Let’s face it, we would all like to be able to get up a little bit earlier in the morning…
Why? Oh, come on. As good as it sometimes feels to be warm and snuggly under that duvet you know that you would be much more productive, and in turn, much happier if you were getting up an hour (or two!) earlier every day feeling fresh and vibrant.
What could you get done with the extra two hours every day (an extra 14 hours per week?). You could go for a run, meditate, make yourself a beautiful and brilliant breakfast every day, learn to play an instrument or learn another language, practice yoga, take your dog for a walk, redesign your blog (that’s one for me), read a book, practice your hour of power, lift weights, do some painting, send emails to all of your friends and family (that you keep forgetting to do) or my favourite – practice laughing yoga (seriously, you HAVE to watch the dude in that link).
Whatever your reasons, of which there are gazillions, it makes perfect sense to give yourself more hours in the day. I mean, how many times have you moaned that there aren’t enough hours in the day, only to get up the next day with the minimum possible time before you have to get to work?!
The Secret to Getting Up Earlier
I have worked out my own means and methods, asked my most motivated, energetic friends, scoured the internet and read the papers, ebooks and reseach on sleep and circadian rhythms and this is the best of the best, most tried and tested tips, tricks and techniques for getting yourself up and at ’em two hours earlier than you currently do:
- Decide Your Time: just saying ‘I want to get up earlier’ once you are in bed and then setting your alarm for 6am just won’t cut the mustard. You need to think about this when you are up, motivated and thinking rationally. Think about it now – while you are really motivated. Now stick to it. Go set your alarm now. Having this clarity is the single most important tip in this list – as simple as it seems.
- Make it a Habit: set yourself a clear goal to do this every day for two weeks (or more if you are adventurous). On weekends, just set the promise that you will not set the alarm and will get up as soon as you wake up. If you can make a behaviour consistent then it becomes a self-sustaining habit. And habits are incredibly difficult to break. Even if you try.
- Get Leverage: why do you want to do this? What will it mean to you if you do this? What will you get done? How will it affect your life? Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers. Yes, actually get a pen and paper and write them down. Writing something has far, far more power than just thinking it. These are the emotional reasons why you will achieve this goal. Write as much as you can – things like: getting up earlier will give me the time to create my dream body, it will give me clarity and purpose; it will give me time to achieve my goals and love my life that I am creating; I will have time for myself to have a relaxed, enjoyable and fulfilling start to every day; I will have a hundred times more energy and will be buzzing with excitement from all of the goals I will achieve; it will give me quality time to spend with my kids/husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend etc because I will be able to get so much more done before everyone else starts the day; etc etc etc. Just think of how much better you life will be – and write down in as much detail as possible why.
You need to have the emotional, life-changing reasons rather than the physical hard facts is because of the ‘now what’ phenomenon. For example – you say, I am going to get up early so I can do lots of sit ups and get a six-pack. By having a reason such as this you are creating two hurdles to your motivation. Firstly, you are not going to get enough feedback signals that tell you that getting up early is really worth it. But more importantly, let’s say you DO build a six-pack washboard – now what? So, you’ve got a six-pack. But does this actually mean anything to you? Is it going to keep you on track and getting up early? Of course not – it is the emotion that is attached to creating your dream body that is the motivator – how does this make you feel & how will it change your life for the better?
So write this all down now, and then write it out every night before you go to sleep (or at least read it).
Sorry to be so wordy – but this one is really important.
- Set Your Goals: so the last point is all about the emotional aspect, but it still helps to know the reasons why you are going to get straight out of bed tomorrow. This is also an incredibly effective technique because it tells your brain the exact reasons why it HAS to get you up and out of bed without even thinking about it. It helps if you can list a couple of goals that have some urgency to them and list the reasons why you ABSOLUTELY MUST get them done. So just list some of your must-do items for tomorrow morning.
Now list all of the positive benefits of getting them done. And then – and this is a great trick – list all of the negative things that will happen if you don’t get them done. This will give you some serious leverage.
- Develop a ‘Warrior Mentality’: I love this approach. Create a war with your habit, and commit to winning. Commit to doing whatever it takes to win the battle. Give yourself a pep-talk, build momentum – and kick some ass.
- Reward Your Successes: this is essential. Giving yourself reward for reaching your achievement sends so much positive reinforcement than it almost guarantees that you will continue to grow and achieve. This is a great example (look on the right hand side bar for ‘Loss = Reward’).
- Learn From Your Mistakes: if you don’t get up at your desired time one day, don’t beat yourself up – learn from your mistake. What happened? What made you stay in bed? What kept you from getting up? If you are angry with yourself – now is the time to whip out that pen and paper again and brainstorm what you could do to make sure this doesn’t happen again! But don’t stay angry – use this energy to make you even more motivated and even more excited about how good it is going to be to succeed from now on! Just because you slipped up this time does not mean that you have undone all of your previous hard work. Just dust yourself off and learn from your mistake.
- Get Straight Up: As soon as that alarm sounds, get straight up. And I mean straight up. You can’t rely upn your conscious mind to come around, remember why you are getting up, mull over how warm you are and how cold it is outside of your duvet etc. Don’t give it a chance! Let your subconscious make the decision and GET STRAIGHT UP. Once you are up it really isn’t that bad. Over time your brain will make the association that this is just what you do – hear alarm, get up.
- Set 2 Alarms: this is a great ‘if all else fails’ plan to help you out in the beginning. If you really are going to find this a tough gig then just set 2 alarms. A pre-alarm that is right next to you and which goes off 15 minutes before your intended get-up-time, and another alarm that is on the other side of the room. If you can, and if your partner will not kill you for it – set this alarm to be an untuned radio and quite loud. Harsh, but effective.
- Take Regular Exercise: the one you were probably dreading, but it is one of the most important. Not only will exercise mean that you are physically ready for bed earlier (and therefore sleeping from an earlier hour -> waking up at an earlier hour) but it will also aid your digestion, improve your circulation and blood flow, will give you exposure to natural light (which releases the chemicals in our brain (melatonin) to correctly set our biological clock), and ensures a higher possibility of extended periods of ‘deep’ sleep (in which you are less likely to stir and have an interrupted sleep). However, it is important to finish your exercise at least 3 hours before you aim to sleep.
So there you have it! You now have absolutely no excuses not to start tomorrow!
If you have got any other ‘get-up-early’ tips then let me know! You could even prove it’s effectivness by letting me know in the comments at 6am!