How to Be an Early Bird When You are so Not a Morning Person

To be honest, my 5:45 alarm in the morning is probably the worst sound in the world. I have, on more than one occasion in the past 7 days, lay in bed trying to think of a good excuse to stay there. Usually I come up with nothing. I envy morning people, they're bright eyed and awake when I roll in with my coffee in one hand and a giant do-not-disturb sign across my face. But you don't need to be a morning person to be an early bird, that is, someone who gets a lot done in the mornings instead of wasting them away to googling the answer to that question I thought of at 2am last night (though it is so tempting). It's taken me years, but I think I finally cracked it. 

 Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

1. Go to the gym in the morning

There is something pretty fantastic about starting your day with the gym. I always feel good when I walk into work on the days that I've spent 30 minutes or so working out first. Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don't kill their co-workers for getting the last cup of cold brew. They just don't. Working out in the morning significantly decreases the amount of time that I have to talk myself out of going. Usually, I'm already dressed so might as well. It also provides a few minutes of head-clearing time, which is in short supply when it comes to New York.

 Yes, this might mean getting up earlier, but when you have a step between bed and work you probably have more room in your brain by the time you get there. Or, you can get up at that earlier time every day and bank some extra time in the mornings at the office. It was just a suggestion put those pitch forks away.

If that's not going to work for you, try adding in a walk before work. If you ride public transit and can get off a few stops earlier, take ten minutes to walk there in the fresh (hopefully not frigid) air. You're going to be thinking about plenty once you get there, so use that time if you can.

2. Coffee coffee coffee! But first, water water water!

There are many blogs out there that will tell you to cut out coffee. They're probably right, but honestly, don't be bringing that negativity around here. I dream about my latte  on my walk to work every morning. It's probably bad for me, but so is pasta and I'm not giving that up anytime soon. What's that about moderation? One small cup of coffee a day won't kill me, at least any faster than all that pasta will. The thing about coffee that can be misleading is how dehydrating it is. Especially in this warm weather when I'm fighting people to get the office cold brew, I often crave coffee when really what my body is trying to tell me I need is water. So here's my rule, I have to drink 1-2 cups of water before I start on my coffee. That's about half of my water bottle and it motivates me to drink along the commute to get it down by the time I get to work. That way I'm not further dehydrating myself and I start the day with roughly 16 oz, which is a nice dent in my goal. 

3. Get your mind right

This super vague piece of advice is just that, super vague, because it's different for everyone. The important thing is figuring out what kind of work starts your day off best. For me, it's a couple of things. First I check my email to make sure the world hasn't exploded overnight. Spoiler: it has. But it probably isn't so urgent that the rest of the world has to stop too. If there's something that needs my immediate attention, I know about it and I don't have to worry about what's waiting for me when I open my email. If it helps to get to inbox zero, or triage your emails to reduce the anxiety that ever-growing number causes, do that. Then I try my hardest to do something creative or problem-solving based. If I'm lucky, that's writing or working on a presentation. Some days it's thinking through something in a report or for a recommendation. The most important thing is that I'm tapping into that creative side of my brain before I get lost in excel. It sets me up for a good day.

4. Use your brain

I know I said to clear your head, and you should do that too, but you should also use your brain. Like the little old ladies doing crosswords to keep their minds sharp, find something simple to do over breakfast or on your commute that keeps your mind sharp. I like to read on the train, usually on my phone's kindle app. For the most part, I read YA and lighter fiction, to keep myself from getting distracted, saving mysteries and classics for nighttime. You can play puzzle games like Suduko on your phone or listen to a savvy podcast about an interesting topic. No offense MBMBAM, but now's not the time for that. Chances are, from the time you woke up through getting ready, your brain was all but on sleep mode. I know mine was. Wake it up gently.and it'll be ready to go when you actually need it. See: all those emails about the world exploding.

You do not have to be a morning person to be an early bird. All you need is to find out what works for you and commit to it. I'm finishing my water right now, and trust me, I want that coffee. But it's 8:30 am and I'm knocking one huge item off my to-do list despite the fit I threw getting out of bed this morning. That's what it's all about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've earned that coffee.