24 hours feels too short of a day for me. One day in Sunday school, when I was little, I heard the story of how God permitted the sun to stay up for another day while Joshua battled the Amorites. While the other kids were listening with eyes sparkling at this fascinating story, I was sitting there thinking, “wow, I would love it if God extended everyday to be double!”
There seems to be so much I want to do and too little time. I want to exercise, play with my dogs, read a book, spend some Quiet Time, pray, cook every meal for my family, chat with my family & friends on the phone, write blog posts, watch some TV shows, have date nights with my husband, play with my phone, spend exploring Target, meet up with girlfriends.. and then procrastinate some. My perfect day would be a little bit of all of these things.
Instead, the reality was that I barely woke up in time to log in for my day job (I am blessed in that I work from home), we were frequently eating out because I didn’t have much time to prepare & cook food, and I was staying up late (until 1-2 AM) to catch up on everything I had planned for the day. I always made an effort to have a routine or at least have a rough schedule, but it felt like I would just barely get a routine going, then a holiday or a church event would come up and derail the whole drill. I’m a pastor’s wife and that sometimes means that I need to help out when times get busy. It’s really a family effort, being part of a ministry.
Naturally, I came to the conclusion that if I can’t give up everything I want to do nor can I give up all of my obligations to my church and family because they bring me more joy and fulfillment than anything else, then the only other choice would be to give up my sleep. That, my friend, is called a painful decision. Because, if you know me, you know that I love my sleep. And I’m already carrying around a sleep deficit on any given day. But, nevertheless, I love my time even more. If God doesn’t supernaturally elongate my day, then I would have to manually make my days longer.
So, I decided to make every day a Saturday for a month.
Hmm, you’re thinking, isn’t Saturday the day you sleep in, get brunch, and catch up on your routine? Well, not for me. My church has an early morning service on Saturdays at 6:00 AM (it’s a Korean church thing), so Saturdays, for me, is when I intentionally sleep early the day before, get up at 5:15 AM, and head out by 5:30 AM. The funny thing is, every week after this morning service is when I head over to Starbucks and become crazy productive. I think I get my best work of the week done there.
That’s why I decided to get up 2 hours early for a month to see if I could replicate that productivity every day. Basically, I “pretended” to be a morning person for 30 days. And the result? Loved it! While I don’t think I could call myself a morning person just yet, I am completely convinced that this is the answer to my dilemma of not having enough hours in the day to do everything I need and want.
What I gained from waking up early
Did you know that if you woke up 2 hours early every day, you would have gained A MONTH after a year?! How crazy is that? Imagine what you could be doing with a whole ‘nother month each year. Still not convinced that choosing your morning over sleep is the way to go? Here’s a list of the benefits I gained from waking up 2 hours early each morning.If you wake up 2 hours early, you'd gain a month after a year - How to Become a Morning Person.Click To Tweet
1. More time
Maybe this is too obvious, but really, you have more time to do the things that matter to you when you wake up early. The first day I woke up early, I sat in my dining room and spent 20 minutes just reading the Bible. Some quality quiet time with the Word. This was something I tried doing almost every day but many times I would end up putting QT off until the evening, then when I finally had time to do it, I would (embarrassingly) doze off.
This time, after QT, I still had an hour and a half to spare to do whatever I wanted! So, for the past 2 weeks, I wrote my very first email mini-course “5 Days to Become a Fearless DIY and Craft Master,” which I would have never been able to do if I hadn’t utilized the extra morning time.
2. 1 Golden hour of maximum productivity & creativity
Like I already mentioned, I feel like I’m able to do more stuff and do them better in the morning. My thoughts are clearer and more focused when there’s the whole day ahead of me and nothing holding me back. In particular, there was that 1 golden hour right before my day started that I felt super productive and creative. I think I got the most amount of work done during that time, which was around 7-8 AM for me.
3. A more intentional, focused day
It seems that too often our day drags us from one agenda to another instead of us taking control of our day. There’s a website I’ve been enjoying lately. MyMorningRoutine.com features detailed interviews with various leaders and entrepreneurs in the industry. Some are parents, some are frequent travelers, and some are even late risers; however, what they all seem to agree on is the fact that a consistent morning routine is essential for setting the tone for the rest of the day.
I noticed that too. When I had time to spare in the morning, it allowed me to gather my thoughts for how I wanted my day to go. I don’t pretend that you can control everything that happens during the day, but I did notice myself making more purposeful decisions that were in line with my goals for the day.
Purposeful Day Planner
To help myself plan out my day in a way that is straightforward, organized, and focused, I made this “Purposeful Day Planner” for my own use. It features the following sections:
- 3 goals for today
- 3 things to get done today
- Meal Plan
- To remember
- 3 things I’m grateful for
- Today’s Bible verse & action item
Note that I intended this planner to be a “fill out and go” type of form. I didn’t include any sections that would require me to come back and revise or update the form (like # of cups of water). It’s really a tool to organize your thoughts rather than a documenting device.
