Trying to find time to cram in a run, a blog post, a study slot, working on your true passion? You’ve probably heard the phrase “just wake up an hour earlier.” Numerous articles highlight “morning rituals” as a crucial part of the day, and a number of successful people swear by the extra hour. For some, getting up a whole HOUR earlier sounds like a stretch – already tough getting to bed at a reasonable time! But is it really that essential- is the spare time spent sleeping really necessary? (if you’re getting 7-8 hours already, it really isn’t). If you can’t get to bed any earlier, consider waking up with a cup of coffee or tea before you get going. And if you’re still doubting the hour, start out with just 30 minutes. For me (struggling most with reflective blog-related consistency), I tell myself I won’t leave my room until the journal has been written in or the blog post has been drafted. This gets me on top of it, using my most productive hour of the day to pursue my passion, before taking on a full-day of classes, cross country practice, and a part-time job. It’s not a long time, but it’s enough.
Amongst just about anything, the most valuable activities that you can add to your routine by waking up an hour earlier include:
1. Exercise – The sooner you get it out of the way (the run, the ab workout, the lifting session, whatever), the sooner you can check it off the list and be done! After that, you’ll feel more energized, fit, and focused for the rest of your day. All you need is 10 minutes or more to reap benefits- anything is better than nothing! Lay out your clothes the night before, get the coffee brewing, and have your workout plan ready to make it easier.
2. Stretch/Meditate – This is something I don’t do enough of – yet it is one of the simplest and easiest things to do when you first wake up. Loosen up in the morning by giving yourself 10-15 minutes to stretch out tight muscles (after 7-8 hours of inactivity, they do need stretching) and put yourself in a meditative state of mind. Relax to your own music (or silence) or try out a pre-recorded meditation such as this one: Meditation for Beginners.
3. Write in a Journal or Blog – Reflection is important, and morning is one of the best times to let out your thoughts in lieu of a positive start to your day. Many successful people (including Tim Ferriss) recommend “The Artists Way” – although I haven’t personally used it (just got started with my “Live In Wonder” journal), it’s next on my list! Buy it on Amazon here: The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal.
4. Food Prep – Many people complain that a lack of time or convenience is the reason for neglecting nutrition – not so. Start out with a healthy breakfast – eggs, a smoothie, something healthy & satisfying. If you’re already into cooking, this is the perfect time to get the kitchen all to yourself! If not, use the time to brush up on your skills by testing out a new recipe or tossing up a simple salad for lunch. You can easily make up all your meals for the day, or next few days, and tuppleware them into the fridge for real convenience AND nutrition. This only takes an hour a week!
5. Get a Head Start on Work – if anything, completing a task to get ahead in your business can be accomplished first thing before you even arrive at work! With the virtual world growing, there is certainly something you can knock out of the way. This first hour of the morning is prime time for entrepreneurs, writers, and the like, as it allows for uninterrupted space to think, write, and produce content. (This doesn’t necessarily mean waking up earlier – just consider using the first 15-20 minutes of your day taking care of the important things).
I guarantee that waking up an hour earlier to do one (or more) of these things will impact your day (and if made consistent, your life!). Getting into the habit of any activity starts with making it a routine – and this is one of the best ways to do that. (If you’re already doing all of these things, then good for you! Maybe an extra hour of sleep is what you need). I used my extra hour this morning to write this blog post 😉