Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I always get asked that and I wish “neither” was an acceptable answer.

I enjoy sleeping in, I enjoy being curled up under the covers, I enjoy spooning my oversized pillow. I also enjoy putting my pajamas on as soon as I’m home in the evening. I enjoy reading in bed before I fall asleep. I enjoy being in bed before 10:30. I’m the one always thinking, “Ok, if I go to bed now, I will get 9 hours of sleep…”

Again and again, I’ve come across articles and studies that correlate waking up early with success. When I first launched Strong Girl, I thought “This is your chance to become a morning person! Wake up early and get training stuff done before your full-time job!” That lasted all of a day. Instead, I enjoy stressing myself out by working my full-time job, heading to the gym to train clients, THEN heading home and working on Strong Girl tasks until I almost pass out at my desk.

Sounds productive and healthy, right?

Then, I recently read an article about how early some of the world’s most highly successful people wake up. Many of the best CEOs are awake by 6 a.m. Ok, 6 a.m. I can do. That’s not too early. Then I read that Margaret Thatcher was up by 5 a.m. every morning. Anna Wintour is playing tennis by 5:45 a.m. and Gwyneth Paltrow is up by 4:45 to practice yoga. Disney and AOL CEOs both state they’re up by 5 a.m.

C’mon, guys. Just, no.

But the further I read, I found that some of the explanations for waking up early made sense: you can get some of your difficult tasks out of the way with minimal interruption, your willpower hasn’t been completely exhausted yet and you feel more in control of your day and schedule.

I decided to give myself 5 days last week to try this out.

Wednesday: I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. and triple checked it the night before to make sure I didn’t set it for p.m. like I’ve been known to do. I ended up naturally waking up around 6 a.m, but on principle, refused to get out of bed until my alarm went off. It wasn’t even that I was tired. I could have been up at 6 a.m. and been very productive. But I didn’t HAVE to be, and so my laziness won over my willpower and logic. Once I was up though, I was ready to go. I made some coffee, answered a few work emails, worked on some content strategy for the Web site. Not too shabby.

Thursday: Again, I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. I rolled over and looked at my phone around 5:30 a.m. and thought, “No. I want TWO more hours of sleep. You can’t tell me what to do, alarm!” And then promptly set it for 7:30 a.m.

Friday: This time, after I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m., I set it on the other side of the room. This way, I’d have to physically remove myself from the bed to turn it off. I couldn’t tinker with the alarm if I wanted to sleep in later without having to get up in the middle of the night, and my laziness far outweighs my desire to reset my phone alarm. This trick worked! I got up and quickly ran to start my Keruig before my  body could figure out it wasn’t going to lay down again.  I listed the top 3 things I had to get done that I was the least looking forward to and banged them out. I actually kind of wanted to pat myself on the back. It felt pretty great to get these things out of the way before I even go the train station.

Saturday: So, I worried about doing this experiment on the weekend. Like I mentioned, I love my sleep. Chris is an early morning riser (i.e. he gets up at 6 a.m. on the weekend for absolutely no reason) and it frustrates him that I can stay in bed, very content, til much later than that. I had read that in order to establish some type of consistency with getting up early, that included the weekends. Your body needs to get used to rising earlier. So I decided I’d get up by 8:30/9. Trust me, this is early for me. I seem to have a much harder time with this if I’m sleeping at my place verses Chris’s. I ended up getting out of bed a little later than 9 a.m., but I decided to count it as a win because I really wanted to stay in bed. 

Sunday: Sunday morning pretty much played out exactly like Saturday did, but I woke up at Chris’s this time so I was up around 8:45. It still took me 1+ hours to really “wake up” and consider myself a functioning human being. I drank my coffee, I read a little of my latest personal development book I’ve got loaded up on my iPad, I played with the puppy (because she headbutted her way onto my lap, almost spilling my coffee.) And because I’m finally starting to believe she actually loves me, so I take advantage of any attention she appears to give me.

All in all, I think I did ok! The days where I was successful with getting up early enough to complete several Strong Girl Fitness tasks before my day actually began did leave me feeling pretty good. It absolutely set a more positive tone for the rest of my day; there was a sense of pride that I accomplished a few things before most of my friends/co-workers had even left for work.

I am going to try to implement this strategy more consistently over the next few weeks in hopes that it sticks. At least for now, I can’t find a single ‘negative’ aspect to it in regards to my success. I’m mostly just sad I’m still not under the covers.

How about you – are you an early bird or a night owl?