivia Newton-John and 80s fitness fashion…
Over and out 🙂