How can she look so perfect at 8 a.m.?
No frizz in her loose curls, no wrinkles in her pencil skirt and no chips in her Lincoln Park After Dark manicure, your competition sits across the lobby. She calmly sips her chai latte waiting for her turn in the conference room.
As you gulp your caramel macchiato with a double shot, you take a quick scan of your appearance (although you should be reviewing your notes). Hair in a bun because there was no time to wash and blow it out. Naked nails because you had time to get the polish taken off at the nail place next to your airport gate, but no time for a new shade of rose gold. Your pants are totally wash and wear. You wish you could blame it on jet lag but you know it has nothing to do with travel.
You would love to become a morning person. Unfortunately, you feel like your brain doesn’t fully engage until noon. You do your best work when everyone else seems to be fading. You’re a night owl in a world designed for larks.
While it may feel impossible to transition, there are some simple strategies to help you become a healthier, happier, and more productive morning person – even when you’re two time zones off.
Start with small transitions to an earlier bedtime. Getting your seven to eight hours of sleep is extremely important to your health and your productivity. In order to wake up a little earlier, you need to go to bed a little earlier. Start by backing up your bedtime by 15 minutes, setting an alarm for an hour before that to prompt you to start winding down. Every few weeks set your bedtime back another 15 minutes until you find a time that matches your waking time.
Stay consistent in your schedule. Social jet lag is just as bad as travel jet lag. Keeping to your normal wake-up time on the weekends will make getting up easier during the week. If you do have a late night, instead of sleeping in, take a recovery nap. Try the Sleep Cycle Power Nap app to wake you at the right time in your sleep cycle to avoid the dreaded post-nap fog.
Take your workout outside. Calibrating your body with natural light is extremely helpful in becoming a morning person as well as adjusting to jet lag. Make a morning walk with the dog or to work a non-negotiable part of your routine. When on the road, get outside for a daylight walk or run as soon as possible.
Manage your caffeine intake. It may seem like the early riser’s secret weapon, but depending on how your body metabolizes caffeine, it may actually be doing you more harm than good. Try to cut off your coffee drip around noon or make the switch to green tea. Green tea blends caffeine with L-theanine, an amino acid with a calming effect, giving you a more subtle alertness without the coffee crash.
Do your homework. The real secret to morning effectiveness is doing some prep work the night before. Pick your outfit, review your schedule and to-do list, and prep breakfast (and lunch) before you go to bed. When on the road, check the route and schedule transportation if needed, get a wake-up call, and plan your breakfast. Waking up with a plan will alleviate stress and leave you feeling more confident and calm to start the day.
Again, consistency is key. If you use all these strategies on a regular basis you’ll have the world wondering: How does she look so perfect at 8 a.m.?