For 15 years, Starbucks President Michelle Gaas has set her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to go running. Gretchen Ruben, popular author of The Happiness Project (Harper Perennial, 2011) wakes up at 6 a.m. and works for an hour before her family rises.
You are less likely to get distracted in the morning: An entrepreneur’s day fills up fast. If you wait until the afternoon or evening to do something meaningful for yourself such as exercising or reading, you’re likely to push it off the to-do list altogether.
You have more willpower early in the day: Even if you aren’t a morning person, you may have more willpower in the early hours than later in the day. “Willpower is like a muscle [that] becomes fatigued with over-use,” . During the course of the day as you’re dealing with difficult people, making decisions and battling traffic, you use up your willpower, leaving you feeling depleted toward the end of the day.
Mornings give you the opportunity to set a positive tone for the day. Waking up earlier allows you to start the day with a victory and set the tone for a happier and more productive day.
1. Keep a time journal:
One of the reasons people say they don’t like mornings is that they stay up too late. Keeping a time journal for a week will show where you may be using your time inefficiently. When many self-professed night owls look at their time journals, they often find they aren’t spending their evening hours productively or doing anything particularly enjoyable.
2. Imagine your perfect morning:
Imagine what you would do if you had an extra hour in the day. Would you exercise? Read the newspaper rather than simply skimming the headlines? “[Getting up earlier] isn’t about punishing yourself. You will not get out of bed if you don’t have a good reason to do it,”
3. Plan your morning:
Once you have decided what you want to do with your extra time, plan how to execute it, and set as much up as possible the night before. For example, if you want to exercise in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before, or gather the ingredients for your breakfast.
4. Build the habit slowly:
You will likely hit the snooze button and sleep in if you try to switch your habits drastically. So instead of setting your alarm for 5 a.m. when you normally get up at 7:30 a.m. set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier each day. To make sure you don’t lose sleep, go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. If you have trouble hitting the sack on time, set a bedtime alarm.