7 Steps to Become an Early Riser

7 Steps to Become an Early Riser

For a long time now (like my whole adult life), I’ve wanted to be one of those people that breezed into work, right on time, with my made-at-home coffee in one hand and my to-do list in the other, looking professional in wrinkle-free clothes and smelling quite nice because I took my routine morning shower. This has been the vision and my goal. My own Mount Everest Long’s Peak.

But for years and years, this just hasn’t been the case. Instead, I was rolling in around 9 (if lucky), wearing something I spent ten minutes looking for in the “clean clothes pile” on my floor, with my pricey Starbucks coffee and pastry, yawning from going to bed just past midnight, and dreading the chaotic inbox that awaited and would surely to ruin my day.

In my mind I could see how it could be. I could see myself as this ideal person. I could also see that if I fixed my mornings and my nights, I might be able to accomplish some of my other goals. It might be as simple as making my bed in the morning, or putting my clothes away at night that could create the type of change that would help me get my finances in order, finish the latest novel I’ve been working on, keep a clean house, or get in shape. It’s all connected, and it’s all about getting enough sleep at night and getting the right start in the morning to make it so.

The people I know who are the most productive, organized, and seemingly stress free about the little things in life are the ones that get up early in the morning. They all have this trait in common. So that’s where I decided to start.

Now – it should be noted that I’ve had this deep desire to make a change like this for a long time. I made attempts here and there and I was interested in the subject, but I couldn’t make it stick. Then one night, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline and I saw a tweet about waking early by a self-improvement guru I’ve come to respect over the years. I followed his link to learn about a book that some dude wrote on the subject. I made the stupid, yet secretly brilliant, decision to purchase this book.

At first, it was a stupid decision because the book was so bad. His big secret to waking up early – go to bed early. Shocking right? The rest of the book was an attempt to inspire the reader to be a better person. The intention was good, but it mostly annoyed me because we don’t all have stay-at-home spouses who take care of everything so we can use our extra time to do whatever we please. So the book inspired me to make my own plan that would work for me. And this is what I came up with.

1. Clean up your bedroom

If you keep a tidy bedroom with your clothes in your closet, instead of on your floor, congratulations. You are already past step one. If you do not, take some time to get it all put away. This was the first step to my success, because it made the routine way easier to follow and saves me so much time now that I can easily put my clothes away at night and lay out my clothes for the next day. I had no idea how much stress that put upon me and honestly prevented me from wanting to get up and deal with it every morning.

2. Leverage the weekend

Time can be sparse, especially if you have kids, or work, or work and have kids, or work and have kids a few nights a week and on the weekend. The latter is me. However, I’ve been trying harder to use some of that time to get prepared for the week ahead. I’ve been cooking in big batches to freeze or refrigerate for the week. I make sure I get some grocery shopping done so that I will have easy breakfasts to have at home and quick lunches to pack for work. If you know what you’re doing for food, the day isn’t as overwhelming and you’re more likely to get your butt out of bed.

Tip! I make a gallon jug of iced coffee that I can enjoy all week. This recipe is so simple, it saves a ton of money, it makes my morning coffee routine crazy simple, and it’s so delicious. I simply cold brew a gallon of water and half a pound of ground coffee in a big bowl for 8 hours on Sunday. Then I run it through a fine mesh strainer and a paper towel right into the jug. Boom. I’m set for the week.

3. Ten minutes at night will save you twenty minutes in the morning

If you’re a bit slower in the morning, raise your hand. I raised both. The nighttime me thinks that the morning me is awesome and completely capable of handling everything. You can do it morning Rochelle. I’m just gonna lay here and play Candy Crush until I pass out. The morning me hates the nighttime me. A lot. She begs for her nighttime counterpart to make life easier.

I used to make fun of my father for being so whacked out about his nighttime routine. Every night before bed he does the exact same thing. He gets his clothes ready for the next day (sometimes even ironing them – crazy!), the coffee pot ready, puts the skillet for his eggs on stove, puts a plate next to it on the counter, puts a vitamin and water glass next to that. He takes his nightly shower and heads to bed just after the news. Every single night. He’s going to kill me for saying this, but I get it now. Those little efforts at night have a high impact on his morning.

So before bed, I make sure that I have my clothes ready and everything else I might need. And then I make or refer to a list. A literal list of of what I’m going to do in the morning. From getting up, to using the restroom, to flossing. I’ve taken out all of the brainwork and now it’s muscle memory. And even better, it’s now a routine in the true sense. If I don’t do it, I feel uneasy. I guess that’s what it means to develop a habit. I feel a little like Rain Man, but hey, if you’ve got to be a little odd and repetitive about something make it something that will help you.

