How to Start the Day Right When You’re NOT a Morning Person

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By Jess Dixon

Ah, mornings. Whether you’re a “spring out of bed and leap into action” type or a “don’t even talk to me until I’ve had my second cup of coffee” type, many people have strong opinions about mornings. 

In theory, one of the joys of working for yourself is that you can set your own hours. That’s sort of true, but also a bit of an over-simplification. If you run a service-based or customer-facing business, chances are that your customers will expect you to be open at certain core hours.

As a writer, I can theoretically work at any time. However, with clients scattered in various countries around the world, I have to be mindful of timezones. In practice, that means I find myself sitting down at my desk between 08:45 and 09:30 pretty much every weekday. 

As a busy business owner, you might even have tried to maximise your morning productivity by following various ideas about what the ideal morning routine should look like. But what if you’re just not a morning person at all?

Here are some strategies I’ve used or have seen work for others. Maybe they’ll work for you, too! 

Stick to a schedule

Even if you don’t need to stick to a rigid schedule, it’s a good idea to come up with an approximate plan for each working day and stick to it. For example, if you decide you’ll start work at 10, break for lunch at 1, and finish by 6, try to stick to that as much as possible (allowing for a little flexibility, of course.) 

Try to go to bed around the same time each night, too. You’ll function better in the mornings if you’re well rested. 

Do something that wakes you up first thing

What helps you wake up when you’re feeling tired? Find something that helps you get energised in the morning. For some people, this will be exercise (I can’t face the gym early in the morning but I do like starting my day with a swim or some gentle yoga.) For others, listening to energising music helps them get going. Reading a book, walking your dog, or meditating are just a few other great options to consider. Find what helps you wake up, and make it a habit to do that thing every day. 

Do easy tasks first

I’ve learned that however much sleep I get and however early I get up, I’m simply not going to write 2000 amazing words before 10am. I just don’t work like that. Instead, I start with easy tasks like sending and replying to emails, scheduling social media posts, and assigning project work to the other writers I work with on Trello.

Ease into your working day with a few easy tasks before you get started on bigger projects. Bonus: you’ll get to tick a few things off your to do list in the first couple hours of the day, which will make you feel super productive and motivated. 

Make appointments first thing

Sometimes, the best way to get yourself to do something is to have someone else relying on you for it. The easiest way to do that? Schedule meetings, phone calls, or Zoom chats for early on in your day. 

It’s easy to say “I’m just going to sit here and scroll through Facebook for another half an hour” when no-one is expecting you at your desk at 9am except you. But if a client or contact is waiting for you? I bet you’ll make every effort to show up for them!

Don’t reach for your phone first thing

My phone is also my alarm clock, so I’m usually scrolling through my professional social media channels and looking at client emails before I’ve even got out of bed. This is a really bad habit and I heartily do not recommend it (do as I say not as I do, etc.) 

If you can avoid it, don’t reach for your phone and jump straight into work mode at the very start of the day if you can help it. If your phone is also your alarm clock, turn all notifications off until a certain time that you decide is “work time.” Give yourself time to wake up first!

Make your home office a nice, welcoming space

You’ll be much more excited to get to work if your workspace brings you joy. So take the time to set up your home office the way you like it. Make it warm and cosy, welcoming, and filled with things that make you feel happy and uplifted. 

This is a really simple trick-your-brain hack. Even a simple change like tidying your desk and making sure everything is where you need it can make a big difference. Stuck for ideas on how to brighten up your home office? Fresh flowers, artwork on the walls, or family photographs are a great place to start. 

Pro tip: if your office (like mine) is freezing on winter mornings, get a portable space heater. It will change your life. 

What makes your mornings easier? 

Many of us freelancers and business owners aren’t very good at mornings. So if this is you, you’re not alone! I hope these tips will help you feel more awake and more productive in the mornings. 

Have you found any awesome hacks that work for you? We’d love to share them with the Your Best Kept Business Secret community if so!

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