The morning is my time. And it can be yours, too.

Sleep is the new broke...Quote by Eric Thomas
Sleep is the new broke. If u only have 24 hours in a day, your success is dependent upon how u spend the 24. -@Ericthomasbtc (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

It’s a dark and dreary morning as I write this, but I am full of life, unlike this time a year ago. That was before I became a morning person. Before I started spending my precious 24 hours each day wiser. Before I got in three good hours of productivity before my family even got out of bed.

I’ve officially been self-employed for the majority of my post-college life. One of the benefits of being self-employed is that, for the most part, I choose my own hours. And, for most of my time, that meant waking up when I wanted to.

What are successful people doing?

That all changed last summer. I learned, like many of you already know, that if you study the lives of the most successful people on the planet, they all wake up early. Before the sun rises.

I realized the truth in the quote above. That my success is dependent upon how I use my 24 hours each and every day.

I used to not be a morning person. I woke up when our daughter woke up, around 8:00 am or later. I would bust it all day long, but I was always playing catch up.

So I started being intentional about when I woke up. I developed a strategy and then learned some things along the way.

3 Things to do Before You Begin

  1. Determine your why. Why do you want to get up earlier? What will you accomplish as a result? What will it do for your family time? Your spiritual life?
  2. Assign specific tasks for this new time. For me, I mostly added new stuff to this time. I added stuff that I wasn’t doing, but wanted to be doing, such as running/working out and writing this blog. For you, it might be knocking out certain projects during this more focused time.
  3. Re-label yourself. If you’ve always referred to yourself as a night owl or that you “hate mornings,” it’s time to change your words. Declare that you are a morning person.

5 Practical Tips for Becoming a Morning Person

  1. Go to bed earlier. This tip is worth what you paid for it. As a matter of fact, you should Tweet this: “Amazing discovery from @MattMcWilliams2: If you want to wake up earlier, go to bed earlier. Changed my life.” (Tweet that…seriously, if you don’t you’ll break the chain and the bald eagle will go extinct). 
  2. Do it gradually. The first day, all I did was set an alarm for 7:59 A.M. Then I woke up three minutes earlier every day until I was up at 7:00. Then I started getting up one minute earlier every day. This allowed my body and mind to slowly adjust.  I wasn’t suddenly waking up at in the dark and spending weeks adjusting. I gave it time, like any new habit.
  3. Fuel your body. I don’t eat breakfast. That is for my time with the family. But I also don’t go hungry. Grab a handful of almonds or other healthy nuts or a piece of fruit (apples are particularly good at waking you up). Drink a lot of water (and allow yourself some coffee or tea as well).
  4. Make it bright. If, like me, your family is still asleep, you’ll spend the first minute or two in the dark, but after that turn on all the lights you can.
  5. Get moving. Except in the heat of summer, I don’t workout or run first thing in the morning. You might. Figure out what routine works best for you. But whether you go for your run or workout or get right to work, I suggest spending at least 3 minutes doing some simple movements to get your blood flowing. My five minute warm-up consists of jogging in place, push-ups, jumping jacks, and a few stretches. Then I am good to go.

Last tip: Don’t be militant about it.

Give yourself grace when you miss a day. Or a week. Another revolutionary tip (like “Go to bed earlier”): If you go to bed late for some reason, sleep in a bit.

I give myself a break when I am sick or otherwise missed out on sleep. I slept in all week two weeks ago because I had a cold. My body needed more rest. It was not the time to push it. The extra sleep helped me recover. I did the same thing when I returned from a trip to California recently. I slept in until almost noon the next day.

What it’s done for me 

Since waking up earlier, I have:

  • Started and maintained a daily blog.
  • Hit my monthly numbers goals with each client every month.
  • Trained for and run a 10k (from not running at all). Half marathon next!
  • Learned to love the sunrise.

I love what I do each morning now. My day starts with purpose and direction. And it never lets up.

What about you?

What can you do by becoming a morning person?

Perhaps you will:

  • Write the book you’ve always wanted to write.
  • Go back to college and study during this time.
  • Spend time more with God.
  • Join or start a mentoring group.
  • ____________________ (fill in the blank)

Make morning the most exciting part of the day!

