14 Tips for Waking Up Early for Beginners

  1. Define your why. The first thing I ask people who want to start waking up at 5AM is why do they want to do that? what’s missing that waking up would help them accomplish? Waking up at 5AM is not for everybody, especially not for those who already have the time to work on their self -improvement activities like journaling, reading, planning and so on during the rest of the day. Or those who appreciate their nighttime outings and want the freedom of going out any night of the week without thinking they will wake up at 5AM next day. Write your why. So when you lose your initial enthusiasm your why would remind you. Maybe it would be something like: I don’t want to feel the morning rush ever again. I want to feel I can start my day slowly and with intention. I want to go to work with my to-do list ready. I want to increase my knowledge/self-awareness/muscles.
  2. Work on your evening routine first. Observe your current bedtime and what gets in the way of sleeping on time. How does going out affect your bedtime? Notice your habits of consumption at night, whether content on TV or social media or food or caffeine. It is recommended to cut off coffee 6 hours at least before bedtime in many studies.
  3. Create something to look forward to in the morning. Examples could include fancy coffee or hot beverage or a mug you get especially for this habit. A new shiny notebook and set of pens. An exciting book you want to read. An online course you subscribe to.
  4. Dedicate a corner in your house for your morning time. It could be chair facing a window, it could be your kitchen table or a small desk you get especially to place your morning tools on it. I used an old outdoor table as a makeshift office for years before replacing it with my shiny new office from IKEA few months ago.
  5. Look for or ask some friends to join you in this new habit for accountability and to create momentum. It’s much more exciting when you wake up knowing others are sleepy but awake like you. You can create a whatsapp group and send good morning to each other like I do with my small group. You can also ask to call and wake up each other if you don’t show up on time.
  6. If no one is interested to join your challenge in creating this habit, start a public challenge on your social media announcing your implementation intentions (this early, this many days) and report on your story daily indicating how super early you are and how far you are in the habit. This is how I started and how I recommitted to it.
  7. Speaking of social media, post that update or send good morning your 5am group then put your phone far away for an hour at least to do the things you wake up for. You can’t underestimate the allure of your phone screen and how it will steal precious minutes and attention from you if given the chance. I set appblock on strict mode the night before to guard my morning routine.
  8. Change your alarm ringtone, you got so used to your current one and your body is learning a new habit so it needs a new trigger, Also put your alarm (I’m assuming phone) far from your hand’s reach so you have to stand up and walk to turn if off and you might as well leave the bedroom as planned.
  9. Remember the 5-second rule. When you hear the alarm, count down from 5, 5-4-3-2-1, and launch out of bed like rockets launch into the sky. This would not give enough time for your foggy self-talk to start, which wants you warm and cozy in bed, forgetting and abandoning your budding habit.
  10. If your feel too sleepy after you wake up and want to go back to bed, remind yourself how you would feel in 2 hours if you stay awake and true to your new habit. Like I did once, blast some music in your earphones and do some jumping jacks to wake up that body.
  11. Make your habit rewarding. Use a monthly calendar to cross off each day you wake up with a big fat X. Don’t break the chain of X. Include the X in your social media photo.
  12. Set a reward for yourself when you complete X number of days in a row. Make it so attractive and worthy of your efforts.
  13. Remember it takes an average of 66 days to make a new routine a habit. Keep going. Don’t assume it has become a habit too soon by giving yourself days off way too early. If you quit too soon you might think you are fine and you don’t need it but before you know it the old symptoms that propelled you to start will come back. They will not feel so great.
  14. Prepare for failure. Set a rule that if your break the chain you don’t break it more than 2 days. Don’t let the perfectionist in you say it’s all or nothing (I thank this book for teaching me this). Forgive yourself and jump back to it because your previous efforts are not wasted. New neural pathways are being forged in your brain as you are creating this habit and they will stay there for the days you break the chain as long as you go back.

Anything I missed? What’s your favorite tip? let me know your own secrets to waking up early.

Listen to these tips in Arabic in my podcast The Paradise Project
14 Tips for Waking Up Early for Beginners

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