4. Tune in to your tired time

Around 9:30 p.m. every night I get a bit sleepy. It’s usually just some yawns and a case of droopy eyes. I used to fight through it and then be totally awake for several more hours instead of embracing my “tired time.” Now, I use it to my advantage. When it comes, I basically say goodnight and get on my way. Falling asleep is easy if I can get to bed within that window. When I talk to people about having a tired time I get funny looks. I’d like to think that most people are like me in this regard, but they just haven’t acknowledged it yet. Get in touch with your rhythm, you may be surprised what your body tells you.

5. Get up, get dressed and make the bed

There are some that may like to get up early and sit around in their pajamas, drinking coffee, and reading or even start working. Then they go get ready for their day. This does not work for me. My mind will latch onto the idea of a pajama day and the pain of departing from such a relaxing moment is too much for me to bear.

Likewise, I personally had to overcome a little morning routine that was ruining me. I used to wake up, go to the bathroom, and then crawl back into bed and read on my phone (Twitter, Facebook, and sometimes a book). By the time I got back out I knew pretty much all of the world’s news, what my friends were up to, and the latest plot twist in my book. This could last until 8:45 or 9, easily.

Knowing this about myself, I made sure that when I got up….I got up. I went right into the list I made, which dictates that I have to get ready before I do anything else and make my bed. No more crawl back in temptations.

6. Gamify it

I’m a nerd at heart. I love technology and I love games. Okay – I don’t think that classifies as a nerd anymore, but my love goes way back so I’m grandfathered in. Anyway – I found out about this great app called Coach.me. I will not lie, half of my success can be attributed to this *free* app that is all about building good habits. I like apps. I like checklists. I like when things turn bright green because I accomplished something. I like being in a community of people who are doing similar things. I have a feeling you will too. Get this app.

Lift App

Coach.me app

7. Take it slow

I knew that I wouldn’t be successful if I decided one day to start waking up at 5 instead of at 7:30. That wasn’t going to work. So I inched my way back. I started at 6:30, then after a couple of days got to 6. That made a huge difference in my life. Now I’m inching back further and I’m getting up at 5:45. My goal is to get up at 5:30. That seems reasonable to me. Don’t go crazy. Be kind to your mind and body.

So…

You may be wondering – what are the results and will she stick with it?

Well, I didn’t want to write about this until I was certain that the habits would stick. So I’ve been doing this for three weeks and it feels pretty set. I guess they were right about it taking 21 days to build a habit. I still worry about backsliding, but I’m doing a couple of things to decrease the likelihood.

First, I’m not sleeping in on the weekends like I used to. I’m trying to wake up at the same time every day so my rhythm stays the same. That quiet time on Saturday and Sunday mornings seems extra luxurious.

Second, I’m trying to acknowledge all the other great side effects of this new behavior, such as:

  • Saving a ton of money by eating breakfast at home and packing a lunch.
  • Getting to work on-time. As a manager, I feel like that’s the right thing to do, because it’s what I expect of my employees.
  • Wearing nicer clothes everyday.
  • Feeling less stressed because I’m not scrambling to feed, clothe, and move myself (and sometimes others).
  • Getting all the hot water I want in the morning.
  • Having a peaceful, easygoing drive into work since I’m not late.
  • Being more organized at work since I feel like I’m not already behind when I arrive.
  • Feeling good at the end of the day that I gave it my all.

Finally, I’d like to share a story about how I grew very appreciative of my new habits. Last week I was woken at 4:45 by a text message about a major IT outage at work. As an Assistant Director of IT Communications, I had to jump up and get to work right away. My brain was still on the slow side, but it could have been much worse. After a couple of conference calls, putting plans into action, and directing my staff, I had to leave to go into the office early. With a crisis at hand, I was more grateful than ever to have my clothes laid out, my packed lunch, and my iced coffee waiting for me in the fridge. When I was about to dash out of my bedroom to get on my way, I looked back at the unmade bed. I couldn’t let it stay that way, I went back and made it quickly. That’s when I knew. I knew that it had stuck and that later that night when I crawled into my nicely made bed, I’d be thanking the morning Rochelle for having it so together. For being that person I visioned for so many years.

