1. Prep your coffee, or your outfit, or anything else small that you usually do in the morning.
I used to budget a certain amount of morning time for small morning tasks like making coffee (and waiting for it to brew), or picking out an outfit to wear. But automating the morning-coffee task and laying out clothing options the night before gives me back a solid 20 minutes of time in the morning that I can use to get a head start on tasks for the day, sleep a little extra, go for a longer run, or just relax before the day gets busy.
2. Get your work done.
I’ve fallen into the trap of convincing myself that I’ll get up early to finish the thing that I don’t feel like finishing at night, only to sleep through my morning alarm and find myself scrambling at the last second to accomplish everything minutes before it is due. Sometimes, it is worth it to push yourself a little bit at night, sip a beverage to keep yourself awake, and get it done so you can enjoy a restful sleep and not have to worry in the morning. However, this isn’t always true — which leads me to my next tip.
3. Don’t get your work done.
Sometimes, pushing yourself to complete work late at night in a foolish attempt to give yourself a few extra minutes to sleep in the morning totally backfires. Sometimes, it is better to just go to sleep and wake up a bit early to finish any work that needs to be done in the early A.M. to avoid turning in anything to your professor or boss that is mediocre and clearly written in a sleepless midnight stupor. You’ll be much less anxious in the morning knowing that you’re handing in work that is your best work, and not some bullshit that you threw together when you were hardly conscious. Be honest with yourself about how late it really is, and your actual chances of being able to get up in the morning — if it’s so late that you know you’ll be dead in the morning, power through it. If it’s only sort-of late, and you could force yourself up at 6 AM, wait and do it with clear eyes.
4. Set your alarm, but don’t set like, 30 of them.
I’ve noticed a growing trend of people setting their alarm to go off every five minutes for an hour before they actually have to wake up, and to be honest, I find it highly ridiculous. If you know you’re the kind of person who has a hard time waking up, you’re probably doing this to help wake your body slowly, and prevent yourself from sleeping through the alarm. However, it is very likely that the hour of stressful, disrupted sleep before getting out of bed is actually hurting you way more than it is helping you. My advice would be to set two alarms: one about 10 minutes before you want to get up, and one at the exact time you want to wake up. And don’t let your snooze button be an option. Set the first and second alarm at night knowing that they are at realistic times and give yourself no other mental option than to wake up for them. Put your alarm far away from you if you have to — it really works.
5. Write tomorrow’s To-Do list, and put it somewhere you can see it.
Figuring out everything I need to accomplish tomorrow is my favorite thing to do before going to bed. That way, I’m already sort-of thinking about the things I need to do, and can mentally prepare myself for getting started on it all once I wake up. If I forget to do this at night, a good chunk of my morning is spent in a coffee-less daze at my desk trying to remember what I need to do that day, and where I should start. I’m a firm believer in getting a head start on things whenever possible.
6. Pack up everything you need in the morning, if you have to leave your house.
On days that I’m going to school, or working outside of my home, my least favorite thing is to scramble around all morning feeling anxious that I forgot to throw something in my bag that I’ll need for the day. I usually have a list of all the things I need to bring with me when I’m going somewhere, but I also like to have my school bag or laptop bag packed up with every charger, notebook, handout, etc. that I might need during the day, before I even fall asleep. That way, when I wake up, I know that everything is already where it needs to be: packed up, and waiting for me to bring it to our destination. It takes the guesswork out of my morning routine and helps me to never (or rarely) forget things.
7. Put a glass of water next to your bed.
I don’t know if this is exclusive to me, but especially during these hot summer months, I wake up in the middle of the night thirsty all the freaking time. I’ve made a habit out of putting a glass of water next to my bed every night in order to remedy this issue, because waking up thirsty and leaning over to sip some bedside agua is much easier than getting up, turning on lights, and losing sleep in the process. I’ll do pretty much anything to prevent myself from being awake for more than 30 seconds during the night, because when my sleep gets even a little disrupted, my mornings are totally miserable.
8. Study/read/look over important information.
Your kind little brain is going to do you a favor and take care of your thoughts while you sleep. Just look over the important stuff for a bit, and tomorrow it should all be there, and perhaps even be a little better sorted than it was when you fell asleep.
9. Give yourself a morning activity to look forward to.
Mornings are really hard for some people, but scheduling in a morning activity, or something else to look forward to — like your favorite cereal for breakfast, an early walk with your puppy, or some chill-time watching CNN — makes it feel a little easier and more manageable. Mornings can be busy, especially when you have somewhere you have to get to really early, but making a few of the hectic morning-moments somewhat pleasurable makes it feel a little less like a “workday” and a little bit more like just another day.
10. Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
This one is obvious, but it is no secret that it is harder to wake up when you haven’t slept at all. And the thing is, you pretty much have to wake up (unless you want to be late for school, or work), so you might as well do your gentle bod the favor of knocking out a little earlier. Go to sleep, you weirdo. Stop watching Netflix until 2 in the morning.
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