Have you ever been jealous of the those remarkable people who wake up at 7 AM or earlier because they actually want to? In other words, have you ever been jealous of “morning people”?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone ever want to be one of those dastardly creatures that is cheery and talks in the morning? Well, I don’t mean “morning person” in this horrid sense. In fact, I can assure you that cheeriness is the antithesis of me. I instead use this term to describe one of those remarkable individuals that enjoys mornings and makes good use of them without being obnoxious.
I have become increasingly jealous of these morning people because, for the last few months, I have often thought, I hate how late I start working in the morning. Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not your typical teenager who sleeps till noon. I haven’t done that in a very long time because I feel like I have wasted my life if I do. I usually get up between 8 and 9, but I have hypothyroidism so I don’t eat breakfast first thing. And why do anything more productive than getting dressed before breakfast? Then once I do have breakfast, I read manga while I eat, so there goes another 45 minutes. . . . In the end, I seldom start working until 10:30 or 11. Or 11:30. What have I been doing for the past 2-3 hours? Nothing productive, that’s for sure!
The solution to this problem would be to 1) get up earlier, and 2) begin my day doing something productive. Otherwise, I will find myself twirling through an infinite cycle of “I started working so late again today. I’ll wake up earlier tomorrow morning so I start working earlier.” and “I’m up early-ish, but too tired to do anything productive.” You may not have the same schedule as I do, but you may find yourself stuck in the same cycle. Why should you break this cycle (aside from lessening your guilt), and, further, what can you do instead of wasting your time in the morning?
Enjoy Your Mornings
I think that the number one reason to break this cycle is because you can then begin to enjoy your mornings. “Impossible, Julie,” you might shout, “there is no such thing as ‘enjoying’ mornings. They are awful. I am forced out of my cozy bed and must do things instead of enjoying my sleep.” True, to an extent.
Mornings can be awful for several reasons:
- You didn’t get enough sleep;
- There’s a lot of stuff to do today and you don’t want to do any of it;
- People are around you. And they’re talking.
I’m not going to promise you that you will magically love mornings once you start waking up earlier. If I convince you to try waking up earlier by the end of this post, you may wake up tomorrow morning and decide that your productive task for the morning will be planning my immediate demise. Like most things, you must move gradually to your end goal. You may feel frustrated because you have yet to get results.* But you will get there eventually. I would suggest waking up 5-10 minutes earlier every day (ex., Monday: 9 AM; Tuesday: 8:50 AM; Wednesday: 8:40 AM; etc.). If that’s too fast, wake up ten minutes earlier than usual and maintain that time for the rest of the week (ex., Week 1: 9 AM; Week 2: 8:50 AM; etc.). It’s fine if you must have different wake-up times for different days of the week as long as they are consistent and not vastly different. It may not be a good idea to match your weekend wake-up schedule to your workweek wake-up schedule.
Now, the second reason your morning may suck is harder to address. I find myself in this mood sometimes. Why can’t I just sit here and seethe? Honestly, I don’t really have a solution for you. Only, remember that you can either do it today or you can spend the time until you do it suffering because it will just be constantly hanging over your head. And maybe you’ll find that starting your day productively makes you more willing to tackle that task that previously sounded worse than being thrown into a pool full of piranhas.
It would be very nice if people learned to keep the noise level down, especially in the morning. Unfortunately, most people haven’t, and it isn’t a very good idea to cover your peers’/colleagues’/family members’/roommates’ mouths with duct tape. Depending on your schedule, you may be able to solve this in a less . . . rude way. Can you wake up earlier to avoid their noise for at least part of your morning? Depending on who is making all that noise, can you politely ask them to turn down the TV a little or make some other simple changes that won’t prevent either of you from enjoying your mornings or doing something that needs to get done?
Provided that you either don’t run into these problems or you can solve them, the early morning may become an enjoyable time for you.
*Note: I often struggle with this, not because I want instant gratification (as nice as that would be), but because I feel like I’m not working hard enough. This can sometimes be true, but often doing more would be impossible or destructive rather than helpful. One way I avoid beating myself up over “failing” is repeating to myself something that I have often heard Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene say: “Acknowledge where you are today.” In my mind, this doesn’t mean “Stop working hard” or “Don’t change things that need to be changed.” Instead, it means to remember that things don’t change in an instant and that you shouldn’t beat yourself up while things are still in process.
Mornings Are Peaceful
Early mornings, like nighttime, can be extremely peaceful. I don’t really know why they are peaceful. Maybe because a lot of other people are asleep and the world seems to be moving slowly. Maybe because they allow for solitude unlike the middle of the day.
