How to win at mornings!

People are often surprised when they hear that I wake up at 5:30am most mornings, and wonder how I do it. So I thought I’d quickly write up my morning routine.

The night or evening before

Of course, I would struggle to get up early if my evening routine is off. So actually the planning starts the night before.

  • Wind down early. I generally start going to bed at 9.30pm. So that I’m actually IN bed by 10pm. This means everything needs to happen earlier: eating, tidying, switching off social media. And yes, of course there’s an opportunity cost: I don’t get to watch much telly (I’ve not watched a single episode of Games of Thrones, for example) and I don’t get to scroll hours of social media. Which is probably a good thing.
  • Decide what you’re going to do with your morning. For me this will either be work or training. If it’s training, I’ll make sure that I know what’s on the training plan, my kit is all laid out and I know where any gadgets / equipment I need is. So it’s literally up and go. No internal debates going on in my head.

    If it’s a working morning, I’ll have decided what, specifically, I need to do for the available time. Often I leave the urgent and important tasks for the morning. Like writing programmes or client check ins. Things that just need to get done and completed that morning.

I know some people like to dedicate the early morning slot for creative work like writing blogs. But that doesn’t work for me as I find myself aimlessly surfing the net or social media rather than completing tasks. (Airplanes, trains and coffee shops are my go-to places for blog writing. I’m on a train as I write this).

  • Go to bed. Go directly to bed. Ignore the washing, the mess in the kitchen and don’t get sucked in to watching crap telly. Just go to bed. (Note, on my early nights, I often sleep in the spare room so that I’m not disturbed by partner who DOES spend hours scrolling social media and watching Game of Thrones…)

In the morning

First of all set an alarm. These days you can download an app (I use Bedtime) that monitors your sleep cycles and aims to wake you up at the ‘right; moment (within say a 20min timeframe). The idea is that it will wake you when you’re on an upward cycle rather than in deep sleep. Try to find a ring tone that is dulcet. Rather than a harsh buzzer sound.
Once the alarm has rung, it’s the hardest bit of all. You have to get up. Sounds simple, but I know it’s actually pretty hard for many. The thing to remember is that this is a practised skill. Don’t expect it to come easy on day one. Like many habits, if you persist with it, it because much easier. Here’s some easy tips for once the alarm is off:

  • Don’t argue with your head. Don’t bargain. Don’t negotiate. Switch any conversation off. And just move.
  • You need to focus on moving. Sit up. Swing one leg over. Get out of bed.
  • Remember getting OUT of bed is the hardest bit. But it actually is hard for just 1-2 seconds.. That’s it. Once you’re up and out of bed, that’s it. You’ve got the opportunity to conquer the morning and you get to feel smug and accomplished for the rest of the day.

A final word

If you normally arise at 7:30 with the kids, don’t suddenly set your alarm for 5am and expect yourself to get up and go because it probably won’t happen. Start with a gradual approach, setting your alarm for, say 20 minutes earlier than normal. And make sure you have a task in mind to complete e.g. Pay the bills, organise the hats and scarves drawer, put the laundry away or write a letter. Anything that you KNOW needs 20 minutes to complete. So get up. Get it done. Win the morning….

Once 20 minutes is a formed habit, try 40 minutes earlier and so on…

And there you go.
Mornings conquered.
Smugness rating 10/10…

If you’re gonna try it, let me know how you get on!

(PS this is an approach I preach in most things. That is, when there is a gap between where you are and where you want to get do, don’t try to go straight to the desired end point. Rather start with interim goals and build strong resilient habits around these first. For example, if you currently do no exercise but would like to exercise 4-5 times a week, you should first start with exercising consistently once or twice a week. Then build to 2 or 3 and then finally progress to 4 or 5. You’re much likely to succeed in this way….)