I’m a morning person. I enjoy getting up before everyone else and just being present in my own thoughts, in my own space. I also feel like I can get more done if I wake up early – from my multi-mile runs, light cleaning, prepping for work, and more.
Not everyone is a morning person….but should you try to become one? Would you get more done? Would you be more relaxed and enjoy life more?
Research featured in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology suggests that early birds, do in fact, get the worm (or maybe they can just afford the more expensive worms?). In other words, they are more successful in business- perhaps because they have more time to be proactive and productive. Other research has noted that being a “night owl” or preferring to stay up late and sleep later in the morning is associated with a host of ailments, the most being psychological disorders (ie. Depression).
So what does it take to become a morning person? The Swedes may have the answer. In Sweden, there is a practice known as Gökotta, which loosely translates to getting up early so that you can hear the early morning birdsong in nature. But simply hearing the first call of the birds at dawn does not guarantee you will be happier, more productive or have a more fulfilled life. It’s also how you spend your time in the early morning hours that can determine what happens next.
3 Ways I Practice Gökotta
Early to Bed, Early to Rise – To practice Gökotta, it’s not only important to wake up early (many believe “early” means before or at dawn), but it’s also important to go to bed early enough to allow for ample sleep before rising. Even a lovely birdsong will not motivate me to be more productive if I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep. Knowing that my day starts at 6am or earlier, I try my hardest to be in bed sleeping by 10pm – even on the weekends and vacations. If this schedule makes you tired just reading about it, start small by going to bed an hour earlier than you normally do, and waking up an hour earlier.
Make Time for Nature – Spending a little time in nature or even listening to the sounds of nature can help us be more mindful of how we are feeling and more grounded in our intentions or goals for the day. I love to go for a run in the early morning hours – even on very cold days in Chicago. The cold, fresh air wakes me up, stimulates my brain and gives me that much needed “me” time outside of the house (crazy important for someone who works from home). And the earlier I get out, the less likely I am to hear non-nature sounds – like cars, garbage trucks and dogs barking. Even if you’re not a runner, a walk or simply sitting outside on your porch or patio should be enough. At the very least – perch yourself by an open window while you enjoy your tea or coffee. You’ll feel the outside air on your face and hear the birds and squirrels chatter – anything to prevent you from crawling back into bed. Baby steps my friends.
Slow Down and Be Intentional – Although Gökotta isn’t specifically related to setting intentions or goals, Gökotta does give us the time and space to slow down and become more intentional (even productive), reflecting on anything and everything that may come to mind. This will look different for everyone. My preference is to make lists – on paper, on my phone or in my head while I’m out for a run – these are intentional thoughts on all of the things I’d like to accomplish that day or that week…or in my life in general. Many of those things are work related, while others are just for me. Two things that are always on my list – outdoor exercise and coffee. Check and check. I feel more productive already.
Sounds simple, right? But if you’re still not convinced you can become a morning person, try practicing Gökotta for a week – you might be surprised at how many worms you can catch.
Live well, my friends.