The room is dark when I open my eyes. There’s no alarm. My body has just become used to waking up early, and I’ve learned to listen to it. When I wake, it’s time to get up.
The first thing I do is reach for my phone to check the time. 4 a.m. I lay there for a moment, my mind rolling through all the things I want to accomplish today, but mostly this morning. All my things are in convenient piles on the floor. My sweats in one pile. My books and computer in another. My hair tie on the dresser next to me.
I stall for a few more minutes, enjoying the warmth of my bed and the soft breaths from my sleeping husband. Then I do a weird twisting roll to slide out of bed to try not to wake him. He’s become accustomed to my early morning routine. His breathing deepens for a moment, but then he’s back to an easy rhythm. I slide into the bathroom, doing my business before weighing myself (whoops, that late night calorie splurge did not go away quietly). Then I dress, grab my things, and head downstairs.
This is my sacred time. It’s a time set aside just for me. The house is quiet, no one needs me, and I’m free to sip my coffee and do anything I want before I’m needed.
“The time just before dawn contains the most energy of all hours of the day. This has helped me become an early riser and an early doer…. When I wake to see that it’s light out already, I feel the world has started without me.”
It’s also how I set the tone for my day.
Everyone can benefit from getting up before you need to, especially those who lead busy lives. By giving yourself an extra two hours before you need to get going with your day, you’re giving yourself time to move slower, maybe eat a little breakfast and make your lunch, and do what you need to do to plan how your day will go. According to this article, it’s even the secret to success.
“The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.”
Put it this way — how great is your day when you wake up to the alarm, rush through getting ready, then race off to work only to complete task after task until quitting time, then race home so you can do it all again? What if I told you this extra time in the morning could benefit your whole entire day, even save you time in the long run?
But it’s more than just waking up early. It’s about what you do with that time. Here are five things you should do with your extra two hours a day:
- Drink a glass of water. You should drink eight glasses a day. You know this. Knock out the first one now. Your body will thank you.
- Eat breakfast. Don’t just grab a piece of toast and run out the door, but actually sit down with some kind of food you enjoy, and then mindfully eat it bite by bite. Experience the food. Taste it. Go slow with it. Not only will this food give you energy, but starting the morning with an eating meditation will add a peacefulness to your entire day.
- Journal. According to Julia Cameron, you should write at least three pages. Write about what’s plaguing you. Write about your goals. Write about your cat. Write about whatever is on your mind. But just write. You’ll be surprised what comes up, what you discover about yourself, and how much you grow because of this exercise.
- Make a checklist for your day. For my checklist, I put three things I have to do that day. Then I make a sublist of things I’d like to also do that day, but may not have time for. Then I make a sub-sublist of things I’m thinking about, probably won’t do that day, but don’t want to forget about them. I know, sounds silly. You do your checklist, and I’ll do mine. The most important part is actually making a plan for your day so that you’re in charge and not your day.
- Work on your goal. Are you a writer? Write something. An artist? Paint something. Do you want to lose weight? Go for an early morning walk/run, or head to the gym. Are you working toward your degree? Study in the morning while your body and brain are freshest.
Things to NOT do during this time:
- Scroll social media.
- Check your email.
- Watch TV.
- Read the news.
You get my point. If you want to do any of these things, save them for the end of your morning time, otherwise they’ll steal the time you’ve set aside for yourself.
“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”
~ Lemony Snicket
Is it hard to wake up early? Sure, at first. But just like anything, practice makes perfect. I used to have to set my alarm to wake up at God awful hours of the morning. But eventually my body just got used to the early morning routine. Now I just make sure I’m in bed by a certain time, and then I wake up when I wake up, which is usually between 4–5 a.m. I don’t have to get ready for work until 7 a.m. This allows me 2–3 hours to plan my day, eat my breakfast, listen to soft music, and write to my heart’s content, all before the sun comes up.
The rest of the day, I’m needed by everyone else — my kids, my husband, my job, and so on. But before 7 a.m., that time is all mine. And I’ll never give that up.