My next steps:

  • Continue to develop these habits so that it’s now my default behavior.
  • Adapt the routine for the school year and getting the kids out the door as easily and pleasantly as possible.
  • Slowly start to build up cleaning and cooking habits so that it’s second nature.
  • Add in exercise, meditation, or yoga.
  • Get the rest of my home team on board. That one will be a little more tricky.

What are your tips for being an early riser?

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46 thoughts on “7 Steps to Become an Early Riser

  1. So many great ideas. Unfortunately, you take after your mother whose sleeping schedule has always been that of a night owl. Midnight to 8 a.m. has been my chosen sleeping hours, but it is not conducive to getting things done and enjoying the light hours of the day. My only other suggestion which only applies to me is to turn off the TV AND the computer. Being a Facebook junkie is something I am trying to cure.

    • I too, am a facebook junkie. I have found that if I logout of the app on my phone I am not constantly looking at it. This has been a great way to manage my use of it. I have found that I have a lot more time for other things and that I do not miss it. I check it every other day or when I think about it, but I logout as soon as I am done. Hope this helps!

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  4. THANK you for having advise other than “go to bed early” haha 🙂 I have the same vision for myself — mostly so that I will be more pleasant and awake when I’m getting the entire household ready and out the door for school and work — and it has been hard! I think my favorite tip was how detailed you are about preparing for the next day — I think I’m going to go set out the cereal and bowls right now 😉

  5. Truer words have never been typed! This is a great post. I can certainly relate to the night/morning relationship with one’s self. I feel like this was written just for me! I’ve tried to reform my daily habits, but I slip up. My Pomeranian does the cutest “don’t leave the bed” bit that results in me laying back down to hug him, take a “morning selfie” with him, and scan Instagram. I had to have more discipline on hugging him, and save it for after I’ve done everything necessary.

    I learned that if you want to add in exercise, you could have your alarm buzz on your favorite radio station. As soon as you get up, leave it on, use the bathroom (chances are this cannot wait) and come back for rhythmic stretching. A natural instinct to dance or walk in place to the beat will set in, and as long as you have 10 mins, or 3 songs worth of time to do this daily, your body adjusts to having energy first thing in the A.M. Another trick I use on myself is: to shorten my showers, I play a song from my cell phone with the desired length of time I want to spend in the tub. A familiar 4:34 song will fade to an end, signalling my cue to exit. I used to spend 30 whole mins in there, opting to wash my hair, shave my legs, give myself a pedicure– all done as if I had no where to be. This trick adds energy to the shower, rushes it along, and makes for great cliche singing!

    Again, great post. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who goes through this!

    • I love your shower tip! I,too, have a tendency to act like I have nowhere to be when I get in the shower. I am going to try your idea for myself. Thanks!

  6. Getting up early has been on my list for a while now. I really enjoyed your post and have found inspiration in it. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. I really enjoyed this! I have been trying to become an early riser but I haven’t tried really hard. I have been making my bed and trying not to lie around and look at Facebook for 20 minutes. All of these habits would be great for me so I will give them a shot for 21 days and see how it goes! Thank you for being so honest!

  8. I definitely need to give this a try. I’m supposed to be at work at 9 often times I get there 930 without any remorse. .. so bad… now I want to go back to my old schedule 8 to 5 due to my pregnancy I want to be home early and stress less. Is so bad… I completely relate to the story here… I need to make a change I want to make a change. I’m desperate to be that one person that wakes up on time and can be more organized. I need to give this a try.
    Typed @12:15 am. Omg bye.

  9. I feel like I just met my long-lost twin, and she had a great detailed plan to help me with what I have been struggling to get started! Thanks a million, lost twin! You’re the best! 😉

  10. I’m so glad I found this post on pinterest! I literally said “I wish I was a morning person” when I finally got out of bed this morning! And then after sauntering into work at 9:37 (work starts at 9….which is when I left my house…before doing at McDonald’s) I hurried thru my task that HAD to be completed today and then busted out a weekly chart Monday thru Sunday, morning, afternoon and evening “routines” I want to happen. My husband gets home just after 3 and snacks while watching tv from then until I get home between 6:30-7. This wasn’t working for me, especially since he gets up, gets dressed and walks out the door all within 15min every morning…leaving me to feed and empty the pets. My two morning goals are C25K and making breakfast for myself while getting out the door on time. Tomorrow I will get up when my first alarm goes off. Hoping to work towards getting up at the same time he does so I can do my C25K, breakfast, the dishes, the pets, and still be on time. Thanks for the outline!

    • this is a great post, but maybe you could add something to his morning routine to give you a break and lessen your morning burdens.

