I’ve spent a good portion of my life working long and weird hours at newspapers and magazines. Some days I knocked off at 6pm and went on about my evening like a normal person, and other days I’d work a 5pm shift which finished at 1am.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t screw with my internal clock for years, and there were far too many times when it seemed perfectly normal to cook a steak dinner at 3am.
But those days have generally ended (my waistline thanks me) and although I’m no pro at early mornings yet – I can’t for the life of me fathom how some people manage to fit in breakfast, working, dropping off kids, conference calls and exercise all before 9am – I’m seriously keen to join the early birds club.
So, in my bid to end the night owl phase once and for all, I’ve come up with a few pointers to recite to myself whenever I feel like staying up late to do, well, not much at all.
1. Sort out your stuff
If you’re anything like me, you carry multiple bags you around with you everyday. Maybe a briefcase/handbag, as well as a gym bag, and then you might also lug around a laptop.
Do this: As soon as you get home at the end of the day, unpack your bags, and then re-pack them. It will save you time in the morning when you don’t have to feel around for your gym shoes while still half asleep.
2. Plan, plan, plan
Parents will already be good at this, but for people like me who don’t have little mouths to feed each day, it can feel like a real chore to sort out your breakfast, lunch and dinner the day before.
PLAN. I admit I’m not great at this part yet, but there’s something so nice about waking up and simply chucking a Tupperware filled with food into your bag for the day.
3. Stop saying, “I’m just so tired”
Hitting the snooze button simply delays the inevitable, but I’m well aware how good it feels to shut that alarm up.
When the first beep wakes you up, get up (even if you stumble) and open the curtains. Natural light will help your body wake up and you’ll feel like you’re actually able to function like a human being.
4. EAT BREAKFAST, and then exercise
Fellow former night owls are probably really, really bad at this, but there’s nothing better to kick-start your body than much-needed sustenance.
Once you’ve done that, do something active. I’m naturally an after-work exerciser, but I’m slowly trying to change this by switching one work out session from evening to morning. I’ve found it really wakes me up and makes me far less likely to make mistakes when I get to work.
5. Tell yourself you’re beating the competition
Are you a naturally competitive person, whether at work or otherwise? Then tell yourself this every time you’re struggling to get up:
“Getting up at 5.30am is a good thing because I have beaten everyone else at the first competition of the day – waking up.”
And if all this doesn’t do anything for you, perhaps these very successful people will inspire you stop the late nights:
Apple CEO Tim Cook often sends emails when he wakes up at 4.30am, according to Gawker, and he’s at the gym by 5am. He likes being the first one in the office, and the last one out.
Christie’s CEO Steve Murphy takes inspiration from poet William Blake, says Business Insider, who says: “Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night”.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman is up at 6am so he can run on his treadmill in the office and “reflect on the work day ahead,” according to Business Insider.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz must be drinking a lot of coffee to get to the office by 6am, after going on a bike ride with his wife, according to Portfolio.com.
Tumblr founder David Karp told Inc.com he is up early, but tries not to check emails until 9.30am. “Reading e-mails at home never feels good or productive. If something urgently needs my attention, someone will call or text me.”