What do highly successful people like Cameron Diaz, Jeff Bezos and Oprah have in common? They all swear by the benefits of starting the day early. And they’re not the only ones. More people are finding that a good morning routine makes the rest of the day a whole lot better. Early risers tend to be more energized, make better decisions and achieve more during their waking hours. They also have more time to spend on the things they want to do for themselves, whether it’s seeing friends, training for a marathon or playing casino games.
You too can be an early riser if you put your mind to it. After all, you’re in control of your destiny! Read on for our tips on how to get with the program – and stick to it.
1. Be prepared
Rising in the morning is a decision that people often struggle with. When you’re groggily moving from sleep to waking, it’s tempting to postpone the decision to get up as late as you possibly can. Then you find you’re rushing to get a million things done all at once. You’re flustered and unprepared, and your day’s off to a bad start before you’ve even stepped outside.
Avoid this situation with one simple change: Make the decision to rise the night before. If you’ve already decided what time you’re going to get up, all you have to do is go to bed a bit earlier, and stick with your decision – don’t talk yourself out of it. Making this commitment to yourself is the most important step to becoming an early riser.
2. Choose the hour
What’s the best time to wake up? That depends on you and your schedule. Highly successful people tend to wake up as early as 6am, or even 5am. That might be a tough proposition to begin with, but you can get there. Start by choosing a time that fits in with your commitments but also gives you extra time… just for you. If you have to be at work by a certain hour, work backward and figure out when in the morning would give you enough time. What you include in your morning routine will dictate how long you need.
One big thing, though – and this may shock you: Switch off that alarm. As Oprah says, waking up like that “is alarming!” You become conscious, feeling immediately as if you’re under attack because your alarm triggers your stress hormones and adrenaline. So, rather than wake up in fight-or-flight mode, go to bed early. You need eight hours of sleep. Don’t stay up all night playing real online slots! Rather schedule your entertainment for earlier in the evening.
3. Hydrate yourself
The biggest mistake many people make when they start rising early is to reach for the coffee. The same goes for soda and other caffeinated beverages. Caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, even nausea, and increased heart rate and respiration. You’re only setting yourself up for failure if you start with the caffeine two or three hours earlier than usual.
It’s a much better idea to drink water when you rise and stay hydrated throughout the day. Water has the opposite effect to caffeine: It revitalizes and calms you. A glass of water first thing is the perfect way to start your day afresh. That’s not to say it’s critical to stop drinking coffee completely. But the more you get used to drinking water, the more you’ll appreciate its benefits. For example, the first time someone tells you that your skin is looking good, you’ll be able to thank your brand-new morning routine!
4. Move your body
If there’s any lingering trace of sleep in your head, you can chase it away with exercise. Don’t worry: It doesn’t have to be a full-on workout. You can jump rope, do push-ups, squats and crunches, or anything that gets the blood flowing. Maybe try a few minutes of yoga (there are lots of free videos online.) Whatever you choose to do, try to make it something you enjoy because it’s easier to stick with it.
After a while you can extend your exercise period for additional benefits. Aim to do something vigorous for at least 10 minutes every day. Dancing, jogging and walking around the neighborhood are all good to do (try choosing a different direction each time for a bit of variety.) Or if you’re quite flush, for an extra dose of motivation,you could even hire a personal trainer to visit early in the morning. Whatever your solution, you’ll soon find you’re thinking more clearly, are in better shape and possibly happier too. If Richard Branson can work out every morning, so can you.
5. Swallow the frog
This idea comes from Brian Tracy’s classic business book, Eat That Frog! The basic idea is to do the worst thing on your list first thing in the morning (after exercise.) This is the task you are most likely to put off and are most dreading. Maybe you hate doing the laundry? Do it right away. The rest of the day will be much easier because you’ll already have done the thing you couldn’t face. If you “eat a different frog” before breakfast every day, you’ll become more efficient as you eliminate the dishes, the cooking and other chores.
6. Be mindful
Now that you’ve got that frog out of the way, you can open your mind up to the rest of the day. Bring into focus what you’d like to achieve (set goals that aren’t ridiculous, of course!) and visualize yourself making it happen. Ask yourself why you’ve risen early today. If you don’t have a compelling reason, this is the time to find out why. Are you in touch with your values, goals and passions, or have they fallen by the wayside? You could borrow a technique from the late Steve Jobs. He famously said, “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
7. Check in with your partner and friends
If you have a partner, this is the perfect time to reconnect. Chat about your plans, finances and common interests. It doesn’t matter whether you talk about the stock market, family or your favorite casino table games. The important thing is to stay present in each other’s lives, and to “care” on a daily basis. You can even set up a weekly “breakfast date” if it’s a rarity to see much of each other. If you’re both committed to rising early, this is a great way to help you stick to it. But don’t forget to check in on your single friends, too! It’s healthy for your partnership for you both to stay in good contact with the other significant people in your life.
If you don’t live with a partner, you can always find what we’ll call an “accountability partner.” That would be a person you know well who you make an agreement with to hold each other accountable to waking and getting up pronto each day. Scheduling a breakfast meeting or video call with your accountability partner is an opportunity for you both to provide feedback on how things are going with the early-rising mission.
8. Prepare for tomorrow
The best time to plan for tomorrow is today. When you’ve finished work, be sure to unwind with a good book, an entertaining movie, a home-cooked meal or even a relaxing session of online slots (set yourself a budget.) Then, before you go to bed, list what you’d like to get done with the extra time you’ll carve out for yourself tomorrow. It can be on the back of an envelope, in your head or even in a document you save in the cloud – whatever fits the way you roll. Identify the “frog you’re going to eat” the next morning and itemize your remaining personal and work tasks in order of priority. That way you won’t have to spend any mental energy on decision-making tomorrow, and you’ll get loads done! You’ll find yourself becoming more time-efficient and less stressed, which will make for a better work-life balance.
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