I’m not a morning person, yet I live in a world where you’re forced to adhere to the laws of the early birds. After countless hours wasted on a love hate relationship with my snooze button, I felt the urge to make a change. During a relaxed holiday in Lisbon, I designed a morning routine suited for my daily (non-holiday) life. Much to my own surprise, it stuck.
These days, I’m wide awake at 7am. By 8:30, I’ve exercised, replied to every single important email and ate a savory breakfast. In this post I’ll tell you how I succeeded. If you have trouble getting up early, keep on reading.
During the last couple of years I made numerous attempts at punctual schemes for a morning routine, yet none of them remained. I would still be late for work and rush to appointments with sleepy eyes. Yet the Lisbon-one was different. Here’s why:
- I listed all the things I wanted to do tick off each morning. (Showering, shaving, anti-RSI exercises, reading the newspaper while having breakfast and run through my day planning).
- I then estimated how much time these activities actually take. I eat breakfast in thirty minutes, need twenty minutes in the bathroom, and. I made generous estimations, to avoid any disappointments.
- I turned the list into a timetable. So I planned on waking up at 7:15, spending time in the bathroom until 7:35, chewing some breakfast till 8:05, exercising for another ten minutes to 8:15 and emailing through to 08:40. As you might notice, these times differ from the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph. I decided on an easy start and increasing the difficulty of the schedule if it proved endurable.
- Now I set my daily alarm for 7:15, and switch off the snooze option. I even picked a rather upbeat and extravagant ringtone: the Bolero by Ravel. This piece of music has actually put me to tears one night played by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and now I risk disliking it for the rest of my life. Oh well.
- Next step: print a Don’t-break-the-chain calendar. This method was shot to fame by Jerry Seinfeld. If you successfully complete the daily task you set for yourself, you put a cross of that day on the calendar. After that first cross, it’s just a matter of not breaking the chain. You can use this method for any daily activity, such as blogging or exercising. By the way, I purposely left out the weekend days. Those are for never-ending sleeping sessions.
After creating the master-morning-routine, it was just a matter of opening my eyes at 7:15 and dragging myself to the shower. And you know what? It’s actually rather easy. Years of frustration have accumulated so much willpower within me, that the shutting up of the Bolero and kick-starting the day turned out to be a piece of cake. Most of the time. And when it wasn’t, such as after a night in the cafe, the don’t-break-the-chain method was there to pull me through.
So, before I knew, I planned coffee dates at 08:45 and actually enjoyed being able to get up early. Gone were the feelings of guilt. And after a month, I ambitiously set my alarm to 7am and added fifteen minutes of extra exercises. Fortunately, this change stuck too.
Although I have now publicly admitted I’ve turned into an early bird, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a night owl, too. So yeah, there are nights I make do with five hours of sleep or less. But the security of a morning routine compensates those occasional sensations due to sleep deprivation. By tackling the get-out of-bed-battle, I regained tons of new energy.
If this sounds like an attractive scenario to you, please give it a whirl and let me know
how a morning routine works for you.