"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Or so the saying goes. I have no trouble with the first part; it's that early to rise line that always gets the better of me. I've never been one to get up with the first buzz of my alarm clock. In college I was one of those sad sacks who crawled into her 8am class wearing pajamas and carrying a huge travel mug of coffee. (What was the historical significance of Queen Elizabeth's poetry? I may never know.) But I am now even more convinced that getting up early is a habit worth forming, and what's more, here's how I can finally train myself to do it:
Leo from Zen Habits shares how he switched from being a night owl to a morning person, and he claims the change has been so beneficial that he'll never go back. His ten listed benefits for rising early are very compelling. But while that might sound all well and good, the problem for many of us is... how do we train ourselves to do it? This is where his continuing advice really comes in handy. It's worth sharing his thoughts in full here:
- Don't make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.
- Allow yourself to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, perhaps watching TV or surfing the Internet. But if you continue this habit, while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start over. I suggest going to bed earlier, even if you don't think you'll sleep, and read while in bed. If you're really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
- Put your alarm clock far from your bed. If it's right next to your bed, you'll shut it off or hit snooze. Never hit snooze. If it's far from your bed, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you're up. Now you just have to stay up.
- Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don't allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed. Just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to stumble into the bathroom and go pee. By the time I've done that, and flushed the toilet and washed my hands and looked at my ugly mug in the mirror, I'm awake enough to face the day.
- Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you'll never do it. Don't make getting back in bed an option.
- Have a good reason. Set something to do early in the morning that's important. This reason will motivate you to get up. I like to write in the morning, so that's my reason. Also, when I'm done with that, I like to read all of your comments!
- Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you're forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. A good reward is to make a hot cup of coffee or tea and read a book. Other rewards might be a tasty treat for breakfast (smoothies! yum!) or watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that's pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
- Take advantage of all that extra time. Don't wake up an hour or two early just to read your blogs, unless that's a major goal of yours. Don't wake up early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day! I like to use that time to get a head start on preparing my kids' lunches, on planning for the rest of the day (when I set my MITs), on exercising or meditating, and on reading. By the time 6:30 rolls around, I've done more than many people do the entire day.
What about you? Are you an early riser? Do you want to be one? How has getting up the sun changed you?