Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Quick Tip #1: Move Your Alarm to the Bathroom

If my big intention for 2015 is to live more mindfully, part of that is to live more productively. What I mean is that I want to spend less time being passive or inactive, and more time actually living life. Less TV, less mindless internet time (read: cats, hacks, and knickknacks), more being outside, more human interaction, more creating - that sort of thing.

I'm pretty lucky in that I have amazing flexibility with my job. I work from home about 2 days a week, and go into the office the rest of the time. On my office days, I can arrive any time between 7 and 10! My work load has its ebbs and flows, so some mornings, when I know I have a full schedule ahead of me, I'll log online around 7:30 to start my day. Other mornings I'll wait to start my day until 9 or 10 (I'm on the East Coast and work with a lot of people on the West Coast, so later start times help synch our schedules).

For the past several months, my standard morning routine has started with my alarm going off about 45 minutes before I have to leave for work, or about 15 minutes before I have to log on for the day, if I'm working from home. This is typically around 8:00 AM or later (with a few exceptions for days I know I'll be slammed, as I mentioned). 

Also of note, I typically fall asleep on the couch around 10:00 PM, and head to bed by 11:30. So I'm getting a full night of sleep (and then some!). Yet every morning when that alarm goes off, I hit snooze. More than once.

Recently, I decided that I was wasting these morning hours and wanted to start waking up earlier. So I set my alarm for earlier. Like 45 minutes earlier. But I didn't wake up. Instead, I just hit the snooze button closer to 5 or 6 times. 

E was not pleased.

I've read a ton of tips and tricks about how to become a morning person:
  • Put your phone on the other side of the room.
  • Set your coffee pot the night before.
  • Buy a special alarm clock app that makes you do math before you can shut it off.
  • Get out of bed when you wake up naturally.
None of these worked for me. One tip that did make sense, and has worked every day I've used it so far, is to put the alarm clock in the bathroom. I hesitated to do this at first because I was afraid it would wake E. I asked him about it last week and he very obviously pointed out that I was already waking him up - several times - by keeping the alarm by the bed and hitting snooze repeatedly.

So, a few days ago I set my alarm (which happens to be on my phone), and left it in bathroom with the door open. The next morning the alarm did its thing, I got out of bed, turned on the lights, turned off the noise, and started my day.

So. Simple.

Here's a few benefits/reasons why I think this worked for me:
  1. Leaving my phone in the bathroom overnight helps me fall asleep faster because I'm not distracted by texts (or Facebook, or Feedly).
  2. I'm forced to leave the bed, with its warm blankets and soft pillows, for the harsh reality of winter in a drafty house.
  3. When I get into the bathroom, I turn the lights on immediately, which jolt the senses.
  4. I generally need to use the bathroom as soon as I wake up, so I'm staying out of bed for a few extra moments.
  5. With the lights on and the call of nature answered, I will brush my teeth, and by then I'm awake and I'm not fighting for "just another 5 minutes". 
I haven't had the urge to crawl back into bed once since I started this new routine. It's amazing.

Waking up earlier has given me extra time to:
  • Enjoy my coffee.
  • Write blog posts.
  • Read blogs.
  • Spot clean the house.
I'm not curing cancer with the extra 45 minutes, but I'm finding a calm and productive way to start my day. My ultimate goal is to eventually wake up around 6:30 AM and get a workout in. For now, I'm happy with a successful babystep. Try it!

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