I made the planner in 4 beautiful colors so you can rotate colors every day 🙂 Get your copy by signing up below:
How I became a morning person for 30 days.
Here’s exactly what I did, including practical tips for anyone who wants to try it out.
1. Using a timer, not an alarm
Does your alarm setting look like this?
I had an epiphany that lead me to start this morning person for 30 days challenge. One day, I woke up at 8:00AM, which is the time I “absolutely have to wake up to not be late for work,” and realized that I had slept through all 6 of my alarms (and their snoozes) and didn’t even hear them! I was so used to shutting the alarms off that I had trained myself to completely ignore them. My hand would just automatically reach for my phone before my brain had a chance to wake up. Apparently, I’m not alone because more than half of us do this.
But you know what the funny thing is?
Not once did I wake up later than the time I “absolutely had to wake up.” When the 8:00 AM alarm rang, I would wake up and get ready for work. No snoozing, no spending 30 minutes in bed checking email, no whining, no nothing. I would just get up and get going. I realized that the difference between my 7:30 AM alarm and my 8:00 AM was my sense of urgency. In other words, my willpower.
So when I decided to try the morning-person-for-30 days thing out, I set a timer for the total time I wanted to be in bed and nothing else. I figured that if I only had one alarm, my body would be forced to listen to it.
And it worked! After 7 hours of sleep, I heard the alarm at 6:00 AM and immediately woke up! So, I’ve been doing this since. Once I hit “Start” on my timer, I know there’s no time for anything else. It’s sleep time and I only get 7 hours!
2. No phone in bed policy
I was guilty of spending at least 30 minutes in bed checking social media, watching Youtube, and browsing the web at night and in the morning. So, I implemented a “no phone in bed” policy. If I wanted to check emails in the evening, I would do it before getting ready for bed. If I want to check my Facebook Page or Instagram in the morning, I would do it once I’m out of bed as I’m waiting for the coffee. Since blue light is bad for sleep, this rule should also be good for those of you who have a hard time falling asleep.
3. Designating a morning routine area and keeping it clean
My morning routine area is my dining room. Ever since we installed our chandelier, I have just loved spending time there because it’s so bright and airy. I mentioned this before, but my first floor is basically one big open concept room. So, when I sit in my dining room, I’m overlooking my kitchen, living room, and entrance. It’s the center of my house, so it makes sense that I’m starting and planning out my day there.
I made it part of my evening routine to make sure this area was clean and ready to go in the morning. Besides, what could be more unmotivating than a cluttered work area? By making sure the dining room and surrounding area was clean before heading upstairs to bed, I made sure, come morning, I wouldn’t use “clutter” as an excuse to wriggle myself out of my new routine.
4. Taking power naps, but not getting too comfortable
I’m not going to lie, there were times when I definitely felt like I wasn’t getting enough sleep. One occasional side effect to this 30 day trial was that I would get dozy in the afternoon. I’m not sure if this is because I’m fairly new to the morning person thing. But, right around 3-4 PM was when I felt the most tired. So, when this happened, I would either power through with coffee, or take a power nap!
But if you’re like me, you know all too well what happens when you lay down to take a “power nap.” What you intended to be a 20-30 sleep session usually turns into anywhere between 1-3 hours.
So, what I did was, I took “uncomfortable power naps.” I would stay away from sleeping in bed, and if I did, I wouldn’t get into the sheets. Or, I would just lay my head down on my desk. Anything to help me get that vital 10-30 minutes of sleep, but would prevent me from wanting to keep on sleeping.
Will I continue being a morning person?
While pretending to be a morning person for 30 days came with a few side effects, including a few difficult mornings, drowsy afternoons, and a couple extra cups of coffees, I felt that the benefits far outweighed them all. I appreciated the extra hours of productivity and creativity to do the things that matter to me. In addition, starting out my day without being rushed meant that I was able to plan for my day better and led me to make more mindful decisions throughout the day.
My plan forward? I think I will be sticking to this schedule for now. Since my day was already completely filled with obligations with my day job, caring for my family, ministry, spending time on my hobbies, and blogging, those morning hours were a godsend. I think I could see myself really utilizing those extra hours and streamlining my morning routine.
We’ll see, maybe I’ll be able to call myself a morning person one day!
- MyMorningRoutine.com – My Morning Routine is an independent online magazine that publishes a brand new, inspiring morning routine every Wednesday.
- “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 AM)” by Hal Elrod – A good read for those of us who want to be motivated and pumped up for this change.
- “How to Love Waking Up: A Hands-On Guide to Becoming a Morning Person” by Sam Uyama – This was a very, very short read (only 4o pages) that is to-the-point and offers a couple helpful pointers for forming this new habit.
Are you considering making this change to gain control of your morning? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Make Today Awesome!
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