Last semester, my roommates and I decided that we wanted to have a healthier, positive and more productive spring. We thought the first step would be getting ourselves to the gym, and the only time slot we could figure out where we were all available was 5:45 a.m. That’s why for the last three weeks, I forced myself to be an early riser. But the early wake-up calls became my best friend after one week.
For our new plan to work, we changed our sleep schedules. Instead of crawling into bed at midnight every night, we all retire around 10:30. I set two alarms to wake myself up in the morning. One for 5 am and one for 5:37 (an odd time for an alarm, I know). I lay my gym clothes out the night before so that in the morning, I just have to put them on and grab a few gym essentials. I’m ready to walk out the door by 5:45. One of my friends likes to remind me that setting two alarms disrupts my sleep pattern, but it works for me. I’ll consider my multiple alarms a vice.
My apartment is a short walk away from the complex gym. One of the great parts about waking up so early is that few people are working out at the same time as me. Other than my roommates, there will usually be one or two other people using the equipment. We wear our masks and practice social distancing while working out, and we wipe down all of the equipment. Having fewer people in the gym makes me feel safer while still getting a good workout in. We stay in the gym for 30 minutes to an hour, then make our way back to the apartment.
After a quick shower, I make my bed and a cup of coffee. I’d be lying if I said that coffee wasn’t an essential part of my morning success. The one bad part about starting my day earlier is that it tends to lead to more cups of coffee than usual. To try and remedy the situation, I bought decaffeinated coffee as well. Once I’ve had one or two cups of the real stuff during the day, I’ll switch to the decaf stuff if I want more. Life is all about balance, after all.
With my coffee mug in hand, I start to work on my homework and classes. I try to finish one assignment before I eat breakfast. I use my meal times as breaks, and sometimes I’ll do chores like laundry between assignments too. By noon I am more than half-way done with my to-do list for the day, and I feel like I have accomplished more than a fair amount of work. Plus, when I am already feeling productive, it’s easier for me to keep working and clearing through more assignments.
With my mornings being so productive, my evenings have been left for socialization. After dinner, I am free to read, talk and watch television with my roommates. I have yet to miss an episode of the Bachelor this season. Rather than us all struggling to get work done, we feel accomplished enough by 6 p.m. to call it quits for the day. I no longer feel drained from Zoom fatigue and online classes, but I do feel successful and mentally prepared for the next day. I am spending an equal amount of time doing work, but I’m avoiding my unproductive period (the wall I hit at about 3 p.m. every day). Not only am I feeling better about my physical health because I am able to get my workout done early and frequently, but I also feel more organized and put together mentally and emotionally. I take a break and sleep in on the weekends. I still try to go skating or on walks to stay active, but I don’t force a trip to the gym.
I always knew that if I wanted my physical health to be a priority, I would need to work out in the mornings. With my plans to go to law school, and my motivation dropping as the hours go by, early mornings seemed like my best shot to get everything done healthily and intentionally. The last three weeks confirmed that I can be a morning person with the right discipline and scheduling. Sure, I may need a few alarms and a couple cups of coffee, but behind every successful woman, there’s a latte waiting in her favorite mug.