Rodrigo Hänggi

April 11, 2012

Waking up early

Getting up early can be a great way to help you establish a daily routine which is the first step to becoming more productive. Here I present you 10 tips that helped me in becoming an early riser.

1) Get up - The most important step is to get up. Actually not just get up, literally try to jump out of bed. After your alarm rings get up instantly, go to another room and turn on the lights. Getting out of bed quickly rips you out of the cozy zone and you’re less likely to fall asleep again.

2) Don’t listen to that voice in your head - You know, the one that always tells you: “Just 10 more minutes of sleep won’t hurt right? We will definitely get up after that.” Just don’t listen to it. Be aware that it is there and tell it to shut the fuck up.

3) Stop drinking coffee - This was also a big game changer for me. Believe me when I say: coffee is not good for you. And this is coming from an ex-junkie. It took me a month of living with withdrawal symptoms and headaches to get over the addiction. The pain payed off and I am feeling better than ever. I feel more awake / aware during the day and have no problem falling asleep in the evening like before. You won’t take my word for it? You are not so smart has a great writeup about the effects of coffee. Go read it now!

4) Plan your day the night before and have a reason to get up - Having a clear goal for getting up early is essential. One good way to do it, is to write down the most important things that you want to accomplish the next morning on a piece of paper. Try to be conscious about it as you write them down. If you can get yourself even a little bit excited about the things that you will accomplish the next day, waking up early won’t be a problem at all.

5) Keep track of your success - Get one of these big paper calendars (or print one out using iCal). Got one? Great! Now let’s play a simple game. Mark each day where you accomplish getting up early with a big red cross. If you slept in or got up later than you planned, leave the day blank. Hang the calendar up in a place where you will look at it at least 5 - 10 times a day and try to get as many successions of the red cross as possible. Believe me, this simple trick works wonders. Not just for getting up early, but also for establishing all sorts of habits.

6) Wake up at the same time, got to bed when you feel tired - One important thing is to adjust your going to bed time and NOT your wake up time. Try to constantly get up at the same time and go to bed depending on how tired you are. Just listen to your body.

7) Be productive in the morning - So you finally did it for once and are wide awake at 05:00 AM? Great! Now just don’t blow your success by surfing Facebook or Hacker News as the first thing in the morning. Use the extra time and do something with that fresh mind of yours!

8) Completely remove the option - Another trick that can also work if you lack some self discipline is to remove the option of sleeping in completely. Schedule a meeting with a client, or go jogging with a friend very early in the morning and voila - you can’t sleep in.

9) Find a good morning buddy - Doing experiments like this is always hard. Share the idea with people around you and see if somebody is interested in trying it out too. Tell each other about your experiences, what worked and what didn’t. Doing things together with other people is always more fun. Even if it’s crazy shit like getting up at 4 AM in the morning.

10) Focus on it - Having a big goal like getting up early every day is something great. Especially if you can accomplish making a habit out of it. The main reason for failure is that most people try to tackle multiple big goals like this all at once. I’m not saying that it it’s impossible, but it certainly is very hard and the failure rate is high. Try to concentrate on one big goal for 30 days and try to make a habit out of it. It will greatly increase your chance of success.