How I became a morning 🌅 person

and why you should give it a try too.

View of my neighbourhood street on a winter morning with sun raising in the background. Photo taken by me.

Problem ❓: Shortly after I got my first full-time job, I found myself in the dilemma of not having enough time in the day. On top of the 8–9 hours in the office, I spent another 2 hours commuting, 7–8 hours sleeping. The rest is barely enough to cook, eat, dress and do other things a human needs to do to survive gracefully. How do people do this?

What 🌅: I decided to try to get up early. I read somewhere that one can always control how you spent your mornings as the time after work is hard to plan ahead. Sometimes you have to stay late at work, sometimes you have social events, sometimes your typically 1 hour commute can delay to 2. I find this especially helpful as I am now a full-time student.

How ⏰: Unfortunately, you can’t just set 5 alarms and wake up the next morning to be a fully functional morning person. You will wake up (to a certain degree) and question why you want to do this in the first place. My suggestion is to start small by turning your alarm 10 mins backwards from when you typically wake up and turning your clock backwards a little further day by day. I started when I first got back from Beijing and that sweet sweet 12-hour jet lag gave me a huge head start. And over the years, I can naturally wake up between 5:30 to 6:00 am without an alarm. And yes, I do this on the weekend too. The important part here is to find something that your body adjusts to and do not adjust them back on the weekends.

Details 📝: So what exactly do you do during these extra 2 hours you get all of a sudden? You can use this time to hone in any of tasks, habits or anything really. But here are the things I do in my ideal morning (heavy emphasis on ideal here):

  • Set out a time totally for yourself: I try to start and end my day with a 30–60 mins no-screen 📵period. I find that without overwhelming myself with news, unread chat messages or emails, or social media first thing in the morning has made me more focused on the task I would like to do.
  • Write a journal ✍🏻/ plan your day on paper: I started journalling about a year ago. I am not a writer and the idea of writing down on a blank page scares me. So I opted in a more guided approach: Dailygreatness Journal. This goal-oriented, (in my opinion) better-than-lots-of-self-help-books journal helped me go through some very disoriented morning.
  • Make your bed 🛏: I always like to take the time to make my bed in the morning. It stops me from napping throughout the day and it’s just nice to come home to a nicely made bed. Also, it’s always the first task I am able to check off on my list every day.
  • Meditate 🧘🏻‍♀️: As someone who has ADD, the idea of not moving even for 10 secs was too much. However, I somehow got over it and I found the 15/20 mins I spent each morning just going through my thoughts helped me so much to set the correct mindset for the rest of the day. I use headspace but there are so many apps/tools out there you can take advantage of.
  • Cook some breakfast 🍳: This is definitely something I am still working on but I believe in the power of a warm, home-cooked meal. What you eat first thing in the morning really sets the tone of the day. The smell of freshly made coffee coupled with some delicious oats just gets all of my senses going.
  • Do some physical activities 🏃🏻‍♀️: I didn’t say work out here on purpose because there are definitely days I don’t feel like doing anything. I tried to spend those morning with some gentle stretches. But on the day I do have the energy, I go for a 50 mins cardio or personal training class. Combo that with a quick shower afterwards is my secret to (sometimes) avoid that morning coffee.
  • Work on a skill you would like to develop 👩🏻‍💻: in my case, coding. I find the fresh morning mind works so good to debug those codes that you couldn’t solve the morning before. Or I take this time to plan out some pseudo codes for a project I am working on. I specifically like this time of the day for tasks that require more thinking and planning as this is typically the only time I can work on something in a quiet, peaceful setting.

That’s all, folks. I understand it’s totally a choice to wake up and develop a morning routine. But I hope I inspired you to give it a go and what I listed above has given you some helpful tips.


Here are some other places you can find me on the Internet:

I write at-the-moment short blog post (people also call them tweets): https://twitter.com/ChaoyueZ

Wanted to know about my career journey? Head over: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chaoyuezhao/

And of course, you want to know what food I eat: https://www.instagram.com/chaoyue_zhao/?hl=en