How To Become An Early Riser From A Night Owl

morning routine for parents

At university I was a night owl, I would wake until the wee hours of the morning shedding my brain cells on some assignment or project. Many days I’d drag myself home at 4am after a long session in the library (yes I was and AM a geek), dropping dead on the bed and waking up again for lectures at 8am.

Yes …very haphazard, I know.

That’s just the norm in college or university though, but these haphazard habits can follow us well into our adult years. So after reading all the feel good morning posts I decided to see what all the fuss was about and try the morning routine shizzle for a change.

As a parent I fully understand how the day can get extremely hectic, and it is easy to switch off when advice about morning routines is thrown at you. Dismissing it as a faff or tiresome activity only achievable by the single, lonely and self-consumed individuals.

But as a fellow parent who has seen the ‘other side’ so to speak and made it a success I assure you, that it’s something you CAN achieve even with a family.

Picture these two scenarios…

Scenario One

You wake up to the sound of the alarm, with 90 minutes on the clock till you have to be at work/business/school runs (insert any activity here!). You hit the snooze button for the next 15 minutes only to find that it has delayed everything. Shit! You are now late.

You run to the bathroom and on the way, try to get your kids out of their beds too. Upon returning you find that they have clambered back in, after a short screaming match while your kids test your mettle early in the morning, you manage to usher them towards the bathroom while you run down to prepare some lunches and breakfasts.

During all this you are constantly wondering if you will ever get some time to just gather your thoughts together. You get interrupted a million times by the kids asking about where their clothes/ toothpaste/towels/ books etc are and you try to juggle breakfast making, lunch preparation and other errands all at the same time.

You then remember you needed to send some emails out so you try to juggle this while doing everything else, finally after getting some food on the plate for the kids and the husband/wife you somehow manage to get in a quick shower before you rush out to do the drop off duties, forever wondering where that 5 minute of solitude that you needed had disappeared to.

Scenario Two

You wake up to the sound of the alarm with 2 hours to spare until you have to be out of the door, you turn the alarm off and get out of bed.

It’s still dark outside but it’s nice and quite, you take some time to gather your thoughts and leisurely make your way to the kitchen for your morning brew (or smoothie), you make the most of the quite time to relax and meditate and write a couple of sentences in your gratitude journal.

Then you do some stretches and write out 3 things that you would like to achieve for the day. Maybe you’ll head out to the garden for a morning walk and watch the sun rise while you reflect on how far you have come, and remind yourself of your goals and aspirations. While the birds chirp you focus on the tasks for the day and prepare your mind and body for the day ahead.

You come back inside and wake the kids/hubby/wife and now having taken time out for yourself to refocus your mind, you are much more prepared for the day ahead.

 

Reading the scenarios above I’m pretty sure which one you would choose, the moral of the story here is to take the bull by the horns rather than the bull controlling you. When you control your day you will feel much more positive and will get a lot more done, Whereas if you let the day control you, you’ll feel out of your depth and at a total loss.

If you run or plan on running a business from home, sooner or later you’ll have to take some time out to gather your thoughts and organise your day or else you’ll just reach burnout.

Why Should You Have A Morning Routine?

A morning routine is actually something many successful people have in common, From Richard Branson to Benjamin Franklin, in fact many have regarded it as the essential habit to create if you want to be successful.

Surely if all these successful people are doing it there must be something in it that works, right!

If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years while creating my own path to success and happiness is to learn as much as you can from other successful entrepreneurs. Failing to plan your day, or having a morning routine will not only affect your focus for the day but it can also make you less productive.

Benefits Of Waking Up In The Morning

Here are some of the benefits I have realised from waking earlier in the morning:

Great welcome to the day

It is great to see one more day, as unpredictable as life is, it’s always great to know that I have been blessed with another day to do the things that I feel passionate about. This in itself is very humbling and pushes you to make the most of the whole day. Resulting in a focused effort to do the things you are passionate about i.e. progressing your business, or spending valuable time with your family.

 

Everyday, think as you wake up, Today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others…

Dalai Lama

Set goals

A morning routine allows you to take 5-10 minutes out to write your goals for the day, month or year. I normally take some time out to set 3 goals for the day. As Natalie Sisson, The Suitcase entrepreneur calls them; these are my MIA’s i.e. my Most Important Actions for the day.

My MIA’s are normally a set of the essential tasks I need to achieve from that day, it may be that you want to do more networking with your potential customers or your industry leaders on social media. Or maybe you want to approach more freelancing clients, or schedule coaching calls, or eve produce a daily podcast that you work on.

Whatever it is if it is something important then make an aim to get it done first thing after your morning routine. Getting these important tasks done first will give you a great sense of achievement, plus you’ll have freedom for the rest of the day to do what you please.

Kelly McGonigal, PhD and author of The Willpower Instinct* says that will power is actually a finite resource that becomes depleted throughout the day. So make sure to get your Most Important Actions of the day, sorted earlier rather than later when you may feel less inclined to do anything.

