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Teach Yourself to Be an Early Bird

Topics: Work Culture

Society simply hasn’t shaken its bad habit of early mornings. Despite the groggy dispositions, endless eye boogers, and general “lack of sleep,” we cannot get away from getting up early. It’s a fact-pill that we have to swallow—the worst of our essential vitamins. But maybe after all of these years, you’ve convinced yourself to conform. Maybe you’re over the feeling of your alarm hitting you like a freight train. If that’s you, then there’s good news: we’ve got a guide to get you there.

early bird

(Photo Credit: Pexels)

We could debate all the day the merits of getting a “full night’s sleep,” but that’s not really what this is about. An app called Sleep Cycle, which can track the sleeping habits of its users, published a study of nearly one million of the people using it. It found that, all over the world, people are getting six to eight hours of sleep — and it’s often low quality.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Make the decision now, understanding that the most productive people wake up early, and do whatever you need to do to get in the habit. And while we’re at it, here are some ways to figure that out.

Have a Goal

Philosophically speaking, it has to start with a goal.

“Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc.,” says Kyle Pott of Lifehack.

If you’ve just vaguely decided, “Hey, I really need to be getting up earlier,” you’re probably not going to set yourself up for success.

Instead, chart out a few reasons why getting up earlier is going to be helpful for you. Maybe you’ll be able to get to the gym, maybe it will give you time to read through a book or get some extra work done in an online course. It doesn’t need to be the most noble reasons, but it does need to be one that makes some logical sense when the alarm starts beeping.

Be Practical (and Consistent)

When I first wrote about the merits of becoming a morning person, I wrote that it’s mostly a matter of discipline. You need to be able to set your mind to the task and carry it out. But discipline is also about being realistic with yourself so that you can be practical and consistent.

In an interview with Tech Insider, NextDesk director Dan Lee, who wakes up at 3:30 a.m. every day, said that being an early bird is really just about being practical.

“If you can’t fall asleep within five minutes or so it’s probably too early,” he says. In fact, he put it in even simpler terms: “My personal belief is that you should turn in when you’re tired.”

Your body will adjust over time. Go to bed when you’re tired, and keep forcing yourself out of bed when the alarm goes off. It will get easier eventually.

Take Your Time

For most of us, becoming an early bird is an ideal, not an overnight need. So why rush it? Tomorrow morning, you’re probably not going to wake up at 5:15 with a big smile on your face and a cartoon songbird on the windowsill. But you’re still on the path towards something similar. Writing about this for Entrepreneur, Lisa Evans highlights some sage advice from professional time-manager Laura Vanderkam:

“Build the habit slowly … you will likely hit the snooze button and sleep in if you try to switch your habits drastically. So instead … set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier each day.”

Ease into it. There’s no sense in trying to set the bar too high and becoming disappointed. The truth is: research is a great first step. So congratulations, you’re already on your way to earlier mornings.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your early-bird secret? Do you lie awake in the morning because the anxieties of life and age keep you from proper rest? How much sleep can you run on every week? Tell us your story in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter!

Peter Swanson
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