Easy Routines for Becoming a Morning Person

tips and tricks for better sleep and energized mornings

After publishing my latest article on how to avoid burnout, a close friend of mine asked how to become more of a morning person.

I’m no sleep expert, but studies show a good night’s sleep helps improve memory and longevity, spurs your metabolism, and reduces risks of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Having a good night’s sleep enhances your creativity, raises your attention span, and even boosts your happiness and energy level.

Sleep is important, and it’s something I have struggled with for some time. I would find myself up at night unable to shut off my mind.  I would feel restless, frustrated, and completely wired.  I had no idea what to do or how to control it. It wasn’t until I did a few experiments when I finally found a way to curb it.

Coffee|Bedroom

Six ways to fall asleep faster

I’ll say this right now: I am not a morning person. There is nothing I love more than my warm sheets, quilt comforter, and soft, plush bed. Before trying out a few practices, most mornings it was impossible for me to get out of bed.  I would find myself waiting until the very last second before jumping out of the sheets and getting ready for my day. This left me feeling rushed, irritated, and grouchy.

Before we start talking about becoming a morning person, let’s look at some tricks for getting a better night’s sleep.

find Your perfect bedtime routine

The first thing you need to do is decide your bedtime.  Try to give yourself six-to-eight-hours each night. I get as much sleep as I can; I go to bed at 10:00 p.m., and I wake up at 6:30 a.m. For some people that sounds like too much, but I find that bedtime perfect for me. Find something that works for you. Once you figure that out, follow these tips to help make sleeping easier:

Get ready for bed before bedtime 

Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestseller, The Happiness Project, taught me a lot about sleep. One of her tips is to get ready for bed an hour or so before bedtime: washing your face, brushing your teeth, taking a warm bath/shower, etc. Doing so will relax you, and you won’t feel like getting ready for bed is a chore.

Avoid all stimulating activities

Stay away from doing tasks that keeps your brain engaged including homework, finishing your research paper, and yes, screen time. I have a strict screen time rule. Try not to use your phone, television, or other electronics that might keep you wired. Studies find the light emitted from your phone and other screens impacts your sleep, and even alters your alertness and focus the next day.

Exercise, stretch, or do yoga before bed 

Doing yoga, light stretches, or easy exercises before bed eliminates restlessness throughout the night. I found when my hip injury used to keep me up at night, adding a little more yoga and stretches right before bed helped loosen those flexors and gave me a better night’s sleep.

Tip: Speaking of restlessness, try to not get in bed until bedtime. If you’re lying in your bed for hours before you go to sleep, your body won’t adjust to the change.

Keep your room chilly

I love sleeping in a cold environment. It allows you to pile on more blankets, put on fuzzy socks, and bundle up! Keep your bedroom to about 65 degrees; your warm sheets will be more inviting, and you will feel relaxed.

Turn all of your lights off 

Another useful tip from Gretchen Rubin. I find that even the smallest nightlight will keep me up. Make sure your room is completely dark with little distractions. Sleeping in a completely dark room helps your brain wind down and realize that it’s time for bed.

if all else fails, read and write

If all of these tricks still don’t work, sit up and try reading from a book or a magazine (with the lights on, obviously). You can also try writing your thoughts down; getting them on paper is a good release. You can even make a to-do list about what needs to get done the next day, so you are ready to fall asleep and be prepared the next day.

ways to be a morning person

Now that you’ve found a routine that works for you, it’s time to work on becoming a more energized, happier person in the morning. It’s really hard to instantly become a morning person; it takes a lot of work and conditioning. The biggest trick is to find a morning routine that works for you. Doing so will help you feel excited to wake up in the morning and give you the right start you need for your day.

Becoming a morning person: Start with a healthy breakfast

eat a healthy breakfast

You’ve heard it your entire life: the best start to the morning is a healthy breakfast. Make sure your breakfast is big enough to give you that boost of energy you need to get out the door. I like adding protein to my breakfast, whether it is different variations on eggs, or peanut butter spread on toast. Having a good breakfast in the morning will help you stay energized throughout the day.

stop pressing the snooze button

This one is pretty simple. The more you press snooze, the more time you lose (I just made that up now and I am pretty impressed with myself)! Pressing the snooze button isn’t being proactive; get up the moment your alarm goes off. You’ll feel happy that you have extra time to have a bigger breakfast or read more of the newspaper instead of fitfully trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep.

get up at the same time every day

Find a time in the morning that works throughout the week. Waking up at the same time every day will soon become routine, and eventually, you won’t need a pesky alarm to wake you up in the morning. Waking up naturally is peaceful and a much more pleasant way to start your day.

get moving once you wake up

The moment you wake up, get out of bed even if you are just walking into another room. Don’t lie in bed and scroll through your Instagram and see what everyone else is up to. That will only make you want to stay in bed longer, make you groggier, and chew up a lot of time. Once you wake up, get moving.

exercise

Speaking of moving, exercising is a great way to boost your energy and start your morning right. Try doing some morning yoga, or take your dog for a walk. Doing so will wake you up, you’ll feel happier, you’ll increase your self-esteem, and you’ll be ready to take on your day. Exercising is also a great way to stay focused throughout your day.

what about you?

