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Morning Person Habits

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 by admin

The dreaded time change.

I am not a fan of this country’s policy for daylight savings times. It always feels like you leave work at 10pm even though it is 5:30. There are some benefits, like the extra daylight in the early morning hours. I know what you are thinking to yourself, I am not a morning person and dread the alarm clock. I want to offer a few tips in helping to change this habit.

Last year I read a great book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Habit-What-Business/dp/1400069289

This book helps you look at every action in your daily life with a different perspective. It teaches and discusses how to view something as simple as brushing your teeth as a habit that you have learned from an early age.  The key to training yourself to being a morning person is to understand why you are not a morning person. Learning to wake up early is simply a habit that can be re-learned. Any habit has 3 components called the habit loop as discovered by MIT researchers. They are the “Cue”, “Routine”, and “Reward.” The obvious cue for waking up is the alarm. The rewards for exercising are simple: you feel good, you look better, and you can compete better at your races. The routine is what must be adjusted. The tricky part of this process is that your routine can have many variables that will need to be adjusted before you can determine what routine works well for you to create a habit. I like to suggest modifying one item about your routine at a time.

I have become a morning person by default. I had no choice. My professional career did not allow me the luxury of evening workouts. I started my professional career in a job that required me to report to duty at 6:30am every day. Add in a 20 min drive and I was up early even when I didn’t train before work. What I noticed right away was that my body was so tired by the time I got home at 6-7pm I would fall asleep by 8pm – 9pm no matter what. This made it easy to wake up an extra 60 minutes earlier than I needed so I could get in a workout. My routine was adjusted without much intervention.

I would suggest that the number one item to modify about your daily routine to help you become a morning person is to adjust your evening routine as this plays a large role in the morning routine. The goal is to get to bed earlier every night so waking up at 4:30 or 5am isn’t a big deal when you get 7 – 8 hours of sleep. A good method for this is to log everything you do from the minute you walk in the door from work until the time you go to bed. After you have logged what you are spending your time doing, begin to cut out the non-essential items such as TV, reading, internet, facebook, phone calls, etc. I bet this will free up around 1 – 2hrs in the evening. You can then use this free time to help go to bed earlier and also prepare yourself for the morning and day ahead. I suggest packing lunches, packing up workout gear, getting the bike trainer setup, laying out running clothes, prepping the coffee maker, preparing breakfast, etc. the night before.  By doing these task in the evening, it will allow your morning to run on auto pilot. The last thing you need to do when you first wake up is tackle complicated tasks. Make it easy on yourself by having everything you need for your morning at your finger tips. Spend a few minutes the evening before and write yourself a script or sequence of events for the morning. If you know exactly what you are going to do from the minute you wake up till the minute you drive off for work, it will make your morning very efficient and keep you on task.

Once you have worked out a basic framework for all of these items, your next step is to implement the process and try it for 2 – 3 weeks. I can almost guarantee that if you follow your process for this long it will become a habit. The challenge for many is the weekend, this is where you can potentially fall out of your routine. Try to keep a similar routine for your morning along with bed time and wake up calls. This will help make Monday morning much easier. If some of the above tips don’t help, try modifying one other aspect such as the location of your alarm clock or type of alarm clock, or maybe even getting a programmable thermostat to warm up the house on a cold winter day. When you try to determine what to change next, the easiest question to ask yourself is “what don’t you like about waking up early?”



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