As of this week I have officially become a morning person. Not by choice entirely, but more due to circumstance.
I was selected recently to take part in a temporary detail for my organization’s head office, which happens to be located in Washington DC. Luckily for me this opportunity is VIRTUAL; however, I still have to manage the time zone difference. I want to talk about both the WHY and the HOW I found myself up before the crack of dawn, because honestly it’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do. Sure, from time to time, I’ve done little “bursts” of trying to get up early for various reasons, but it’s never been something I’ve consistently stuck to, and certainly not for any duration quite as long as this detail (120 days). To be completely honest, I was pretty nervous about if I could even attempt to be a functioning human that early, and I dreaded it. I think it’s ok to be honest about our feelings and fears around things, and I certainly had to manage my own expectations.
1. My “why” is a multitude of reasons, the primary being that it is tied to my job, and my income. I NEED to get up early because this is my livelihood. This opportunity is a truly rare one, and being up early is something I had to commit to as a part of the “job” so to speak. Did my lead/team make me get up at 4am? No. They did offer me more of a (local) 6am option, but I volunteered to start at 5am because (in my mind) really, what’s the difference in starting at 5 versus starting at 6.
2. I want to be a part of the team. I believe it is imperative to set the tone for my work ethic and teamwork mentality, and in order to do that I have to actually be a part of the team. I can’t miss the meetings that everyone else is attending just because it’s a temporary assignment. I am especially glad I chose 5am start, because even in just the few days so far that I have been working this detail, there’s been MANY meetings that have occurred before 6am, and some really important ones that have been scheduled right AFTER when I would have been starting; it feels good to be included in ALL the meetings and to feel like I’m really taking part in the discussions that are necessary for me to get up to speed.
3. I COULD get up at 5am and “hit the ground running” – especially since it’s a remote opportunity, BUT one thing I have learned about myself in this “covid time” of working from home is that I need some “pre-work” time to get my mind right, clear the dust from my eyes, and really, truly function. More about this in the “how” section to come, but I now recognize the importance of giving myself that cushion of time before my “work clock” starts. This job has me hitting the ground running at full speed, most all the day, and that in itself is enough to encourage me to get my brain juices flowing in advance. I have so much I’m learning and trying to absorb that it would be damn near impossible for me to just log in and start listening to calls or taking things in well.
4. I like a challenge. If you read my blog, you know I have embarked on many an “experiment” and sought opportunities to “stretch” myself, physically, mentally and emotionally. I think that learning to try new things and set new “habits” can be extremely surprising and fun, and I like the idea of pushing myself outside of my established norms. Will I keep it up forever? Who knows, but at least I know I can for 116 more days.
1. You might laugh at me, but hey a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do – and that (for me) meant doing some research! I scoured the old youtube and asked people I know personally who have done it, and the first thing I can say really stuck/resonated with me was “when you get up early, your day starts the night before”. This made SO much sense to me and I really appreciated the idea of planning so I could set myself up for success. What does this look like for me?:
a. I set up my coffee machine (on a timer) to brew at 3:55am. I LOVE me some coffee and I NEED that cup in the morning! Not much will get me out of bed as lovingly as the smell of fresh coffee brewing. The scent of coffee wafting into my room when my alarm goes off at 4am truly makes a world of difference for my motivation to get out of bed.
b. I set my alarm. Then I set another. I have my phone alarm, which I love, but I also have a special alarm that doesn’t actually make noise. I chose this “sunrise mimicking” alarm clock and I just set it to gradually start lighting up around 20 minutes before 4am. I don’t have sounds playing on it (I use my phone for the noise) but having “the lights” already turned on when my alarm goes off is SO helpful for me when it’s still so dark out at 4am. I don’t have to fumble for the lamp, or resist the temptation to lay in the dark for “ten more minutes” – I can use that light to get up, go turn on my larger lights in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, which is super helpful in my apartment given the setup.
c. With that alarm situation, I also have a reminder on my phone (iPhone) to give me a “bedtime” alert. I aim to be in bed and ready to sleep by 8:30pm, and this gives me a warning 45 minutes prior so I can wrap up whatever I’m doing, get showered and stuff, and actually make it to bed on time. I chose the window of 8:30pm – 4am by (again) researching. I looked through my “sleep logs” on my phone health app for the past 3 weeks and saw what my patterns were looking like. How much sleep did I get? How much did I need? I settled on 7.5 hours because I wanted to ensure I was getting enough to not feel TOO sleepy the next day, but also not feel that lethargic slump that comes from sleeping too much.
d. In the evening I also choose my morning Peloton bike ride for the following day. I have found that a quick 20-minute ride helps me wake up, get the blood flowing and ensure I’m not just plopping into my calls/workstation “cold” and not alert. I like to peruse the classes the night prior and “schedule” the class for 4:15am. The class won’t start without me hitting the button, but something about knowing the class is “scheduled” and waiting helps me get in the mindset of showing up for it. I turn my bike on as soon as I get up, and it has a little countdown clock that starts about 5 minutes before my scheduled class, so that bright red countdown ticker gives me a little added pressure.
2. With the “evening prep” there’s the actual morning routines. In researching I kept hearing over and over about “decision fatigue” and how it is really beneficial to keep your decision making to a minimum.
a. I don’t have to be “dressed up” for my virtual job, so I can easily toss on some clothes/sweats and not worry about what I look like so much. I leave my workout clothes on my bike so I can grab them and get dressed for my workout as quickly as possible, with my bike shoes right beside the bike.
b. I make sure to start my morning with a mix of my green juice powder, 4oz of coconut water, and 4oz of apple juice. This mix helps me get through my Peloton ride, and gives my body/system a nice jolt of something besides coffee to start my day. While I love my coffee, I recognize that after a night of sleeping, my intestines need some rehydration and some love, so I like to try and at least have my green juice, or a glass of water before I allow myself coffee.
That’s all I do to get up at 4am, for now, but I’ve definitely found that by really putting focused effort into making my routine solid and streamlined, it’s honestly not as bad of an experience as I thought it was going to be. Hope this helps if you’re trying to incorporate some earlier rising into your days!