I used to be such a night owl, I was lucky if I got to sleep before 3am. When I lived with friends, it was great to have a couple of hours late at night to chill out or get on with whatever it was I had (or wanted) to do. But those were my university days, and one of the biggest challenges when I was catapulted into the world of work was having to revert back to that 9 to 5 routine – which I hadn’t experienced since high school.
But my job isn’t strictly 9 to 5 – I actually work 7 to 3. And although I work from home now, for the last couple of months I had to travel to the office, which meant I’d leave the house at 6am, and be up at 5:30. As much as I dreaded my new routine, and for the first couple of weeks was, frankly, exhausted by it, I grew to love those early morning starts – to the point where, even on the weekend, the latest I sleep in now is usually 7:30.
Alright, maybe I’m a bit weird like that, but there’s something so nice about being up and out before everyone else. Living in London especially, I used to love being able to find a seat on the tube, walk down the street without bumping into people, and to just watch the city slowly come to life around me. It also made me realise just how much noise there is throughout the day. But first thing in the morning, you can hear the birds and the wind and the trees – its bliss!
When I was learning to adjust to being up and out at what my boyfriend calls the “unholy hours” – yesterday he got up at 11:45, so you see the difference – I did have to train myself wake up fast. So here are some of the tips and tricks I picked up to transition my body clock and learn to love early mornings.
Switch off snooze
I used to be the worst for hitting the snooze button a few too many times every morning – and every time meant 10 minutes of the day lost. And when you’re only drifting off for a few minutes at a time, just how productive is that? Now, I’ve turned off the function, so I either have to get up or run the risk of being late – which, for me, is the biggest nightmare.
By forcing yourself to wake up at the time you want to be up at, you’re getting the day off to the best possible start. If you’re struggling, think of it in terms of productivity – you’re not getting the extra sleep, so make the most of the time you have so that it was worth missing the lie in.
Up and at ’em
I don’t like to waste time in the mornings, and head straight to the shower to wake me up properly. If I lay in bed too long, I’ll fall back asleep, and if I sit down for a minute it’ll turn into an hour without fail. But after shaving, showering and getting myself prepped for the day, I’m totally in the mood to start working.
Once I’m ready, I like to take a couple of minutes to meditate on the day ahead. Mindfulness is so important, and when I know I’m going to be juggling my day job, freelance work and events, it’s important not to lose focus, and get myself in a state where I feel ready to tackle the day head on. So, this is the time I like to make a morning drink, check through what I have on for the day, and take a second to just breathe.
Our lives are so busy that it’s all too easy to forget about a meeting or deadline – and if you do it once, you’ll quickly end up with a backlog of work that just becomes overwhelming. However, we’re all so well connected that there’s really no excuse to get behind with things, and I like to sync all of my projects up to Google Calendar so I can see what I’m supposed to be doing from wherever I am.
My biggest tip for staying organised is to leave free time throughout the day. Whatever I’m doing, I always make sure I’m not overbooked. Firstly, I’m the worst for leaving on time, so I know I’ll probably overrun, and you never know when a last minute opportunity will pop up. But with proper planning, you’ll be able to smash your goals, and leave time for a last minute catch-up (or a well deserved rest, ideally!).
Make a playlist
If there’s one thing guaranteed to put me in the mood for the day, its music, and listening to a playlist of my favourite tunes first thing will always get me in the right headspace to ace whatever I’ve got planned. When I’m feeling sluggish especially, finding a beat and a rhythm to work to will always help get me in the zone, and increase my productivity (which, on most days, I’m thankful for).
I like to have a couple of playlists I switch between – some more upbeat, others a little more chilled – so that, depending on how I’m feeling, there’s always one I can turn to. I also like to play them on shuffle, so I don’t get into the same rhythm everyday, and I find switching things up helps keep me more alert and focussed – well, that and a strong coffee mid-morning.
Sleep is everything
The most important thing for anyone who wants to be up and active in the morning is to get a good night’s sleep. And I don’t just mean quantity – quality is key here. You can sleep for 12 hours and still feel less rested than if you get 6 good hours of sleep. So, my advice is to do everything you can to ensure you sleep well.
- Avoiding caffeine after midday
- Not eating too close to bed
- Switching off your phone/avoiding blue light
- Winding down for an hour or so before bed
- Creating a comfortable atmosphere to sleep (i.e. light, sounds, bedding, aromatherapy)
Once you set up a night time routine that’s realistic and effective, you’ll find waking up early a far more pleasant experience. Heck, you might even enjoy it!