- Jessica Milicevic is an entrepreneur and founder of a boutique social media marketing agency.
- A natural night owl, Milicevic decided to overhaul her routine to have more productive mornings.
- She says setting boundaries and going to bed earlier helped her become a more organized boss.
I have historically not been a morning person. I considered 10 a.m. to be early, and even then I was dragging myself out of bed and begrudgingly moving through a morning routine. I never saw the sun rise and I never wanted to. Getting ready for work, even when I worked for myself, was a slow-moving chore.
I envied those who seemed to jump out of bed at 5 a.m. with vigor. I thought it must be a natural trait specific and that I could never attain it. But as I’ve learned, while being a morning person for some is natural, you can also become one intentionally. When I trained myself to become a morning person, I found that not only did I feel less tired, but my productivity increased and my business performance improved.
Here’s how I went from being a night owl to an early bird, and how it helped my business.
I changed my night routine
You can’t expect to become a morning person if you’re up all night. I had a bad habit of zoning out in front of the TV every night after my kids went to bed in pursuit of mindless, lazy time to myself. I’d often stay up late and fall asleep on the couch, and then wake up with a kid in my face and a crick in my neck. How could I expect to be alert and aware of my business tasks, when my body and mind had not truly rested?
Setting up a weeknight routine was my first step towards becoming a morning person. Every night, my kids are in bed by 8 p.m. and I begin to prepare for the next day by making a schedule with time blocking techniques, picking out clothes for the kids, and making sure the living room and kitchen are clean. I then give myself one hour to wind down. Sometimes that means watching TV, sometimes it means reading or hanging out with my husband. I even set a timer to keep me honest! After one hour, I change into my pajamas, brush my teeth and wash my face, and go to bed.
Knowing that my next morning is prepped and ready to go helps me to relax and fall asleep faster. My body and mind are actually resting, so when I get up at 6 a.m. the next morning, I feel alert and ready. I can move through our morning routine, get everyone off to school, and focus on my business tasks with efficiency and precision.
I set strict boundaries
I own a boutique social media marketing agency, so I work primarily from home with a remote team. When you own your own business, it can be easy to always “be on” and available to anyone who needs you, whether it’s an employee or a client. I would stay up late answering emails, texting, or making list after list of things I was worried I would forget to do. Feeling like I always needed to be available caused me severe anxiety, which impacted my sleep and my positive mindset.
To become a morning person, I needed to find ways to have more productive days and calmer nights. For me, that meant setting boundaries to protect my mental health. I started silencing my phone after 7 p.m. so I wouldn’t be notified every time an email or text came through. I allowed myself time in the morning to have coffee and some reflective personal time before logging on for the day. I made myself a work schedule and used an app that helped me adhere to it, so I would use the hours in the day to be as productive as possible.
Planning this schedule the night before also helped me to feel prepared for the day ahead, and having an app that notified me of the time blocks assured me I’d done all I could that day. As a result, I was able to rest at night and look forward to the morning and what I was going to accomplish.
I gave myself morning enticements
It took me 12 years to become a morning person. I fought it for as long as I could, wanting to stay a night owl in my dark, quiet, and kid-free space. But as I got older, my body just couldn’t handle it anymore. My kids and my job forced me to be an early riser, so I knew I needed to have something to look forward to every morning to get me going.
Did you know that you can not only have quiet time at night, but in the morning, too? (I know, I’m as shocked as you are.)
Knowing that I’d have an hour of me-time once the kids went to school helped me look forward to 6 a.m. Instead of diving right into work, I give myself one hour to have coffee, watch the news, or sit on the back porch and watch the birds, and just be in the moment. Afterward, I felt like my mental and emotional cup was full, my brain felt more alert, and I could get my work day started from a good place — all before 9 a.m.
Becoming a morning person takes discipline, but so does being a business owner. Taking charge of my routine, my schedule, and my mornings has helped me to become a better boss, a more organized business owner, and a less anxious woman.