When I was younger, I was most productive in the wee hours of the morning. On the flipside, I was essentially useless at the beginning of a workday because of my haphazard sleep schedule. Eventually, this caught up with me—both from a professional standpoint, and in general as a poorly functioning member of society.
So over time, I started getting up earlier. And as much as I wish this wasn’t the case, my internal clock is set to wake me up at the crack of dawn every single day, even on weekends. But for those of you who still can’t pull yourself out of bed that early, there are a few ways you can develop similar habits.
From one (former) night owl to another, here are a few suggestions:
1. Eat Breakfast...
But Prep it the Night Before
One of the first things many people will suggest to start your day on the right foot is to eat breakfast. Considering how big of a motivator food can be, this makes perfect sense. But even the simplest meals can seem intimidating to put together first thing in the morning. When I first tried to get into the habit, I couldn’t even be bothered to open a granola bar at 6 AM. “It might not tear the right way,” I’d say to myself, “so why would I even bother?”
But since you’re up late so often, try taking a few minutes before you finally go to sleep to make this easier. For some people, that might mean prepping a few hard-boiled eggs for the following morning or getting a bowl and spoon out for cereal. And for people like me, that probably means tearing open a few granola bars before you turn in for the night.
2. Get Some Exercise...
But Do it on Your Own Schedule
Once upon a time, I vowed to wake up early every morning so I could go to the gym before work. After all, so many people swear by it! But when I attempted this, I almost fell asleep on the treadmill. And as a result, I avoided anything resembling a workout completely—because if I couldn’t get all the AM benefits then I figured it wasn’t worth it.
What I’ve learned since then is twofold. For starters, there are some serious benefits to being active (all those studies and facts are real!). But more importantly, it doesn’t matter when you do it. In my case, I figured out that midday workouts work just fine for me.
It’s perfectly OK if that’s not the case for you, but figure out when you’re most likely to want to work out and start scheduling some sort of activity for that time. You’ll feel more energetic throughout your week—just like all your friends who wake up at the crack of dawn to get their heart rate up.
3. Find Some Quiet Time...
But Schedule it for Right Before You Go to Sleep
How many times have you heard people talk about the benefits of waking up to “enjoy the silence” before starting the workday? Sounds nice, right? Even a few minutes to make yourself a coffee without checking your work email to see what’s waiting for you at the office is something that most night owls should make a priority.
But what if you can’t even get yourself out of bed on time in the first place? You’re probably rushing around to simply get yourself out the door on time, so spending a few minutes in the morning to reflect just doesn’t seem like a possibility.
The easy fix to this is to find this quiet time right before you go to sleep. After all, how many times have you decided it was time to pass out, only to check in on a handful of things that ultimately keep you up for an extra hour?
So while it might look different than it does for the early birds in your life, you can still get this quiet time to yourself—just at a different point in your day.
Getting up early simply might not be in your DNA—and that’s perfectly fine. But there are some undeniable perks that people who can pull themselves out of bed at 6 AM enjoy. While you might not be able to replicate these perfectly, you can make slight tweaks to your schedule to give yourself the same luxuries.
It’ll take some time to get used to these habits, and you’ll probably mess up a few times in the process. But eventually, you’ll adjust to them. And chances are that you’ll be more productive because you’ve been honest with yourself about what works best for you.
Photo of person eating breakfast courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy or follow his blog.More from this Author