Does the early bird actually get the worm? 

In defence of those who wake up early.

On a day to day basis, I’m up at 5am. Even on days when I don’t have work or university. The exception of course is if I’m sick or I’ve had a late night the night before. But I’ll never push my wake up time to anything past 7:30. No matter what the reason. Sickness, events and jet lag won’t stop me from rising early.

I usually leave the house at 7:45 if I’m heading to work or uni. And so in those two hours and 45 minutes, what do I achieve?

Currently, I meditate and fit in a workout. I shower in the morning, have the time to make myself a fresh breakfast (granted I usually just down a smoothie because it’s too hot too cook anything) and pack my lunch, watch the news, and if time permits, get up to date on the happenings on social media, post to Instagram and catch up on new videos from my favourite YouTubers before heading out with friends, or to work.

If I’m not working or going out, I spend my mornings exercising, doing yoga or meditating on the patio, reading, planning lunch and dinner and getting through things that I would usually put off, like cleaning my room or reorganising things. 

During uni, I swap out the news and social media aspect of my routine in favour of revision for my day or ensuring I’m on top of my workload. If I have time and have a hand in assessment due, I’ll spend time on that instead of wasting the morning away. And anyway, my commute to uni is the perfect time to catch up with the social and fickle parts of my life. There’s nothing like passing an otherwise boring commute with dog videos, Instagram and Snapchat.

And I think what takes the cake is the 3am wake up call whenever I have exams. But this doesn’t mean I’m compromising sleep. During exams, I will always get at leasr 6.5 hours of sleep. You can do the maths. If I have a 9 am exam, I’m gifted with 4 hours of revision with no distraction. No one’s up on social media. In fear of waking up the rest of the house, I don’t even go near youtube. The air is fresh, the city is quiet. It’s perfect to fit in a quick workout to get the blood and happy hormones pumping around my body, make myself a good cup of tea after downing two glasses of warm water, and start revising.

Getting myself into this habit saw a significant rise in my ability to recall details, facts and formulae. My practice times for essays and attention to detail are so much better, and overall, I was and am a happier, more collected student when I walk into my examination room.

So what have I gained from this routine?

My body and mind happy because of the exercise and the ability to actually rationalise and centre myself. As someone who is anxious and does suffer from anxiety, being able to dedicate the time to clearing my head of any negativity or unproductive thoughts is essential. It keeps me going throughout the day, and if looking back at the past three years is anything to go by, meditating and clearing my mind has helped me steel myself against the occasional onslaught of negativity that happens.

I feel good and I’m so much more productive. By being able to wipe out 90% of the distractions in my life before I get to work or uni or start on the important things in my day, I’m able to focus so much better. My attention to detail is stronger, I’m able to get more done academically, and I’m so much more on top of my work.

I’m ahead of the game. My days are always so much more productive and I can achieve more than what I usually plan out for. Waking early has provided a solid structure to my day. I’m so much more disciplined, and therefore, so much more happy with myself. By eliminating distractions before everyone else is up, I have nothing stopping me from my actual tasks when the time is needed.

I’ll admit. I’ve never been a diary woman. I’ve never had to write phone numbers or assignments or dates down. I’ve always had everything stored in my mind. For 17 years, my mind was my diary. Until I started pairing my early wake up with slowly getting myself into the habit of writing things down in a diary. A simple, unassuming black diary that let’s me run free and be as neat or messy as I please. And I’ve found that by consulting and checking over things in the peace and tranquility of morning, I’ve been more successful at knocking out menial or uninteresting tasks.

There’s nothing like knocking out a chapter of business finance notes early in the morning, when you see it glaring at you in red ink from a little black book.

So how did I get into this routine?

I’ve always been an early riser. My whole family has been. And because of this, I guess I began to adapt my routine to my needs and wants. I have a highly active mind and do get distracted easily, so routine is key for me on a day to day basis. Without routine, I can feel quite strange. I’ve become to used to having a routine when I’m not on holiday, that without it, my days wouldn’t feel right.

The main thing to take away from this is that I don’t compromise sleep or my health. I’m able to stay up as late as I want, even with my early wake up time. And I know I can adapt my morning routine to suit my needs. If I’m tired, I might opt to just meditate in the morning instead of doing cardio. I can always do cardio in the evenings and motivate both myself and my older sister to exercise together.

The early morning is the perfect time for me to essentially form a battle plan and strategise for my day. It’s the small accomplishments that really set the tone of the day. I walk out feeling fresh and alive, and often that sets me apart from my peers and coworkers, who down caffeine to stay awake and coherent. Don’t get me wrong. I love my coffee. But I’ve never had coffee to wake me up.

So yes. The early bird does get the worm. It’s a hard routine to get used to, but the benefits are apparent from the outset.

And anyway, doesn’t everyone want to feel on top of their very best game?

xx Simran

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