Would you like to improve your productivity and give your creativity a boost? Does it feel like you can’t get traction on your project? Two years ago, I chose one habit that changed my writing life.
I started waking up at five-thirty….a.m.!
Anyone who knows me can tell you: this was a monumental upheaval of habit. I’d always been a night owl. I think, if left to wake up on my own, it would have been after 11 am. I’d always viewed morning people with incomprehension and distrust. And I believed that everyone was one or the other — night owl or early riser — and there was no way to change it.
But I did, and this is what I found:
- I feel better. Having a sleep schedule improves my health and focus. A lot of the time, I no longer need an alarm clock. Waking up naturally a few minutes before that rude jangling is such a gentle, different beginning than hitting the snooze roughly seven times. I have pretty much eliminated my occasional insomnia. I know to start my bedtime ritual right around eight thirty because I’ll be dozing off by nine-thirty. This schedule helps my body heal and take care of itself (even when exposed to all the germs that go around school). When I feel better, I lose fewer days to sickness and fatigue.
- I consistently move toward my goal. Whatever else happens later to derail my day (and it will happen) doesn’t affect me as much. The first hour of the day is time no one will take from me. I used think I’d get a pocket of free time later in the day, but it rarely unfolded that way. For example, the morning I left the house and someone else hit a deer into my car? Those things are annoying, but not nearly as annoying when I’ve already reached my daily quota. I can even feel pretty darn productive while waiting for the tow truck driver and jotting down a few ideas for the next morning…
- Nobody waits on me. I don’t know about you, but I used to be chronically late. No more! One of the reasons I ran late was because I was trying to cross ONE more task off my to-do list before I left the house. I still have a to-do list that’s half a mile long, but I can approach it with calm instead of panic, because I get the most important part of my day done first. And since I’m not rushing around in the morning, there’s less stress, tempers don’t flare, and the rest of the day goes more smoothly.
- It’s empowering. I don’t sweat when there’s an early meeting on my calendar. I’m able to take the early appointments at the dentist no one wants. I feel the buzz of the early-morning, just-before-daylight energy. (Don’t ask me, but the air is different then; you’ll see…) I used to feel like a slob running around in a panic; now I feel like I actually have some measure of self-discipline. I’m motivated to exercise in the mornings, instead of hoping I’ll feel like it in the afternoon. (I never did.) I can be more generous with my time later in the day. The confidence I have from changing this one habit feels so good.
Your creativity will be energized, too. It’s amazing how the brain will thrive on a schedule and start to save little surprising insights for the morning.
Create a new habit!
If you’re feeling discouraged, like you’re in a rut and just can’t quite reach the goals you set, try becoming a morning person. If you feel like you can’t get any traction, give yourself a three-month trial period. It’s made all the difference to me. I’ll never go back to being a night owl!
For tips on making the switch, read my post on how to become a morning person.
NOW YOU: Are you a morning person or a night owl?