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The alarm clock blares. What do you do? Do you reach over and hit the snooze button for the third time before rolling back to sleep for another ten minutes?
The way you start off your day explains everything about your lot in life. Are you content, or are you hungry? The most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs get their most productive work done in the early hours when their competition is fast asleep.
Warren Zevon said it best: I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Living in California, celebrity best-seller author Eric Shiffer would be giving up on half the country if he didn’t wake up at the same time as New York City. You are missing opportunities if your implied message is, “I’ll get back to you after lunch, once I wake up.”
I’m frequently asked for tips on how to be a more successful person, and one of my answers is always the same: be a morning person. Not everyone is born a morning person, but we can all become a morning person. Some among us require a swift kick to the behind. The trick is to find your passion and make a habit out of it.
Here are five morning brain hacks you can use to be a more successful person:
1. Let the light in Human beings evolved to operate on a circadian rhythm, to wake up with the sunrise and fall asleep with the sunset. We have to go out of our way to break this rhythm. If the most effective way to stay asleep is to turn off the lights, shutter the blinds, and cover your face with a pillow, then the most effective way to wake up would be the exact opposite. Keep your blinds open, even partially open, to let the sun in and your body will naturally awaken the brighter it gets. If you live in a room without a window, there are alarm clocks that become gradually brighter over time. You can also plug a lamp into a timer so it will automatically turn on at a certain time.
2. Turn the heater off There’s a reason David Letterman keeps his studio at 55 degrees all the time. A cold audience is an attentive, awake audience. A warm audience is lethargic and sleepy. In the morning, the time for comfort has passed. Keeping the heater on tells the brain it’s still in its warm resting period. A warm room will encourage you to go back to sleep. A stiff breeze of cold air will hit your core and pull you out of bed by force. Turn down the heater and cool your body down so you can be more alert and less groggy.
3. Wash your face Shortly after you wake up, a splash of cold water is a refreshing way to start the day. As a bonus, the clean feeling will extend to your mouth, nose, and eyes as well. When I was a little kid, I once refused to get out of bed and my mom poured a glass of cold water over my head – the operative word here being “once.” Heading straight to the sink when I wake up to wash my face gives my body a Pavlovian response that it’s time to start working.
4. Keep your alarm clock out of reach This is the most effective way of making sure you don’t hit the snooze button over and over again. Put your alarm clock or cell phone in a place where you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off; get your body moving. The more annoying the sound of the alarm, the better off you’ll be. Look for apps for your smart phone that require you to solve a puzzle to turn off the alarm for an extra mental edge.
5. Passion and People Find projects and goals that you love and where you can see that you are making incremental improvements. Also, reach out and develop new relationships on the personal and business side of your life. When you do both of these you will be more excited about your day, your projects, your goals and connecting with new people that interest you. Things will happen automatically.
Make a habit out of these simple, low-cost brain hacks and you’ll be hardwired for success and enjoy the process!