As a full-time worker and student (on top of being a wife and homemaker), I was beginning to find it very difficult to find the time I needed to get things done that actually mattered to me. Starting this blog was such a huge deal to me, but it was quickly shoved to the back-burner when the demands of my day led to exhaustion and overwhelm. I would get home from my day of work to plop down in my bed and relax for a few minutes before getting up to do a load of dishes and then get started on classwork. By the time all this was finished, all I wanted to do was either go to sleep or stay up way too late binge-watching TV. I had not a single drop of motivation to make my website pretty or write new posts, or any of the other countless tasks that goes into managing a blog.
So how did I get out of this unmotivated rut and find more time in my day? I made a decision and I committed to it. I decided to wake up at 5 a.m. every weekday morning, for a couple of reasons.
One, I realized how much I loved enjoying a cup of coffee. Not so much that I needed that rush of caffeine as I ran out the door to work, but that I loved the ritual of it. Smelling the coffee in the can before it was brewed, picking out which of my most-loved coffee cups I wanted to use that day, and finally, sipping it almost slow enough to where it got cold. Before I started this early wake up routine, I hardly ever had coffee on my weekday mornings, or when I did I had to rush and throw it in a to-go cup to drink on my drive to work. But I realized that one of my favorite parts of my weekends was drinking coffee on my parents’ front porch, and so I decided to make this as much a part of my every-day life that I could. Having those minutes in the morning to just savor something for yourself before the demands of the day drains you can make all the difference in the world.
The other reason for my 5 a.m. wake-up time was to give myself more time for me, and for my blog. I decided that if I ever wanted to make any progress on my website then something had to change. If I was too drained after work to be productive, then my only solution was to start before my work-day even began. So on the mornings I had to be at work at (or before) 7 a.m., I only got about an hour of work-for-me time. On those days I went in at 9 a.m. however, that gave me a full three hours to dedicate to my blog, or to read a book on self-improvement, or to even get some deep-cleaning done around the house.
To some of you, it may seem that waking up early when you don’t have to is laughable at best. I certainly had the same first impression of my idea! While I enjoy mornings, I have never been a morning person. But I realized that if a short-term sacrifice of sleeping in is what it took to get a move on my goals, then that is what I had to do. I had to develop self-discipline to better myself in the long run. And yes, those first few days were HARD! Getting out of bed has always been a struggle for me. I use a few techniques to make the mornings a little easier now:
I use the Sleep Cycle app.
This alarm wakes me up in the lightest phase of my sleep and tracks the quality of sleep that I had that night as well.
I make sure that my coffee pot is cleaned and prepped the night before.
If I know that I have to hand-wash my coffeepot before I can even make any coffee, it is ten times harder to make myself do it at all.
I turn my bedside lamp on to slowly acquire my eyes to the light of day.
Since my husband actually has to be out the door at 4 a.m. for his job (awful, I know!) I can turn on the light and stretch as much as I need to without worrying about disturbing his sleep.
It all really comes down to time and how we are “creating” more of it for the things that matter to us. Time management is a discipline that I am still improving on. Waking up at 5 a.m. might not be the solution for you. Maybe your mornings are already filled to capacity with getting kids ready for school, exercising, or cooking a meal to feed your family. Maybe you are most productive in the evening time, after everyone else has gone to sleep and you are burning the midnight oil. I just want you to have the courage to think differently about your day, and decide to prioritize time for yourself, even if that means a temporary sacrifice in some other area.
If you have never tried waking up early and the thought intimidates you, just commit to it for a week. Change may not be easy, but it doesn’t take long to settle in as the new norm. You may be surprised at what you cringed at the week before.
I want you to feel encouraged if you are struggling with all the demands of your day. I know how extremely tough it is to motivate yourself to work on you when all you want to do is crawl into bed and just breathe after a long day. But taking the time to improve yourself daily will pay off leaps and bounds in the long run–after all, if you can give your employer eight hours a day to work on their dream, can’t you at least give yourself one hour to work on yours?