For some mysterious reason, waking up early is one of the hardest habits to cultivate – not just for me, but for almost anyone I know. Here are 21 tips you can use to wake up early and stay up. The ones which work best for me are #1, #9 and #12 :
Create a compelling reason to wake up early. What is it? For personal activities? To get more work done? To get a head start in your day? Almost all attempts to wake up early fail because there isn’t a strong enough reason driving this habit change. I can personally attest to this – during the days when I want to wake up early just for the sake of it, I fail miserably. However, when there is a compelling enough reason to do so (such as for an appointment – tip #12), I am able to, no matter how sleepy I am. If you really want to wake up early, you need to first have a strong reason on why you want to do it.
Cut out the stimulants that affect your sleep schedule, namely caffeine and alcohol. These mess around with your sleep and quality of your sleep, which subsequently affects your waking time.
Make a transition. If you always wake up at 10~11am, it isn’t too realistic to expect that you will immediately wake up at 5am the next day. Start off by improving your waking time by 15~30min every day until you reach your goal.
Create a reward for accomplishing this goal. A reward creates additional motivation. (Though if you satisfy #1 and have a compelling enough reason to wake up early, a reward wouldn’t be necessary.)
Place your goal in a prominent spot: Environmental reinforcement of your goal will embed it consciously and subconsciously into your mind. If you have a notice board, you can put up your goal on the board. Other options are to stick it up on a post-it note in front of your computer or set it as your wallpaper.
Create accountability to others. Share your goal with friends/family/acquaintances. This creates accountability on your end to wake up
Plan a non-negotiable agenda for the next day. This agenda should start right from the point you are supposed to wake up right till your day ends. If you don’t wake up, you will mess up your schedule for the day and end up with a backlog of work at the end.
Create urgency # 1. Set up extremely important and urgent tasks as the first items of the day so you have to wake up and finish them.
Create urgency # 2. Fix an appointment with someone early in the morning. It should be with someone really important whom you cannot cancel on or there will be dire consequences. This is by far one of the most effective methods for me. However, if you have a chronic disability to wake up early, please try other methods first. You don’t want to risk ruining your reputation and your relationship with the person if you end up oversleeping. There were times when I overslept for appointments and it would be tricky to deal with the situation each time. Nowadays, I make absolute sure that this doesn’t happen at all.
Get a morning call service. Some services are: iPing and Wake Up Land. Or you can ask someone whom you know will be awake at that time to call you.
Work on the goal with someone else. If you have a friend who wants to wake up early too, this will help generate more motivation to wake up early.
Sleep earlier. Be realistic – if you target to wake up at 5am, don’t turn in at only 1am or 2am the night before expecting to be successful in waking up on time. You are more than likely going to crash in your goal.