“Every time you hit the snooze button you are delaying your dreams 9 minutes at a time” – Mark Batterson
I remember hearing older men talking about their inability to sleep in, and I would think, “not me! I’ve never had that problem!” If you would’ve tried to tell me that one day I would wake up at 5 am by choice and enjoy it, I would have laughed at your stupidity. For most of my life, I was a stereotypical night owl; my most productive hours were from 10pm-2am. My preferred daily schedule was 10am-2pm, and I HATED the mornings!
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin
But then I had kids, and things began to change. At first, it was nice to be a night owl because my wife would go to bed and I would handle the late night feedings but once I had to wake up to take our daughter to preschool being a night owl who woke up at 6:30 am or 7:00 am didn’t work. What seemed like everyday, We were late to preschool, and I was getting evil eyes from all the staff at the school, not to mention I was a zombie. Something had to change.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
I started reading blogs and articles about successful people and their daily routines, and I noticed almost all of them were waking up at 5 am. There were a few exceptions like Winston Churchill who stayed up most of the night and slept until noon every day, but for the most part, it appeared a factor to success was the time set on your alarm clock, so I decided to give it a try. I changed my alarm from 7 am to 5:30 am and for the most part it worked. Some mornings I would run, other mornings I would write, but regardless of what I did, I felt incredibly productive. Here are 4 things I did, and you can do to become a morning person(ish)
1. Go to bed!
Duh! Right? It’s almost impossible to be a night owl and a morning person. There are a few rare individuals who are capable of operating on 4 hours sleep, but I am not one of them. I need to be asleep by 10:30 pm at the latest, preferably 10 pm to feel energetic the next day. This was a big shift for me because I loved my productive hours late at night. Also, I had to start going to bed instead of staying up to watch sports. Sunday or Monday night football would keep me up until midnight, so I decided I had to miss the game or at least go to bed at halftime.
2. Take a nap
I heard a podcast interview with Micheal Hyatt and Mark Batterson who both said they woke up at 5 am but took 20 min naps during the middle of the day. I never used to take naps (except on Sunday’s after church), but after experimenting with the midday power nap, I was hooked. I have a couch in my office so most days I will set my alarm for 20 min and get a recharge. If I don’t take a nap, I have to guard against falling asleep in my recliner when I get home and throwing my whole system out of whack.
3. Have a project
When I first started waking up at 5:30 I was kind of bored, and I felt like I was much more productive at night. I would do my devotions, and then kind of sit around or browse the internet. I thought, “man, getting up early is dumb!” but then I started writing my first book. It gave me a purpose to wake up. I had a goal of writing 1 chapter each morning. I rarely finished a chapter, but I had a project, and it gave me purpose. With my goal now I was finished with my devotions and writing before 7:30 am. There is a rush that comes from early morning productivity unmatched at night.
4. Get rid of the snooze button
I must admit I go through seasons where I get into the habit of snoozing, especially after If I’m not writing a book. I have always been a pro at hitting the snooze button on my alarm. I knew I had to change some habits to get my morning routine strong again so I decided to move from 5:30 am to 5 am and started using a new iPhone app called “Alarmy.” There are similar apps out there, but the gist is it requires your brain to wake up to turn off the alarm. I chose the math option so in order to turn off the alarm I have to answer three math problems like 98×4+37=? It almost always takes me 4 or 5 tries to get it.
After almost two years of waking up early, I wouldn’t want to go back to the way it was. There are still seasons where I find myself going to bed later and waking up later, but now that I have set up a daily routine, the days I oversleep I feel like my day is wasted. I encourage anyone who is considering waking up earlier to give it a try.
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