One of my favorite phrases to hear is, “I would love to become a morning person but I’m just such a night owl I don’t think I could do it,” because it implies that becoming a morning person is some sort of genetic predisposition and those people enjoy staggering through their apartment fumbling for coffee and a granola bar at 5:30 a.m. When, in my reality, staying up late is a very fun, very appealing way to spend nights and getting up early is a very real sacrifice made to accomplish goals or better myself.

I’ll spoil the romanticism now. Waking up early is usually very hard, but for those of us who require the early morning hours to get more done, they are absolutely the best time for quiet, efficient work.

For the past 6 months I’ve consistently woken up 3 hours before my real job starts so that I could spend 2.5 hours of that time working on this very website you’re reading right now. It’s not always fun, but now being an early riser is part of who I am and I mostly love it.

How did I go from binge watching Modern Family till 1 a.m. to waking up at 5:30? Glad you asked.

But first, a small caveat

Now, you may be one of those people who works odd hours or has to get up super early for your job–this post won’t be as applicable to you. These principles are primarily for people who have a job with a sort of regular schedule, but want to find time out of their regular working hours to pursue something. Maybe it’s exercise, writing, reading a novel, or starting a business. No matter your goal, I’ll say from my experience that the morning is the best time to get work done outside of your work.

How to Become a Consistent Morning Person

But First, Decide if You’re Serious

To me, there’s a real difference between saying, “I want to become a morning person” and meaning it. For a very long time I lived exclusively in the camp of people who talk about wanting to get up early and never actually committing to it because of TV, or Facebook, or any other interesting thing that happens really late at night.

This isn’t a shaming article at all, but I think it’s important to do a little self assessment to make sure that you really want to get up early and aren’t just saying it because it sounds like something adults do. So if you’re serious…

Step 1: Set your alarm at least 8 feet away from your bed

This one’s obvious. I moved my alarm clock (phone) to the bathroom countertop and so now my mornings start with a groggy staggering to stop the incessant blaring. Sure, it’s not as enjoyable as snoozing 5 times, but it’s much more effective.

Typically, I stare at my iPhone for a solid 2 minutes trying to figure out where I am on the planet before turning off the second alarm and realizing it’s time for coffee.

I’ve found that snoozing is a Pandora’s box. If I snooze my phone once, I will snooze it 30 times. Personally, getting up early is impossible with the snooze button.

Step 2: Leave your house/apartment

In the beginning of my early rising days, I always left my apartment right after waking up to work at a coffee shop. I realize this isn’t doable for everyone, but for me the physical act of going somewhere served two purposes: 1) it made me get dressed in real human clothes and 2) it gave me a carrot (reward) for following through with my commitment to waking up.

Sure, it’s expensive to buy yourself Starbucks every morning, but I can’t overstate the value of starting your day this way. Try it a few times a week at first and see how it goes. It’s also cheaper if you (like me) just buy regular coffee and not venti mocha frappes.

If you’re getting up early to work out, then leave your house/apartment. I found that the most important thing was just getting up and quickly leaving. That’s what shook my body into action of moving.

Step 3: Pay someone if you don’t get up on time

You may have heard those first two suggestions before, but I can almost guarantee that this one is new.

Coincidentally, my decision to become a morning person also aligned with my decision to join a Mastermind group*. Basically, a Mastermind group is where a group of people get together on a regular basis to pick each others’ brains about business, life, and all sorts of other things. The intention is that you each contribute your individual skills to the group and everyone benefits from each others’ company. Our Mastermind group decided that in order for us all to get more done, we were each going to commit to getting up early.

In order to keep each other accountable, we all agreed to text a picture of something in our house outside of our room to the rest of the group by 6:05 a.m. If we didn’t send the picture, we owed everyone in the group $10. We did this every day except the weekend.

*Here’s an article on mastermind groups if you’re curious: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chicceo/2013/10/21/7-reasons-to-join-a-mastermind-group/

Did I ever lose money? Yes, twice. My wife was pissed.

Financially speaking, I get that this is an expensive idea. But that’s also sort of the point. If you can’t afford $10 a person, make it $5 or less. Whatever the amount is, the important thing is that there is a very real consequence for not following through with your commitment to get up early. 

The other tips are good if you have a lot of self control, but this last tip is by far the most effective and the most important. If you want to wake up early to work out, study, or build a business, it’s really advantageous to assemble some friends who are also looking to get up early and get stuff done. My guess is that you probably have more friends than you think who would like to get up early with you. Don’t believe me? Ask your Facebook friends. I could definitely be wrong, but I bet at least a couple will respond saying they’re interested.

Do I still get up early every day?

Just about. I want to be totally transparent here and tell you all that the Mastermind group I’m a part of suspended our morning texts about a month back because we realized we didn’t need them anymore. After texting those guys every morning at 6 a.m. since April, I’ve found that now getting up early is way easier, but I’m also not as diligent as I used to be. It feels like the transition to a morning person is complete for the most part.

Still want to get up early?

If so, check out this contract I designed to help you and your friends start an agreement about getting up early. Feel free to download it, print it, and get all your friends to sign it. That way you can collect when they all sleep in and you wake up on time 😉

Click Here to get the Early Morning Contract (PDF Version)