Getting up on time can be difficult for many reasons. I struggle with this most when I have no specific plans for the day ahead. I’ve never been someone who overslept when he had an appointment early in the day. The issue came with being able to schedule my work hours myself. And the problem can get amplified when we work from home.
At the end of my master's degree, I used to show up in the office anywhere between 9 and 10, and would often stay late to get my work in. Since there were no fixed work hours and only the occasional planned meeting, there was nothing stopping me from doing that. However, I didn’t feel good about it and longed for a more regularly scheduled day.
Here’s the simple system that helped me incrementally move my wake-up time forward until I consistently got up at 4:30 on workdays.
Your goal might not be to get up at 4:30. But if you press the snooze button more often than you would like to, this is for you.
This is your regular alarm in your bedroom. That’s where most people end with their wake-up system. Set it to go off five minutes before you want to get up. I used my wristwatch for that purpose.
This is a second alarm clock that you put in another room (but within earshot). I used to place it in the bathroom next door. Set it to go off five minutes after the first one. Chose a really annoying and loud alarm sound, one you would like not to go off at all. It’s good if you’re worried that it might wake up your neighbors or freak out your dog. (I used to worry about the neighbors because I lived in an apartment with really thin walls.) Because of this, you’re more likely to jump out of bed as soon as your first alarm goes off. That way you can get to the second alarm in time and turn it off BEFORE it goes off.
Once you’ve turned the second alarm off—STAY UP! Go to the bathroom and splash enough cold water in your face or whatever it takes. Under no circumstances let your mind convince yourself that it's a good idea to go back under the blanket, or to even lie down again. That will not work. Your mind is just trying to trick you. I know it sounds like a good idea on an early morning and you will tell yourself that you’ll only stay in bed for another five minutes. Don’t believe your mind with this.
Do something else instead. That’s where additional habits come in handy. If you have a plan for what to do next, you can get right to it. Maybe you want to do something energizing like exercising, or something quieter like writing into your journal or meditating. Setting up a morning routine can help you with this. I used to start with a mindfulness meditation session, before journaling and exercising.
There you have it. A simple three-step process to getting up when you plan to do so. Set your two alarms and don’t let your mind trick you into getting back to bed again.
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