What can you do by becoming a morning person? If you are already, what tips do you have for those who aren’t yet?

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17 thoughts on “How I Became a Morning Person…And You Can, Too

  1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    I go in stages of being highly productive in the early am… and then I back off for a while. I am always happiest when I get back in the early am routine.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I’m with you. I take days off at least once every 3 weeks and even a few weeks a year off for vacation or sickness. And I always sleep in on Sundays and holidays. So really, I’m only getting up 90 minutes earlier than I need to about 2/3 of the days. That’s not that much.

  2. Carol Dublin says:

    I’m totally a morning person, but last year I started getting up even earlier, and am so much more productive and happy now. I spend time reading my Bible and in prayer, writing my blog or journaling, and running (which ends up being more prayer time most mornings). By the time I have breakfast and get ready for work, I’m at peace and ready to face the day. And yes, aren’t sunrises wonderful?

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I almost miss the sunrise up here this time of year. On June 22 it will actually rise right when I get up (5:30). We only have like 8 hours of darkness each day in June. So I love the late summer when it doesn’t rise until 6:30-ish and I get to see it rise when I am writing or running.

  3. Somerset Penworks says:

    I get up early so I can get home early. Here’s what my day looks like:

    4:30AM phone alarm goes off. Kiss wife, roll over, get out of bed. Morning ablutions.
    5:15AM Leave for work.
    6:00-6:20AM Arrive at work (40 mile drive)
    3:00PM Leave for home.
    4:00PM-4:15PM Arrive home.

    This gives me plenty of my day to hang with the kids, work on homework, catch up on their day, my wife’s day, help with dinner, and the thousand other little things that happen while the sun’s still up and before their 7:30PM bedtime. And most days, I’m headed for bed between 9 and 10.

    I do sleep in a bit on the weekends, if 7AM can be considered sleeping in….

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is awesome Bret. I realized yesterday when I took off from 11:00am to 2:00pm that I could not have done that if I had not gotten in 4 hours of real work already. I got to spend 3 hours in the middle of a beautiful day with my family. Priceless.

  4. Christine Niles says:

    I used to be violently allergic to mornings, but about two years ago I did a lot of the things you suggest (although I jumped into a 5AM alarm cold turkey–no one has ever accused me of being patient…) to take my dream of writing seriously.

    Like you, going to bed a bit earlier was the most important key. Using a timer on the coffee pot was #2–if the coffee was already hot and ready at 5, I was FAR more likely to get up.

    Last winter, I fell off the “morning wagon” due to a long season of insomnia, and I’m horrified at what I’m *not* getting done now that I’m sleeping ’til 7 or 8.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Sorry to hear about the insomnia Christine. I hope that you figure that out soon.

      I am similar with my tea (no coffee). If it’s already made and I can get a little in me quickly, the day starts off better. Right about when I hit the first wall of the day (about 45 minutes after I wake up), the caffeine kicks in.

  5. Thanks for this more motivition to set the alarm earlier. I’m working towards it slowly. Right now my schedule is to mediate for 30 mins, journal for 15, go to the gym, work by 8. Need 30 mins more to work on my blog, which I’m not making time for.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Try waking up 2 minutes earlier each day for 3 weeks. At the end of the first week, you bought 10 minutes. Some is better than none. And in 3 weeks, you eased into a new routine.

      Or even 1 minute a day for 6 weeks. I’d rather see you ease into it and succeed than fall flat and give up.

