Are you a "solo worker?" That is, a person who relies on their own motivation to achieve goals instead of having a traditional boss yell at them -- they are business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, sales people, some types of financial traders, and so on.
Solo workers often have a problem. They have one goal they can't seem to tackle, and it's universally bothering them.
To wake up earlier.
You should feel reassured that Manhattan's best and brightest solo workers also have the same problem we all do of rolling out of bed on time -- and these are some brilliant and amazing people!
Maybe it's because as NYers, we've chosen a night owl city and are out a bit too late at night? Regardless, we're all human, and it's comforting to realize that even the most successful people in this city can have trouble not hitting snooze way too many times on that alarm.
Why have so many of my solo worker clients had trouble with this? (And when I say so many I mean at least 80 percent of all of the clients I have had since 2005). And it's something I've also struggled with!
The problem is, flexibility is terrific! It's the dream of working for yourself. Except that it can make it really, really difficult to start the day on time.
1) First of all, waking up early is often just not fun when you're still groggy and in need of coffee. We do too much in one day, and that can leave too few hours for sleep. Being sleep deprived is not a fun way to start a productive day.
2) Second of all, not having a boss to scream at you if you are late can make it even harder to get situated in your work space on time.
Waking up at a certain time isn't in and of itself the problem. If you can achieve your results today, who cares which hours you worked, right? The only problem is, crawling into the office at noon (which isn't inherently a bad thing), often sets a negative emotional tone for the day. "I'm so lazy to have slept so much -- how can I even think I'll sell enough today? I'll never get motivated."
The dream of having all of this wonderful, flexible time is also balance by a desire to actually use that time to achieve what you'd like. It's really not fun to get distracted all day and end up with a list of things you failed to achieve today. That makes your motivation level tomorrow drop as well, and the cycle continues.
Anyone embarking on a big life change should consider learning to wake up earlier.
It tends to result in thoughts like this:
"Wow I got a lot done today."
"I'm one step closer now."
"I'm really happy with my results!!"
Waking up earlier is more than just a time on a clock. It's a metaphor. Getting to work earlier symbolizes a refreshing new start to the day, and a mindset of focus. It also increases discipline, which helps train you to build other new, healthy habits -- and this of course makes the big goal easier to reach, whether that is making more money, expanding a business, getting in great shape, having more time to build relationships, etc.
So you can see that it's more than a time on a clock. It's the mindset that starting a productive day brings you. And that carries over to tomorrow morning.
Want to wake up refreshed and have a full, satisfying, productive day that brings you SO much closer to your ultimate goal?
How to do it:
1) What time would you ideally like to get up in the morning? ___:___Write your reason for waking up at that time, and what it will help you accomplish.
2) What distractions do you deal with daily? (i.e. text messaging, web surfing, social phone calls or visitors, gossip, doing non-work tasks instead, etc. Write down this list.
3) Now write out a chart for yourself for ten days. Each day record what time you woke up and got to work. If you didn't meet your goal time, write the reason why. Also write your overall attitude during the day -- was it positive or negative?
4) At the end of ten days look back on what you've written down. Were you able to wake up and get to work on time? If so, great! Keep it up. If not, what were the key things that sabotaged you? Devise a strategy for dealing with each problem. Then do the exercise again.
5) Once you're achieved waking up at the time you'd like, continue to focus on it for the next 20 days. Continue to record your results to keep you on track.
6) After 30 days it should be a habit that is fairly hard to break. (this is of course all easier to accomplish working with a coach -- we're all human and it's hard not to sabotage ourselves at the start of a new program without support).
Some strategies for working around common wake-up early obstacles:
Problem: can't wake up because you were up so late working or playing.
Solution: schedule your work or play to end one hour earlier than usual.
Problem: can't get to sleep.
Solution: wake up early for even one day, and tomorrow it'll be much easier! Also be sure to leave your last hour before bed for relaxing things only. Don't do stimulating things like exercise, drink caffeine, watch TV, work through stressful tasks, etc. Instead stretch out, do yoga, breath deeply, listen to relaxing music, listen to an audiobook (on a non-stressful topic) -- try doing this in a darkened room perhaps with a couple candles (low light helps prepare your body for sleep). You can also take a melatonin supplement, which is a natural way to help your body produce the hormones it needs to fall asleep. You can also take a warm shower or bath. Writing down your worries, to-do lists, or other distractions may also help clear your mind.
Problem: don't have the motivation to get out of bed. It's just so comfortable!
Solution: schedule some tasks for the time you'd like to get up. Sign up for something you'll feel guilty if you don't make it to -- a class, business conference, meeting, phone call, breakfast meeting, gym personal training session, etc. Ensure it's something that other people are expecting you to be at. Just one day a week of this will help you wake up earlier the rest of the days.
Problem: you stay up too late completing tasks (that are important tasks!)
Solution: look at the rest of your day and determine why you couldn't complete those tasks earlier. If they are not work tasks, consider batching all of these tasks together and use one weekend day to complete all of them so you can get to sleep earlier during the week. For instance, make a "not work" folder to keep bills, greeting cards to send, invitations, and lists of things you need to do -- such as laundry, shopping, etc. Keep these items in a special place as far from your work area as possible. Knowing you've schedule a day to accomplish these items means you won't be worried about forgetting to do them -- leaving your work time free and your mind fresh. Set your cell phone alarm or make a note on your calendar the day before you plan on doing these non-work tasks, just to be sure you don't get so caught up in your work you forget to pay your bills or buy milk!
problem: your friends text/IM you all day
solution: text/IM them back during your "lunch hour" but not throughout the day. You might even tell the people who contact you most to try to contact you around noon as that's when you'll be most likely to respond quickly
Try out these strategies and you'll likely see some fast results for increasing your focus and positivity throughout your work day. And it's as simple as waking up at the time you'd like to be up each day.