How do you keep a steady, nighttime schedule? Are you a morning person? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

 

How to Avoid Burnout with Six Simple Steps

Ways to recognize burnout and take action

Life can get pretty overwhelming, and sometimes we juggle more than we can handle. We tend to have a myriad of general and social factors pulling us in different directions, whether it is work, school, or trying to find time for our social lives and hobbies. How do we do it all and avoid being burnt-out?

It’s the holiday season, and that means nonstop parties, get-togethers, holiday shopping, and other exciting events will fill up your calendar. In my case, I am booked every single weekend until January. This is an incredibly positive and joyful thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful! With a full-time job and other responsibilities, it is going to be hard to manage it all.

So, this holiday season, my biggest task will be to avoid burnout.

To “burnout” means to jeopardize one’s physical and mental health through overwork. You’re worn out; you feel helpless, exhausted, and have no control in your surroundings. It’s an awful feeling, but can be avoided with a few easy tricks.

Blog-Burnout

how to spot burnout

Here are some ways you can spot burnout:

  1. Increased anxiety and stress
  2. Not enough sleep; energy loss
  3. A feeling of disconnect with others around you
  4. Lack of engagement in the workplace or in daily tasks
  5. Inefficiency; being unproductive

If you’re burnt-out you know it. You feel sluggish, frustrated, and as if there is no way you are able to complete any tasks on your to-do list. You feel as if you aren’t being recognized for the work that you do accomplish, and even that work makes you feel challenged, or seems monotonous.

How to avoid burnout

Hopefully you are able to recognize these signs early, and once you do, you can find ways to avoid falling off the edge. There are plenty of simple tactics you can try that will help you recognize burnout and take action to steer yourself in a positive, happy, and productive direction.

Find a relaxing morning ritual

Start your day off right; if you begin your morning rushed and frantic, you will only continue to feel that way throughout the day. Find some activity that will calm you and energize your brain. It can be yoga or meditation, a hot shower, or reading a chapter from your favorite book. Take a morning walk with your dog, or start your morning writing in a journal. Make sure it’s something that will keep you focused and stress-free.

track your daily accomplishments

If you know me, I am a big fan of to-do lists. Every day, first thing in the morning, I sit down and I write a list of everything I need to complete that day. This includes tasks and projects at work and other goals outside the workplace including going to the gym or writing. Whatever it is I write it down, and as I complete it, I check it off. Doing so gives me a sense of accomplishment and boosts my energy to keep going.

Tip: Be sure to make your to-do list realistic; do not bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you prioritize and that you’re not overloading yourself with work.

Make sure to give yourself an internal (heck, or external) high-five when you complete each task. It’s rewarding, and will give yourself confidence to charge through that list.

Take breaks throughout your day

Even if it’s a five-minute walk around a nearby park, or a lap around your office building, stepping away and taking a break will do wonders. Take some time to clear your head. Go out to lunch with a co-worker or just head outdoors. You need to give yourself the ability to step away and regain your focus. Plus, being outdoors stimulates your brain and gives you boosts of happiness and self-esteem. I find that when I take breaks, I feel my stress and anxiety fade away.

talk about it with co-workers, friends

If you are feeling on the verge of a breakdown talk to someone about it. This can either be a sympathetic co-worker or a friend who you feel comfortable with. It will feel good to get those emotions off your chest, and your buddy might even help you prioritize what you need to get done and ways to avoid feeling stressed.

If you’re in the workplace and feeling close to burnout, one of the biggest tips I can give you is to talk to your supervisor. That’s what they’re there for.  If you are feeling like you are losing your grip on what needs to be done, sit down with them and they will help you prioritize. Communication is key. Don’t keep it bundled up!

allow time for creativity

Whether it is taking the time to read a book, writing your thoughts down in a journal, or plugging in your headphones and listening to your favorite music, it is important to unplug sometimes and let your creative juices flow. Taking time to step back and channel your inner-creativity for a few minutes will lead you to a more productive and energized self.

Story: Last holiday season, I found that the task of getting all of my loved ones the best holiday gift daunting. I was incredibly anxious and nervous that I would not be able to make them happy (plus I was broke). Then, I discovered the art of making scrapbook holiday cards! After a busy, stressful day at work, I would sit down, unwind, and create holiday cards with different themes, colors, and customized artwork. I felt so relaxed and productive –I ended up making over 50 cards!

Giving myself the time to explore my creativity helped curb my anxiety and gave me that productivity jolt to use in the office. I felt rejuvenated by doing something enjoyable and used that stimulant to keep myself on track.

Eat, Move, Sleep, Repeat

This goes without saying, but take care of yourself. When you’re burnt-out, you’re exhausted. Try to exercise regularly to give yourself more energy. Even getting up from your chair and doing a few stretches or exercises will stimulate your brain, alleviate your stress, and increase your productivity. Make sure that you eat healthy meals and try not to indulge in those heavy foods that might bog you down even more. Eat light, nutritious, meals and make sure you get enough sleep. Your brain and body will thank you.