Skyrocket Productivity

I find that since having my daughter I am more productive in the morning, as there are fewer distractions so it’s easier to focus your energy on a task. I tend to do a lot of my writing work in the morning, and social media and other non-strenuous tasks are done in the evening or during the day.

Breakfast

Rising early allows you to have a healthy nutritious breakfast, rather than grabbing something on the way out. During my J.O.B days I would normally skip breakfast, which meant walking into the work place with a grumbling tummy and hunger pangs throughout the morning. Resulting in overconsumption at lunchtime.

Now that I work from home I love to take time out and prepare a proper breakfast. I especially love Green smoothies with either kale or spinach, which are really tasty and help to give me a boost in the morning followed by some breakfast, which I normally end up sharing with my daughter once she wakes up! (She also loves smoothies).

How To Become A Morning Person

Changing your routine from a night owl to an early riser isn’t as hard as it may first seem, but don’t make it harder for your self by going totally cold turkey, trust me I have tried it.

I actually decided one day that instead of waking at 8am I’d be waking at 4:30am. I set the alarm, woke up, took a shower, got dressed, went downstairs and realised that I didn’t have anything to do plus I had a major headache! So I came back up and dropped back into bed.

Take it a step at a time

The key here is to take it a step at a time, start by waking up 15-20 minutes earlier than usual and then make it another 15 minutes, then 30 minutes then…you get the gist. By doing this you are sort of training your will power muscle slowly to keep making progress rather than it giving up on the first day.

Get to bed earlier

If you find that you stay up late at night surfing the Internet or watching TV, waking up early will actually exhaust you. Eventually you’ll fall back into old habits. Make sure to get to bed earlier, alongside your morning changes so that you can have a full nights sleep. You’ll feel much more refreshed and ready to take on the day in the morning.

Weekend, what weekend?

Don’t ditch the routine on the weekend, you’ll interrupt your flow and again fall into old habits! Keep the routine going and soon it’ll become second nature. I now find that my body is trained to get up at a certain time so I wake up without an alarm clock as my body is used to the routine.

Put the alarm clock away

Make sure that your alarm clock is well away from the bed so that you cannot just roll over and hit snooze. The act of physically getting up and turning the sound off will get you moving in the morning, plus now that you are out of bed and awake, that’s one half of the battle done.

I actually used this clock* to get me into action in the morning, its super cool as the propeller starts flying around the room once the alarm goes off and you have to look for it and place it back onto the clock to turn the annoying siren off. Trust me if you have kids you’ll WANT to run as fast as you can to turn the damn thing off before they wake up!

Walk out of the room

Now that you are awake, walk out of the room to rid the temptation to crawl back into bed. I usually head straight for the bathroom and wash my face with cold water to wake me up.

Have a plan

Waking up in the morning to get an extra 2-3 hours in the day is great but useless if you don’t have a plan of action. Waking up for the sake of it will just make you feel like it’s a useless activity. Therefore plan out what you will do with the extra time, do you want to exercise, read a book, or write in your journal? Whatever it is plan it out the night before so that you know exactly how you’ll be using the time.

Reward yourself

Do whatever it takes to get you pumped up for the morning, if that means rewards then go for it. I doesn’t even have to be anything big, it can be something as small as a nice smoothie or 5-10 minutes to listen to your favourite music, you may decide to reward yourself with your favourite coffee and a good book. This may seem like a silly way to get yourself to do something but it works, plus it’ll only be for a little while, sooner or later you’ll get used to waking up in the morning and so won’t have to bait yourself into doing it.

What not to do in the morning

Put the phone and laptop away

As hard as it may seem, checking your email and social media feeds as soon as you wake up can distract you from the tasks ahead, I found myself losing track of time many times while browsing my social media feeds. But since setting a ‘no socio-email in the morning’ rule I can get much more work done.

If you find it extremely difficult to hone in on your social beast, then make it a reward (see above) for when you have accomplished certain tasks of the day. I tend to do any social media or email related stuff in pre-planned sections of the day.

Don’t dive into your daily routine

Getting up early only to find yourself strolling out of your bed into your office to start clicking away on you laptop is not the aim here. Working from home takes discipline, so be sure to use your morning to do some planning or meditation or something else mindful. Don’t just lurch into your business tasks as soon as you wake up. Take some time for yourself even if its 15-20 minutes maybe read some chapters of a book or enjoy a cup of coffee with some music. Ease yourself into the day, so you can control it, rather than the other way round.

Lets do this!

So what will you be doing to change your morning routine? Or maybe you already have something kick ass in place, I would love to hear what you do to make your day more productive. Whether you are working in a full-time job or have a side hustle or even at home with your kids, what fires you up in the morning and what would you like to change.

I’d love to hear more about your morning rituals, feel free to share them in the comments below.

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  • Eric Conley

    Great article!

    I’m a big believer in that you have to have a plan for the morning. No one is going to wake up early “just because”– there has to be a strong reason for doing so.

    • Thanks Eric, yea absolutely waking up for the sake of it is a sure fire way back to snoozeville!