It’s 4:27 a.m. and I’m sitting in front of my laptop working on a blog post — this blog post.
I am a firm believer in the saying “The early bird gets the worm.” I get up between 4 and 4:30 a.m. most days of the week. People often ask me how I manage to juggle blogging, freelancing, and running a business with working a full-time job, being a wife and trying to have a social life. And one of the secrets to my productivity is being an early riser.
You’ve probably read plenty of stories and studies about the habits of famous successful people. And in those stories and studies you probably learned that many of those people wake up early. But I don’t want to talk about them. I want to talk about you.
If you’re a mom, waking up an hour of so before you need to tend to your kids means you have time to do the things you feel you can’t do during the day. This is your time. And don’t you dare feel selfish for making time for yourself. Once you take care of yourself you’ll be even better equipped to take care of everyone else. Remember, you need to put your oxygen mask on first.
You need to wake up earlier. But chances are you already knew that. What you probably don’t know is how to motivate yourself to do so.
Author Andy Traub once said “If you’re excited about your life you’ll stop sleeping through it.” Traub wrote the book on getting up early — literally. He’s the author of The Early to Rise Experience: Learn to Rise Early in 30 Days. If you have trouble waking up early I highly recommend you read Traub’s book.
In his book, Traub says that some people don’t like to get up early simply because they don’t like their lives. So sad, but so true. And if this is your story I want to help you rewrite it. Realize that getting up early could be the key to changing your life. It could be the key to creating a life that you’re eager to wake up and greet every day.
Here are five things I believe you should do so that you can wake up earlier:
1) Go to bed early. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Javacia! How on earth can I do that?” Simple — do less stuff. Remember “No” is a complete sentence. Start cutting activities that don’t move you closer to your vision for your life. Start delegating tasks at work if you’re in a position of leadership. If you’re a wife and/or mom start getting help with household chores. Soon you’ll find it easier to get in bed earlier.
2) Turn off the tube. I’m not here to talk about TV being evil. I love ABC’s Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder just as much as the next girl, my Sundays aren’t complete without AMC’s The Walking Dead, and Tuesday nights are all about BET’s Being Mary Jane. But don’t let TV take over your day. Pick a few favorite shows and only watch those. Don’t sit in from of the TV with the remote mindlessly clicking through channels. And make a rule for yourself that when it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed. Instead of sitting in bed watching TV for an hour, go to sleep! If you’re not sleepy, read a book until you are, but avoid looking at a television or computer screen. That stimulation will simply make it harder for you to fall asleep.
3) Just do it! When your alarm clock rings, just get up! Don’t lie there and think about how tired you are or how cold it might be once you’re no longer under the covers. Just get up! Don’t give your mind or body time to talk you out of this. Try putting your alarm clock or phone on the other side of the room to force yourself to get out of bed and to cut back on the likelihood that you’ll hit the snooze button. Once you’re out of bed drink some water and do some stretches to help get the blood flowing. You may want to even pop in your earbuds and dance around to your favorite song.
4) Have a plan. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for how you will spend your morning me-time. This will help you make the most of it. Things you could do during this time include: writing, reading, praying, exercising, listening to sermons or podcasts. Also, plan for the unexpected. The purpose of getting up early is to have time without distractions and interruptions, but sometimes you’ll face them nonetheless. Sometimes your kids will wake up when you do. Sometimes there will be an emergency at work. Here’s a tip: think of the one thing you most want to do during your morning me-time, something that would only take 15 minutes, and be sure to do that first.
5) Create something and share it with the world. During your morning me-time work on creating something — whether it’s a DIY project, an important piece of writing, artwork, etc. — and then share whatever you create with others. The feeling of accomplishment that you’ll get from this will serve as great motivation on those mornings when you’re tempted to hit the snooze button. This is why I often use my mornings to write blog posts, draft copy for newsletters, or schedule social media posts.
Don’t feel that you have to wake up at 4 a.m. as I do. Getting up early for you could mean 5 or 6 a.m. The key is to just wake up earlier than you currently do.
This is going to sound crazy, but once you start getting up early it will be hard to stop. I’m now hooked on being an early riser. Waking up at 4 a.m. may sound miserable to you, but typically, the earlier I wake the better my day turns out to be. Let me give you an example from earlier this year that I shared with students in my time management e-course.
I mentioned previously that in addition to blogging, writing and running See Jane Write I am a teacher. One day we were having what we in education call a “teacher work day.” On these days students don’t have classes, but teachers are supposed to spend the day at school working on lesson plans, etc. We actually just spend those days attending meetings — lots of meetings. But on this particular day I had a pretty long to-do list and all those meetings were most likely going to keep me from getting most of these tasks completed. When I sat down and planned out my day hour-by-hour — which I do when I have an especially long to-do list — it didn’t seem I would have time to write the letter of recommendation I needed to submit, draft lesson plans for the upcoming week, clean my classroom, etc., and attend all those meetings. But I would be able to get everything done if I did one simple thing — get up earlier. I woke up earlier than I had originally planned and I went to work an hour early. And that hour made all the difference.
Going to work an hour early meant I had 60 minutes to work without being interrupted by colleagues who wanted to chat. Before the first faculty meeting was called to order, several items on my to-do list were already done.
Once you see for yourself how productive you can be simply by waking up early, getting out bed in the morning will get easier and easier.