  11. Every year it’s been the same New Years resolution for me; to become a morning person, and with no real plan, I never made it to Jan 2, I am now going to start growing up and intentionally implement every suggestion. Procrastination is the devil, and I have allowed it to rob me of precious time way too long. I have so much to live for and life to enjoy that is slipping by fast. I am looking forward to kissing the anxiety that comes from poor time management and a constant victim of my avoidable circumstances good-bye.. Thanks for the reminders and encouragement and inspiration ! Although I must admit.. I will miss my daytime jammies the most I think 🙂

  12. Love your post! I have recently started to get up early, make my bed, etc (it’s been a few weeks since I started) and I can tell a difference. Your post helps me to stay committed to my new routine. Thanks! In the spirit of like mindedness, I would like to share with you what inspired me to change my morning routine. Hopefully it will help you to reinforce your desire to wake up early like your post helped me! The part about the 5-minute journal is FABULOUS!

    http://www.the21daychallenge.com/creating-morning-routine

  13. I absolutely NEEDED this!!! I need to be more organized and start creating good time saving habits so this just helped like nobody’s business! ~Any tips on cooking and keeping the house tidy-habits would be Awesome as well 😉

    THANK YOU!

  14. ughh .. step 1 for me is “get motivation and stop being lazy”. it fricken sucks, especially because i know most of this stuff already =/ i’m going to try out coach.me though; it’s already downloading on my phone .. it seems like it’s alot better than the stock reminders app that’s on my phone. thanks for the info, sisx2!

  15. Holy cow! I just came across your post (thank you Pinterest) because what would the nighttime be be doing other than reading on my phone instead of doing all the things that morning me wishes I would do. I feel like you climbed inside of my head! This is me to the “T”!!!!! Thanks for the great tips 🙂 One week, I’ll lay out clothes for the whole week and do all sorts of great things and the next I’ll be digging through piles of clean clothes for the least wrinkled pair of work pants I can find. I know it’s possible, I know how much better my day goes when I do these things and yet I just don’t. Thanks for the push!

  16. I loved this. I’ve been trying to work on a better sleeping schedule as well so I could get up earlier. So far, I’ve done everything else on this list all ready but I’m working on the waking up time where you push it back gradually. Right now, my mother doesn’t understand it at all. She still gets angry at me because I’m still asleep at 9 or so because she’s been up since 7 or whatever that morning. Yes, while 9am isn’t early by any means, it’s MUCH earlier than when i used to get up at oh around 2pm. I’ve improved vastly and I am gonna keep working on it. Thanks for the post that is gonna make me stick to my guns.

  17. Thank you so much for this post, it is simply amazing! I too wish to be that ideal person. This is by far the best and most useful post. Waking up in the morning is such a drag when you have no idea what to wear, what to eat, and what to do. I will definitely be referring back to this post as I start my journey on becoming the best I canbeThank you so much.

  18. This post is wonderful! Thank you for all the tips and tricks. I can’t wait to try the coffee for the week idea. My boyfriend always makes fun of me because I make the bed right before we crawl into it, so maybe I’ll have to try making it before leaving the bedroom now!

  19. I doing this very same thing. I have 3 kids two is high school and one in elementary. I found out that getting up with the kids and getting ready when they do is not a good idea. when everyone is fighting over the bathroom. so this year I made a change.I sign up for fly lady and it has really been helping me change the way I do things. its this saying that I use with everything i do. How you do anything is how you do everything. That’s when it hit me. so now I have a routine. with everything. I get up at 530 am focus on me prepare myself so when that kids get up i’m all set. and my focus is more on them. making a little change really does make life much easier.

  20. Rochelle i just want to thank you a ton .I too struggled my life to become a morning person as i too saw them growing quickly…. my younger sister to be exact…. well due to my night time active my relationship with my husband was getting affected now when my baby has started schooling i am seeing myself getting up early for her but as you said the temptaion of bed we still have arguments …….however after reading you blog i came to realize what mistake i made and what else is required to work on…… thank you so much.

  21. Pingback: 7 Steps to Become an Early Riser | The Simple Sisters | Survivor Scrapbook

  22. Oh man 5:30! My goal is to be up and at em by 8! I am so not a morning person- she said just after midnight. But I know when I’m up and getting tasks done by noon I feel so much more accomplished. Definitely will put this tips into practice, starting with #1!!!

