Morning people are made, not born. I know this because I wasn’t one – until I was.
I spent years as a chronic “snoozer.” Despite my many ambitious plans to get up early and get anything done in the morning, I could not control my conditioned response to hit that button and stay under the covers until the last possible instant. I knew exactly how many snoozes I could get away with, after which there was no possible hope of getting breakfast for the kids or two matching shoes on my feet.
All that changed about a dozen years ago.
I took a look at all the things I was (or more appropriately, wasn’t) getting done in the evening. I’d come home from work and of course everyone was hungry, so there was dinner to prepare. And eat. And clean up after. Another random chore or two and I was mentally, physically and chronologically ready for bed.
If I was going to accomplish anything outside of work and dinner, getting up early was the best guarantee, in fact the only guarantee, of it happening.
I started getting up between 4:00 and 5:00 every morning. I know, sounds crazy, right? It’s actually awesome. The air is different at that time of day (you’ll have to check it out yourself to see what I mean). The whole world is quieter (well, the observable part of it anyway). You have the space to think, and the energy to act.
I look at it this way – a lot of people have interests, hobbies, chores, side hustles, and other stuff that they plan to do at the end of their workday. But when five or six rolls around, there’s sometimes barely enough bandwidth to feed yourself, much less be productive.
By “flipping” my day, I have the same number of discretionary hours as I did before, but now they’re at a more productive time of day. Sure, I go to bed a little earlier, but I never was a big week-night party animal anyway. And if I stay up later on the weekends I can indulge in that weekend delicacy, the nap.
It took just a few weeks to become a habit, really sort of an addiction, and now I don’t even need an alarm clock to get up before 5:00.
Here are just some of the super-human things you can do when you decide to be a morning person –
Exercise while most of the world is sleeping
It’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment (and ok, maybe just a touch of superiority), to be getting your walk, weights, or whatever you like to do, finished before most of the world is waking up.
Exercising early in the day is your best assurance that you’ll get it done, that it won’t be forgotten or, more often, sacrificed for some other important priority. It promotes consistency, improves mental and physical energy, and boosts your metabolism throughout the day.
If walking is your exercise of choice, there’s no better time than early morning. The air is crisper and cleaner, there’s less traffic on the streets and less exhaust fumes in the air, and the world is just quieter.
6 a.m. yoga classes are pretty great, too. There’s often only about half a dozen or so that show up with regularity at that time of day, so class is very personal and never crowded.
If you live in a metropolitan area like I do, getting to the grocery store in the early morning hours means getting shopping done in a fraction of the time, especially on the weekends when people are “sleeping in.” No traffic, easy parking, and no lines at the registers.
The only drawback to shopping early is picking up fresh bread, since the daily delivery won’t have arrived yet, but then there’s another early morning thing you can do …
Make bread, or cook something low and slow
Nothing beats homemade bread, fresh out of the oven. It doesn’t take a lot of hands-on time, but it does take a fair amount of clock time. When you start the day early, you can throw together a dough, let it do its thing throughout the day, and impress your family or friends for dinner.
It’s also a good time to start a soup or a Bolognese sauce, get something going in the slow cooker, or maybe get a rack of baby back ribs slow roasting in the oven.
Plan your next event
Having your next party or holiday come off like clockwork takes planning and focus, which morning hours are perfect for.
I like to spend quiet time going through Pinterest for recipe and serving ideas, taking into consideration the number of guests and whether they’ll be seated at a table or scattered around the “manor.” Once I’ve settled on the menu, I can list out all of the ingredients for each recipe, and organize them by which stores I’ll need to go to. Lastly, I’ll prepare a little timeline of what needs to be prepped and cooked when, so that in the end, everything looks effortless.
Or, you know, Google caterers. Whatever.
Are you piling up the interesting emails or YouTubes you wanted to see? Morning “me” time gives you a chance to do that.
I totally geek out on learning new stuff. If you do too, have you checked out MasterClass? You can learn about pretty much anything from pros at the top of their profession.
Then there’s Babbel, to work on my never-ending quest to learn French. And writers groups. And podcasts. Stuff I would think I would do at night but probably wouldn’t.
Online banking, shopping, etc.
Basically anything that can be done online can be knocked out in the early hours of the day, before shiny object syndrome has an opportunity to kick in.
The wrap up
Being a morning person isn’t for everyone, and that’s probably a good thing – otherwise it would lose its advantage. But maybe it’s for you.
Besides, a number of studies indicate that “morning people” are more productive and successful. Just Google it … early one morning.