What did I miss? Share how you avoid burnout in the comments below.

 

How to Write Clear and Concise Content

How does one write well?

In his book On Writing Well, William Zinsser said the following:

“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”

Writing is hard. You will never be a “writing expert.” Writing is an art; it takes practice.

blog writing

Zinsser also stressed that as a writer you must present clear and concise copy to your audience. Your work should be to the point, yet comprehensive to your readers. But, how can you achieve both?  Here are some tips I adhere to when writing:

keep your sentences short

Keep your words, sentences, and paragraphs as short as you can. If you write directly, you will keep your reader’s interest. No one wants to read run-on sentences; it may steer them off track. Keeping your sentences short will also keep your readers engaged. It’s a certain tempo that will excite them and will result in gaining their interest to read more.

write how you talk

Be yourself and stick to your own voice. Use words you know, or else you’ll confuse yourself and your readers. Writing how you talk will personalize your content, and readers will stay connected to you. I find it best to write like you are having a conversation with a friend. You don’t need convoluted sentences to get your point across. Stay true to yourself, and your readers will stay true to you.

Avoid UNNECESSARY words and phrases

Eliminate words that cause a lull in your work, like adverbs and adjectives. Words like “very” or phrases like “it’s crucial to,” or “in order to,” bury your important information. Getting rid of these words or phrases sharpens and cleans up your content. Adjectives and adverbs are often unnecessary; you can remove certain words and still get your point across.

check your facts

The last thing you want to do as a writer is portray false information to your readers. The notion to “back up your facts” was ingrained in our brains throughout grade school. Not everything you read is true, so you need to use a credible source if you are presenting facts or statistics in your content. If you throw around false information, then you will lose your readers and your credibility as a writer.

revise and rewrite

All the time. If you want to provide clear and concise content, you need to proofread.  Read your content 3-4 times. Check for spelling, grammatical errors, tone, and consistency. Nothing can devalue your work and reputation faster than publishing error-ridden content. Edit and create clean copy; it will strengthen your writing and will build trust among your readers.

As you digest these tips, remember to have your own style when you write. These practices are helpful, but you don’t want to write like a robot. Bring your own flair to your writing. Readers don’t want boring content!

Did I miss anything? Feel free to share practices you keep to produce clear and concise copy!

Ways to Boost Your Energy and Happiness

One of the biggest challenges I face is to stay energized. Let’s face it: At the end of a crazy work day,  the last thing I want to do is tackle a new project or do something other than hide under my sheets. I barely have the energy to make dinner let alone take on a new task.

Finding the motivation is tough, but not impossible. There are plenty of helpful practices that help keep our energy juices a-flowin’ –like making sure you get a solid 6-9 hours of sleep, or making sure to do some type of exercise every day.

energy

In my case, six hours of sleep and exercising every other day is more of a reality. Despite those two practices mentioned above, I have discovered other ways to boost my energy. I have also found that doing the following also helps make me happier:

  1. Get outdoors: Even if it’s sitting outside for a few minutes or going for a quick walk, being outdoors makes you happier; it helps clear your mind and give you a change of scenery. Multiple studies have found that being outdoors is stimulating; it recharges your brain and boosts your energy.
  2. Clean up: I find that picking up physical clutter around me also helps get rid of the ongoing clutter taking up too much real estate in my brain. So, before you stress, look around: Are there stacks of paper on your desk? Is your working station a mess? Are there a pile of dishes in the sink? Taking time to clean up will help you feel more accomplished.
  3. Acting Energized: I got this one from Gretchen Rubin. I find it fascinating how we can trick our brains into believing something even if it’s not true. If we act energized, our brain and body will start to believe it. Try moving around or pacing around the house. I even try talking (most of the time to myself …no shame) animatedly about what needs to be done. You’ll find that you feel more energized and ready to do what you need to do. 
  4. Stttrreeeeettcchh!: This one is my favorite. Sometimes, when I am at work and feel like I am at my wits end, I stand up, and do a few stretches. I stretch my back, arms, neck, and legs, and after, I feel so much better. This is  a good practice if you spend the majority of your day sitting at a desk, like me.
  5. Make a to-do list: I love to-do lists. So. Much. Making a to-do list instantly makes me motivated. So the next time you are in a bind, try making a to-do list. Even if it’s just one or two tasks, you’ll be happy that you were able to make the time to write it down, and you’ll feel more energized to get it done.
  6. Eat something: Sometimes when your energy is low, it could mean that you are hungry. So, try eating something light to give you a little boost. Emphasis on light. One time, I ordered Chinese, and I ended up just watching Gilmore Girls on the couch for four hours. Finished a season, but that’s about it.

I hope this list helps you find your boost of energy and motivation. If you have any methods or practices that help you get your foot out the door, feel free to share in the comments below!