For over a decade, I worked market hours—on the West Coast—which meant waking up between 4 and 5 AM. Every day. I don’t care how much you love mornings, that schedule will take its toll, and I can say from experience, it’s hard not to let that show in the office.
No matter how much your colleagues may share your dislike for the early morn’, it’s generally not a good idea to show your pain and suffering too much. Fortunately, after a decade of practice, I pretty much nailed faking my adaptability to mornings. Here’s how I did it:
1. Shower Every Morning
When I first started dragging myself to the office before the sun came up, I decided it’d be clever—and time-saving—to shower the night before. While this did give me a few extra minutes of snooze time every morning, it did nothing to awaken my senses.
It took a late night out with friends one Wednesday night for me to realize showering in the morning was the ticket. I’d been out too late to have the energy to shower that night, and I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier the next morning. Incredibly, that hot shower not only woke me up but somehow washed away the lethargy and disguised the lack of sleep I was definitely suffering from.
Yes, it takes a bit more time, but jumping in the shower has a way of shocking your system and getting your circulation going. If you absolutely can’t get yourself into the shower, then at a minimum do a thorough scrubbing of your face in the sink and finish off with a splash of cold water. You’ll look and feel more awake than you would if you’d simply rolled out of bed.
I consider myself to be a fairly cheerful person, but commuting in the dark every morning had a way of taking the spring out of my step. I’d show up to work with a pained look on my face, eyes barely open, and nary a smile to be seen on my face.
Then one morning, while on my first of many coffee runs, my barista looked me squarely in the eyes, smiled, and brightly wished me a good morning. Her warmth immediately put me in a good mood, and I realized that if she could do it—the shop opened before I got to work—I could, too. So, I tried it when I got back to the office. I started smiling at everyone (genuinely), and guess what? By the time of my usual second coffee break, I realized I didn’t need the extra pick-me-up. Not only that, but my colleagues seemed to be in better moods as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way suggesting you nix your coffee habit—in fact I’d advise against any abrupt caffeine disruptions—but adding a little cheer to your face can do wonders, both for you and your colleagues.
3. Dress Up
I know. The last thing you want to do when you can barely say your own name is coordinate a sharp looking ensemble. When I first started working the early hours, I was lucky if I could wear a matching pair of shoes, let alone a coordinated outfit.
Then one morning, when I was feeling particularly comatose, I remembered what a friend’s mother told me when I was in high school: “Whenever you’re feeling a bit off, slap on some lipstick, do your hair, and wear something nice. It’ll instantly improve your confidence.” I’d tried it hundreds of times throughout my educational career, and it worked wonders. I figured it’d probably work well in the office, too, and boy was I right.
Sure, sometimes I had to pick out my clothes the night before due to my lack of coordination and motor function in the morning, but as soon as I managed to get myself dressed, I immediately felt more alert and ready for the day.
As much as I love my coffee, it can’t do the whole job for you. Try these tricks for a week (in addition to your preferred caffeine fix), and I’m willing to bet your colleagues will be asking you what you’ve been eating for breakfast.