in Leadership

I am a night owl by preference. I love to stay up late dreaming dreams that I will probably never realize and building a sleep deficit. It feels as though I’m taking on the world and getting more done by staying up late.

But recently, I realized that my sense of productivity at night far outstripped the reality. I spent much of my night-owl time dreaming and not doing. As a student, father, husband, and employee my life requires a high level of productivity. And, since every highly productive person I know is an early riser, I chose to change my morning routine by rising at 5AM.

Past attempts to change my wake-up time have always ended in failure, and these failures have taught me what I need to do to become a morning person. Perhaps the things I’ve learned will help you start your day more effectively as well.

Set a Bedtime

Get to bed on time every evening. You know how many hours of sleep allow you to do at your best. Though I wish I could live on less, I need 8 hours of sleep to be in top form. That means my bedtime is 9PM. Making this change has been very difficult for this night owl. However, I’ve been successful so far by using these guidelines:

  1. No caffeine after 3PM. The half-life of caffeine is 3-7 hours, and if it is in your bloodstream, it will keep you awake or disturb deep REM sleep.
  2. No TV or Computer after 8PM. When I am tired, and especially when fatigue combines with discouragement, I like to escape into the alternate reality of television or social media. Hours can pass quickly, however, and soon I am going to bed later than I planned. To make matters worse, screen time before bed reduces sleep quality .

Set a Wake-Up Time

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my non-negotiable time to rise and shine is 5AM. I don’t debate about what time I will get up the next morning, because that has been settled in advance. This wake up time only works if I keep the agreement to avoid caffeine after 3PM and screen time after 8PM.

Don’t Let Regret Follow You

In my case, the most effective enemy of early rising, and overall effectiveness, is regret. When I let myself become overwhelmed with my work and begin to let things slip, I can quickly feel defeated. One defeat easily leads to others, and before I know it a good habit is undone.

To avoid regret and discouragement, I try to set realistic goals. I don’t beat myself up when I fall short. But before I go to bed each night, I complete that day’s checklist when possible.

Things To Remember

Your successful morning routine is determined by your nightly routine and your intake of caffeine. If you exercise some self-discipline, it is relatively easy to create a new routine. Keep regret at bay by fulfilling each day’s responsibilities, because its companion, discouragement, will remove the bounce from your morning footstep before you can say, “cock-a-doodle-doo.”

Does Your Morning Routine Help You Succeed?

Keeping a regular morning routine is often a battle, even for a self-described “morning person,” busyness tends to crowd out our sleep, and discouragement is always waiting to take the wind out of our sails.

What do you do to keep your morning wake-up time from slipping? Share your tips and experience by leaving a comment.

  • Great advice Harvey, I should follow suit. I can see how the same amount of time could be more productive in the morning hours than evening. I like you unfortunately am a night owl 😉

  • Bill

    Great words Harvey! Someone wisely said, “He who hoots with the owls at night seldom soars with the eagles during the day.” Appreciate you and the very practical words of wisdom.