Monday, September 3, 2012

4 Ways to Love Early Mornings

Lately, I have been waking up between 5:30 and 6 every morning, and it has become my absolute favorite time of day. And this is coming from someone who all through college thought that 8:00 am was brutally early. There's been a big change lately, and there are several things that have helped me not only wake up early, but actually enjoy my mornings.

1. Go to bed on time
This really has been what made the biggest difference for me. I know that my body needs at least 8 hours (and preferable 9) to function well. So I am intentional about trying to go to bed at a time that will allow me to get 9 hours, which means that I usually get 8-8 1/2. Ensuring that you get enough sleep is the best way to ensure a sustainable wake-up time. And usually, as long as I get enough sleep most nights, then I have a few nights a week when I can stay up later and still enjoy my mornings.

2. Follow a routine
Every night, I pack my lunch, lay out my clothes, and plan out any errands I might need to run. This way, when I wake up early, I don't have to worry about remembering everything - I only have to assemble what I already planned. As a bonus, I also get to sleep a bit longer. In the morning, I also have a routine. When I wake up, I don't think about what to do - I just make my bed, work out, shower, eat, read my Bible, and head out for work. If I don't have to think about what to do first, then it's harder to convince myself that I should turn over and go back to sleep.

3. Do your favorite things
One of the reasons I love being up early is seeing the sunrise. Sometimes it's not particularly stunning, but three times in the last week, it was absolutely glorious. It's a piece of beauty that most people get to enjoy and as a result, it becomes a special time of praise and communion with the Lord for me. I also love having time to read my Bible in the morning, and so I make sure that there is time in my routine for that. That makes me look forward to waking up, rather than dreading doing the things I don't enjoy. I also try to finish everything I don't like the night before (packing my lunch, figuring out what to wear, etc.). If your mornings include your favorite things, it is so much easier not to hit snooze.

4. It takes discipline
This is the not-fun part of waking up. Some mornings, I absolutely do not want to get out of bed. And sometimes I will sleep for another half-hour. But most of the time, I just get up anyway. And I have never regretted it. Additionally, I usually wake up early even when I don't have to, which means that my body never has to adjust to major changes. On weekends, I will sleep in for an hour or so, but I never sleep past 8. Honestly, sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do because you know that the end result is worth it.

It's worth it. On mornings when I wake up and accomplish things before I get to work at 8, my whole day runs more smoothly. I find I have more joy and discipline in other areas of my life. Even better, my focus starts where it should be: on the Lord Jesus. When I don't wake up early, I have to "fit in" my time with the Lord later in the day. And that is not what I want my priorities to reflect.

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