By Courtney LeVesque
I feel like I should preface this entire article with, “I’ve only been doing it for six weeks, what do I know?” but in all honesty, I’m the last person I would have ever thought would become that mind-boggling “thing” – a morning person. Seriously, guys, I’ve hated the rise of the sun my entire life. I love to sleep, want to sleep, and the interruption of that sacred thing in the morning really throws off my day. Do you feel me?
So why am I behind my computer on one of the last beautiful days of the year to tell you all about becoming a morning person? Because it’s life-changing, and I bet you’d like to maximize all the things you can get done in a day. Am I right?
I guarantee that sometime in the very recent past, you’ve thought to yourself, “I wish I had more time in a day.” Well, lovely, there is. It’s all about finding the time and making a plan to use it – something I avoided until the last few months.
Building and running a business, finding quality time for my family, juggling a substantial to-do list, while working 50+ hours a week, and trying to balance it all, let’s just say I was drowning. I had to make a plan. Not only to survive but to create the best for my life, goals, and family.
Because I routinely woke up behind the curve and battling the groggy haze I was always in, I didn’t consider starting a morning routine as one of the options to correct the problem. Instead, I tried just about everything else to manage the daily tasks, and feel good getting the rest of it done as well. Stay up late, work weekends, sacrifice my personal time, said no to things I wanted to say yes to, and even started putting in 13 or 14 hour days to feel that scarce feeling of accomplishment.
What I realized at the end of it all was that I was exhausted, eating for comfort, ditching workouts, and gravely missing the cup filling downtime with my kids. Fortunately for me, there was a moment a few weeks ago that turned the lightbulb on for me. “I have to form a new morning routine.” No more days started as the last one to get out of bed. No more starting behind the curve and hoping to catch my tail at some point during the week. I had to get as intentional with my time as I did in the other areas of my life.
It seemed a little more clear at that moment. I’d spent the last 15 years coaching clients, helping them establish new routines, meet and exceed goals, and create the lives they wanted, and there was always one BIG factor needed for that success to happen — a PLAN.
I couldn’t leave “being a morning person” to how I felt in general about the start of the day. I couldn’t wake up and decided at that moment whether I wanted to get up or stay in my comfy bed to soak up the last little bit of relaxation. I just had to do it. “Stop Negotiating.” Words I often speak into my clients, became pivotally truthful for me.
Like with all other changes I’ve opted to make in life, I knew it would take some thought, and pre-planning to jump off the deep end move that alarm earlier. If I wanted to make this change and break the lifelong cycle, I would have to be diligent in building new habits.
Here’s how I turned myself into an early morning riser, and I believe you can too.
Make a plan. I started by writing down my evening routine. Sacrificing adequate sleep wasn’t an option, so to get up an hour or two earlier, I’d need to get to bed earlier to be sure I was getting enough restorative sleep.
I knew immediately that a 5 am wake up call five or more days a week would be a significant change for me, so instead of moving too early mornings every day, I started with three days per week to ease into the adjustment. Doing this allowed me the mental reassurance that I didn’t have to get up early every day but also let my body to begin building the habit.
I also took the time to write out things I felt like I needed in the morning to make this new habit last – these are the main ones I came up with: coffee, music, warmth, light.
Before I go to bed at night, I make sure I have easy access to the things I need to be as “comfortable” as possible in the morning. I set the coffee to auto brew. My speaker is close by (more on that later), I have a small heater close to my “morning spot” I can blast as soon as I wake up, along with my sweater and slippers. I also have a lamp near my bed that I turn on when my alarm goes off. The light helps signal to my brain that it’s time to get up and get moving.
For you to make the shift and not fall back into your old ways, you have to make this a habit. One of the most important pieces when it comes to building healthy habits is not getting sucked into negotiating with yourself. Self negotiations are one of the biggest momentum killers there is. So remember, when that alarm goes off, it’s go time. I want to note there are some exceptions to this rule. If you’re a new momma with a fussy baby awake all night, if you’ve been sick, or if you have one of those nights you don’t sleep well, give yourself some grace and get the rest you need.
Many of us battle winding down at night to get to sleep at a decent hour, even if you feel tired when you go to bed. To get quality sleep adopt an evening routine that nurtures your best sleep habits. You can do this by taking an evening bath, stretching, meditating, reading, and limiting the blue light transferred from devices. If you insist on catching some Netflix time before you snooze, invest in some blue blocker glasses, easily and affordably found on Amazon.
A significant part of my bedtime routine involves flowing through some stretches, hot tea, and whatever my latest audiobook has to offer. I set my sleep timer, and most of the time, I’m out cold before that 15 minutes end.
I also rely on Unplug for those nights when my mind doesn’t want to let go of the day. For those of you who often toss and turn hostage to a mind that won’t seem to turn off, or for those who may be experiencing a particularly busy or stressful season of life, Unplug may be an excellent option for you. The fact that Unplug is non-habit forming and won’t interfere with my body’s ability to produce natural sleep hormone allows me to take it without worry, and nurture my most imperative process, sleep, and repair.
Two things that are game-changers for my morning groove are excellent coffee and good music. If you’re anything like me, you look forward to the steaming and boldly aromatic cup of joe in the morning. But, why not take it to a whole other level and make it good for you too? My coffee game is strong, and I think yours is about to be also. I use a combination of the Wild C8 MCT powder, a bit of the nutrient-rich Paleo(ish) Protein, and a helping of my homemade coconut creamer. After it’s whipped up, this homebrew is the perfect way to start the day. The balance of MCT’s and protein helps give you the extra kick of energy you need to start the day on the right foot. Take a look at my frothy concoction here.
If you’re a music person, find a station with some energy behind it and let it play in the background as you get ready for the day. If you’re not prepared to jam out so soon, try turning on a motivational or engaging podcast.
So what exactly needs to be done to solidify a new morning routine? Let’s recap for those who may be scrolling through:
- Plan it out.
- Set your morning up by having your “comforts” ready.
- Start with a few days a week and add to it as needed.
- Set the coffee to auto, or have it all ready to go in one place.
- Turn on the lights and tell your brain it’s time to get up.
- Establish a nighttime routine that helps you unwind and get to sleep earlier.
- Crank the tunes when you wake to get your energy going.
- Make it a habit.
- Don’t negotiate.
If you have the same success I had, you will likely start your day with more energy than before, improve your overall mood in the morning, and create some quality time for getting more accomplished in the day. All around, this is a HUGE win!
For those of you who want to take it one step further and maximize your productivity, start your week with a Weekly Goal Sheet and set up your days for success. Click on the highlighted link to see how you can squeeze more out of the week, and make progress toward your goals. This printable form will be your guide to daily productivity and reaching goals.