  23. Pingback: How to Become an Early Riser | Her natural bloom

  24. These are great tips. I make lists too but I love that there’s an app that turns green when I’ve checked everything off. I’m definitely trying that one.
    I’ve also been trying to get up earlier. I was at 6:00 up to last week and then this weekend just railroaded me and this morning I even overslept. I should go to bed right now, as a matter of fact.
    http://Runwright.net

  25. I truly agree with the tired time. I am always sleepy at 10pm. I tell everyone at home that I wanna turn in early then I get the kids to prepare for school …clean the kitchen….load the washing machine…and by the time it’s midnight and I just can’t fall asleep till 2 am. So I am starting with sleeping when I am sleepy. Thanks Rochelle.

  26. Great tips! This is kind of a random question, but how do you make ready-to-go iced coffee that you put in the fridge for next morning? I have 8 ams next semester and I have an hour commute to school every day, so I definitely need to get in the habit of waking up early!! Haha And I love iced coffee 🙂

    • Sure! I’m still doing quite well at this. Every now and again I get sloppy or in bad ruts where I don’t prep on the weekend or the night before. I always suffer for it. Every now and again I fall into the trap where night time me thinks morning me will be a-ok with doing everything. Morning me hates that. A lot. A benefit of all of this is that I now wake up early naturally, even on the weekends. I don’t make the iced coffee as much, especially in the winter. But I did buy a Keurig and so that is super speedy and easy for me.

      In the post, I identified my next steps. Here’s how that has gone:

      Continue to develop these habits so that it’s now my default behavior.

      > Yes, I’d say it is default most days.

      Adapt the routine for the school year and getting the kids out the door as easily and pleasantly as possible.

      >The morning routine was established, but what we’re working on now is a night time routine. The girls are 12 and 9. The 12 year old never wants to go to bed and it is really hard to get her up in the morning. She is a master staller, and ends up keeping us up later than we want to be. That makes an impact on my ability to tune into my tired time. We’ve now set more rigid rules about bedtimes and that seems to be helping a lot.

      Slowly start to build up cleaning and cooking habits so that it’s second nature.

      >This comes and goes for me. We’ve definitely got a good morning routine, where we eat at home. There’s still a lot of work to do for this. I recently subscribed to Blue Apron and I’m excited to see how that helps.

      Add in exercise, meditation, or yoga.

      >I’m still not great at this, but when I do something, it’s usually meditation.

      Get the rest of my home team on board. That one will be a little more tricky

      >Tricky indeed. My husband is very set in his ways. His philosophy – get as much sleep as possible, so if he has to leave the house at 8 a.m., he will get up at 7 a.m., because he knows that’s how much time it will take him to get ready. The 9 year-old is a natural early riser. The 12 year-old not as much. One thing that has helped her get up is that we follow a couple of the tips in Elephant Journal’s “9 Morning Habits That Will Change Your Life.” (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/9-morning-habits-that-will-change-your-life/). We do ones like greeting the world, where we go outside into the cold and say “Hello world” and then listen for birds. I encourage her to do the yoga stretches in her bed. A few times I made her the hot water, lemon, and honey, but she drinks two sips and leaves the rest behind. What is beneficial about this is that it’s a very gentle way for her to wake up and so we get started on the right foot, instead of me screaming at her to get her ass out of bed.

      Good luck with your journey!

  27. Thank you so much! The outline is great! I have struggled with being an early riser all of my life. You have truly opened my eyes. Best wishes!

  28. Pingback: 7 Steps to Become an Early Riser – The Art of Becoming While Overcoming

  29. Did you know there is a rally a sleep disorder called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder? It’s pretty much be in a chronic night owl who cannot wake up in the morning. It is real, though. I have it. I simony have to choose a career where I can work late. It is HARD ough! Haha

  30. Great ideas, for all those internet junkies like myself, I would also put my phone on silent mode, not vibration so if anything pops up its not to disrupt my sleep or tempt me to check, then, put the phone away from the bed as well. It really has helped me sleep early.

  31. I am committing this article to memory. This has been a goal of mine for so long and now that I’m turning 30 I’m getting it together with my weight and sleep is an important factor. I feel like your strategy will work for me I just wonder how you deal with inconsistencies in your schedule like when you stay awake till 3 o’clock on Sunday morning with friends because your Saturday night was seriously awesome.

    I’m really into consistency and routine… But life isn’t routine and I think that’s why I’ve kept giving up on my sleep goals. Gonna try your way.

  32. Hi ! First of all thanks a million. You put down everything that I think and feel about sleeping and waking up and everything in between. I begin following your routine today.

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