Regardless, if nighttime and early morning are similar in this way, why bother changing your night-owl schedule?
Well, to begin with, if you drink coffee, waking up earlier is great. Chances are, you don’t often drink coffee at night. Therefore, more time in the morning=more coffee. After all, to quote Stranger Things, “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.” If you don’t drink coffee, I’m so very sorry for your loss.
Secondly, there are some things that I leave till the end of the day to do, and I usually find that by that time, I am too tired to put in the brainpower required to do them to the best of my ability. In the morning, yes, you are somewhat tired, but I often find that I am far more likely to put in the effort needed to think about or work on something at this time than I do at night. Also, I spend less time editing because if I do something late at night, I often have more to edit the next day. Case in point, the many drafts of this blog post.
Also, in my house, most of my family members are night-owls. This means that it often isn’t silent or near silent in my house late at night. Any sense of peace is shattered. On the other hand, in the early mornings, either people have left for work, etc. or are still asleep. Therefore, mornings often feel more peaceful than nights. Of course, if most of your family members are (loud) morning people, maybe you will find the nights more peaceful. Then again, you may still have to grapple with how to address other problems that would otherwise be solved by waking up earlier. Or you might be an extrovert, in which case, you would probably prefer to have others around you in the morning. Which sounds terrible to me, but whatever.
Now that you are getting up earlier and moving toward enjoying mornings, how are you supposed to make them productive, especially when you are tired? I mean, when is the last time you actually felt like doing something productive when you were tired, specifically at night? If you’re like me, your idea of being productive at night is cleaning up your Pinterest boards or finally watching that video someone told you to watch.
While you may be tired in the morning, I have found that mornings inspire a feeling of productivity that night does not. As such, it is the perfect time to do productive activities. I often start my mornings by reading, which is, I suppose, a recreational activity and not truly productive. However, if you have a book to read for school/other responsibility, this is the perfect time to read it. On the other hand, if it’s really boring, you might fall asleep. Maybe read it during your lunch break instead.
If your book is beyond boring or reading isn’t your thing (you heathen!), you can do everyone’s favorite task: cleaning. Okay, to be honest, I actually like to clean. And I’m not advocating that you clean your baseboards and windowsills (if you’re up to it, go for it). Do your routine mindless, calming chores like cleaning the bathroom sink, washing the dishes, or changing your sheets. These don’t take much energy, but they keep you moving, which prevents you from falling back into a doze. And, bonus, you won’t have to do them later.
Of course, you may be horrified at the thought of starting out your day by cleaning. Instead, spending time with God is a great option. I usually read my Bible at night, but end up reading less than I planned or not journaling after because it is nearly midnight and I need to be up at 6:30. That’s not meeting my goal, or, more importantly, making God my first priority. Unfortunately, I end up pushing him and his Word aside in favor of sleep (which, don’t get me wrong, is important, but I am hardly giving God enough of my time). By reading your Bible in the morning, you may find that you spend more time thinking about what you have read or that you are more likely to apply what you have just learned.
Then again, you might not be a Christian. What help am I being to you? Well, you could also do that simple task for school/work/your personal life that you have yet to get to. Write that email, find that bank statement, organize your history binder, or sew that hole in your blanket. Get those little things done first so you can focus on the bigger tasks once your brain is fully engaged for the day.
I have one more suggestion for making your morning productive: yoga. Sure, you could hypothetically do any kind of exercise. But doing sit-ups is just boring and, frankly, puts me in a bad mood. Yoga is a far better form of exercise in my mind. Part of the reason why I like it is because there is a practice for every mood. Hate the idea of sweating in the morning? Try a practice that focuses on stretching or on holding relatively easy or relaxing poses. Want a real workout? Do a vinyasa sequence or a series of challenging poses that require a lot of strength (of course, warm up a little first so you don’t injure yourself). Just want something quick and energizing? Do a short sun salutation practice. Exercise in general is a good way to start your morning because you get a boost of energy and it’s good for your health, but I recommend yoga because it is so versatile (and fun!).
Why not wake up earlier in the morning if you can make your mornings enjoyable and productive? Doing so will remove the guilt and that unproductive feeling caused by starting your work at 11 AM, and you will be more likely to fully apply yourself to tasks, unlike when you try to do them at night. So, tomorrow, if you can, wake up earlier that you normally would. Enjoy your coffee (or bemoan your aversion to this heavenly caffeinated drink), try a little yoga, sweep the kitchen floor, read a chapter of your book, figure out just where you put that recipe, or start your morning with prayer and study. After all, mornings should be a time of peace and contemplation.