How to Be an Early Bird

Career Blog

Making the transition from night owl to early bird is no easy task, but it starts with the realization that most of us can’t be both….well, without going clinically insane. If you’re an introvert or overloaded extrovert looking to increase your “me time” head towards the light…morning light that is, by following these simple evening shutdown steps.

  • Know Your Numbers: Most people need between six and eight hours of sleep per night, with a majority weighted to the higher end of that scale. Assuming you shut down for the evening at 10pm, you can wake at 5am with a buffer on their side and still be well within that window. Experiment a bit, find what works for you, and set and stick to that schedule.
  • Prepare: High performance people have a never-ending To-Do list that can span work, family, and social obligations. Rather than have these items bounce about your brain, take five minutes to commit them to paper before you hit the sheets. For many on the page means off the brain.
  • Get Consistent: with your bedtime. Avoid the nighttime show binge and strive to hit the sack early and at the same time every night. This gets your body rhythm in sync and starts the production of a new habit…quality sleep.
  • Embrace the Shutdown: Give yourself 20 minutes of chill out (non-screen) time to unwind and settle in for the night. Sure you can use white noise devices, meditate, or do deep-breathing exercises, but try reading a bit of fiction instead (shameless plug: Fiction takes your mind off the day’s events and provides a pleasant focus point to coax you from consciousness.

You’ll be more apt to retain this new habit if you have a motivating purpose for the newfound time. Some of my coaching clients use this carve-out specifically for creative projects or side businesses. Other popular uses for morning time include:

  1. Exercise: Let’s face it. The day has a tendency to get away from us and our workouts are often the first thing to get struck off our lists when a competing family or work obligation looms. Tackling it first thing in the morning not only provides an energy boost it enables you to attend that impromptu happy hour, key after-hours client meeting, or kiddo’s soccer game without skimping on yourself.
  2. Eating Well: You don’t put cheap fuel in a high-end sports car. Likewise, your body needs nourishment to perform well. Skip the donut and make a real breakfast. It’s worth the time.
  3. White-Spacing Your Day: This doesn’t mean “white boarding” another to-do list. Instead, take some time to think about what innovative actions can help you make the most of the upcoming day or week. Once this becomes habit you can do steps 1 and 3 together.

Life is demanding, but with the right planning, you can make anything happen. We all have the same time. How we use it makes the difference.

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Be sure to check out my latest book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi


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