7 Ways to Get Moving in the Morning

Does your morning get off to a strong start?

When I was younger, I was a night person – I loved working the 3:30-midnight shift (well, who wouldn’t, in Greenwich Village?) and I was lucky if I crawled out of bed before 11 am. I remember, as a rookie assistant manager assigned responsibility for writing the work schedules, I decided to be kind to the other managers and give myself the dreaded 9 am shifts for the next week. The response from my colleagues made it clear they didn’t see this as a favor – to my delight. My second draft of the schedule gave them all the open and mid-shifts so I could take all my favorite closing shifts – until my store manager made it clear that wasn’t an option either. Somehow in the years since then, I’ve become a morning person. (Parents and managers everywhere, take heart!)

I’ve read a lot of blog posts lately that preach the importance of carving out time first thing in the morning for reading, reflection, and strategy. My approach is a little different because I find, if I start with the quiet stuff, I stall out and my day never starts.

Here are seven ways that I jump-start my morning:

1. Start the Night Before

I review my calendar for the next day and take out the clothes I’m going to wear, make my lunch, etc. because I know if I have to do that stuff in the morning, I’ll forget something. I’ve also found that when I limit the consumption of sugars in the evening, I sleep better and wake up with energy.

2. Move the Alarm Clock Across the Room

Because I have to get out of bed to take action, I’m less likely to hit the snooze button. When I travel, I turn off the alarm clock on the bedside table and put my phone on the desk across the room.

3. Sleep with the Black-Out Curtains Open

I especially use this trick when I’m traveling, privacy allowing, because the morning sun wakes me up.  At home, I use one of those alarm clocks that wakes you up with a gradually “dawn” of light.

4. Train My Cat to Help

She owes you something, that lazy rascal! Feed your cat first thing in the morning, give your dog a big bowl of water before you go to bed, move the birdcage next to the window. Train your beloved pet to demand something from you in the morning and they’ll train you to get out of bed! (Those of you who know Pam know that ignoring her demands leads to Trouble with a capital T that rhymes with C that stands for Cat!

5. Eat Some Protein

Within 15 minutes of getting up, I eat a handful of raw almonds to jump-start my metabolism. Sweet things and carbs give me a short boost but then I just want more sugars, so I avoid them in the morning.

6. Exercise

I like to exercise first thing in the morning because it gets me up and out of the house and I’m less likely to get sucked into Morning Joe or the internet.  Nothing too intense – yoga, a long walk – waking up my body wakes up my mind. (The outdoor walk also helps with a morning dose of sun.)

7. Find a Compelling Reason to Enjoy the Day

Having something to look forward to during the day makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning.  It doesn’t have to be big – seeing my favorite yoga teacher, having lunch with an old friend, talking to my sister on the phone, reading to children. Even if I was feeling stressed out about my job, when I focused on something good about the day – a meeting scheduled with a favorite team member or a trusted colleague – it was much easier to get out of bed than when I focused on the parts that I hated.

I took the photo accompanying this blog a few years ago, while at a conference. Knowing I would be walking on the beach with a friendly colleague made it much easier to get out of bed that morning. If I had focused on the work that I had to do that day, I would have been tempted to bury my head under the pillow instead.

Once I’ve done these seven things, then I’m ready to enter that period of reflection and strategizing that everyone talks about.

What is one way you get yourself out of bed and moving the morning?

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