      1. Sounds like a good plan

  6. I hate to be the fly in the ointment – but what is the difference. If I go to bed at midnight and get up at 8:00 or go to bed at 10:00 and get up at 6:00 am – I still get 8 hours sleep. To me it is what you do with the hours you are up that counts. I love the evenings – I am more creative, more reflective and relaxed. Once the family is cared for my evening is my own. I study, read, pray and write. I think the world is too caught up with the morning. God never sleeps so it matters not to Him. I am not my best in the morning and I want to give my best to God. Being a morning person is wonderful – the world is your oyster, especially in business. As long as I meet my obligations and family needs, being a night owl is not something I feel needs to be changed, like I am not disciplined or something. (Thank goodness for those that work well at night – nurses, doctors, police and fire, etc.) Again, it is what you do with the hours. I think many rather get up early than sacrifice TV time in the evening. 🙂 I often wonder if the Lord could have done with a few night owls in the Garden when He asked if they could pray with Him. But no – they all fell asleep. Too bad – missed an opportunity. Ok – tongue in cheek – but I get sensitive about everyone trying to change me. Give me the still, cool, calm wee hours of the morning over a sunrise. Hey – I still get the sunset!! I admire anyone who can discipline themselves not matter what time of day.

    1. Don´t get defensive on me, but going to church most people go in the morning bay be is a way of God telling us to put the alarm clock about 7a.m which is my time to get out of bed. Found good to rise up early especially since I´m unemployed(27,2%unemployment in Spain,I´ve tried everything for a year and a half, still am) had to find a purpose which is restart my writting after a ten year hiatus of not writing, and become aware to myself that it´s not all about 8 hour shift to be productive in life. Be more aware about things out there and willing to “knowledge my self up”. My typical day, most of the days.
      7a.m-wake up, turn on computer,drink my tea, while I check my inbox in mails-yes it´s plural I have 3 different accounts+twitter. Just found out this computer thing can give me a lot of knowledge, better late than never.
      9a.m- feed dogs, clean their poopoos from the garden, water plants,clean my mother´s house(she´s in hospital) I´m back at my childhood house at age 30! At least I can save up money when some odd job comes my way.
      10a.m-after checking my e-mails always live a comment no matter if people don´t comment back it´s a way for me to even think more about the subject posted while I write it down.
      11a.m-2:00pm read people that follow me on blog, comment,read other´s I follow, comment, expand my blogging world by reading all kinds of different things, Knowledge my self up.
      2p.m-2:30pm-go for a run.
      2:45-5pm-eat(it´s Spain) and watch t.v
      5p.m-9:30pm read about writing techniques and WRITE,on my little stories, and blog.
      Then dinner and t.v, most of the time it´s a toss between history channel,national geographic(always have my little notebook on hand to write interesting phrases or ideas) and sorry for some people watch FOX news. My friends here don´t understand that I call this work so I´m becoming a bit of a hermit. Still can´t get enough thinking that I should be more able to write better and read more on writing and reading books of good writers find a way to gain an income on line and become self-employed.
      I do have to say to Matt that yes, you are right when I asked too much t.v? and replied with a big and powerful YES. As I´m writing this I find it the time for watching t.v can be used in reading more good authors. Or play more with the dogs instead of just feeding them and living them, that´s why they´re such a pain since they are always coming to me while I´m at the computer, looking and growling at me while they move their tale, they want me to go outside and play with them.Or get more out of the house for a couple of hours to go someplace(still don´t know, but I´ll figure it out, the logistics are kind of complicated).

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      I actually like your line about the disciples Lulu. Perhaps you have merit and saying we need both kinds 🙂

      For me and others it was all about statistics. The statistics show that early risers get more done, make more money, and are generally happier. Now that could also be true of left-handed people for all I know, and there is nothing I can do about that, so…

      Based on that research, many people WANT to be early risers but they struggle with it. I’ve yet to meet a person who said, “I wish I could stay up two hours later. I just really struggle with that.”

      It’s always, “I really struggle with going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier.”

      So, this is a way of presenting the facts and then saying to those who want to do it “here’s how.”

      It worked for me because I tried it for 8 weeks. That’s like 0.005% of my life. If it didn’t work, I could always go back to the other way 🙂

  7. Jon Stolpe says:

    I would say that I’m definitely a morning person. I wake up at 4:30AM most days. I’m running by 4:50AM. I’m back at home in time for breakfast and other activities that help me prepare for my day. And I leave the house at 7:00AM for the office. My best advice is to try it for a few weeks. It will change your life. Your tips above are excellent.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is good advice…just try it. If it doesn’t work for someone, it’s all good.

  8. Steve Pate says:

    thanks for this great post! i needed to read this!

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