I know that there are few things that divide people as much as whether being a morning person makes you more productive. Let’s assume, for a minute, that you are on the side of get-up-early-and-get-things-done. Even if that’s the case, there’s a pretty good chance your natural inclination is not to crawl out of bed before the sun comes up. That’s understandable, there’s a reason it’s considered a “natural” inclination.
Still, if you want to be more productive and have your mornings to get a head start on your day, becoming a morning person has real value. I’m sure most of us can figure out some way to spend that time.
Fortunately, becoming a morning person isn’t even all that hard–other than the part where you have to wake up and get out of bed. Unfortunately, that part is the entire problem for most people.
I do have a rule, however, and if you follow it, you can become a morning person in less than a week. The rule is simply this: Set two alarms in the morning, three minutes apart. I call it the two-by-three rule.
I’ll explain why this works in a minute, but first, a few important things you should know. The second alarm should be set for whatever time you actually need to get up. No more setting a handful of alarms over the course of an hour. Every time you hear an alarm and know you don’t really have to get up, you won’t. Instead, just set two alarms, and then get up.
Also, stop hitting snooze. It just doesn’t work. Whoever thought that a nine-minute snooze–that you can just keep hitting forever–would help you get out of bed was wrong. You just end up laying there getting annoyed by the sound of your alarm, but you don’t actually get up.
Finally, if you’re using your smartphone (which most people are), set the two alarms with different sounds. Over time, our brains become accustomed to the sound of our alarm, and we end up getting to a point where we can just reach over and turn it off more as a reflex.
The reason the two-by-three rule works is that you are conditioning your brain to get up at a specific time, instead of just whenever you will yourself awake. The first alarm helps to break your deep sleep. You’re not going to get up then, but when the second alarm goes off three minutes later, you won’t have fallen all the way back to sleep and it’ll be a lot easier to get up.
That’s why you set your second alarm for the time you have decided you’re going to get up. That part is important. Don’t set it before you want to get up. The key is that your brain knows you really have to get up when that alarm goes off.
Obviously there are other things that can help you get up earlier, like not consuming caffeine later in day. In fact, the key to getting up early starts the night before. Getting to bed early enough that you can still get seven-to-nine hours of sleep is the first step.
Also, creating a nighttime routine that helps your body wind down can help. Then, setting two alarms, with the second being the time you have decided to get up, can help retrain your sleep cycle. Give it a try for a week, you might be surprised how productive you can be in the morning.