I have a confession to make. I am 36 and have been a nocturnal guy for most of my life and career. My most productive parts of the day (okay, night) would be from 11 pm to 2 am, where I used to get most of my creative work done. I thoroughly detested waking up in the morning for an early meeting with clients. Social commitments were a stretch, as most events happen first thing in the day, and I would end up groggy-eyed in the wedding, stifling yawns till I could drag myself to the food counters.

I had a bunch of colleagues who used to prod me into trying a morning routine (yes, we all have those friends) and I used to berate them for trying to change me and my lifestyle. But one fine day, I happened to chance upon 2 books, ‘Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod and ‘Why We Sleep’ by Mathew Walker and that book changed my perception of trying a morning routine. I know, I see your eyes rolling on such a cliched trope, but here is why and how it went down.

My daughter’s school started at 8.20 in the morning, and I used to miss this opportunity to bond with her while dropping her off to school. A few more years and she would be doing that stretch by herself, and I would end up regretting it in my final days, that I lost the chance to have this quality time with her. So I decided I had to give my morning routine a shot. I had this nagging fear in the back of my mind that I might end up like a sloth-man constantly playing catch-up with sleep, vainly trying to find my outlet in the absence of my previous nightly slot.

“Your habits will determine your future.” – Jack Canfield

I started out doing the SAVERS technique which Hal elaborates in his book. And while I think it is a crummy acronym, all of the techniques work well, if you do them consistently. The reason why I am writing this is to provide additional commentary to the SAVERS technique as a recently-turned-morning person and how you too could benefit from making that shift as a nocturnal person.

Start slow and easy, the night before

Please do not try to drag yourself to bed at 9-10 pm, thinking this would help you wake up in the morning. You might only end up staring wide-eyed at the ceiling until 2 am. The things that will help you hit the bed at the right time to wake up refreshed are the activities that lead up to your bed-time routine. Some of them might be patronizing (I felt the exact way you are reading through this), but I decided to keep my prejudice aside for trying this out once to see if it helped.

No Alcohol or caffeine after 7 pm: I am a teetotaller, but I drink copious amounts of coffee (no time was a bad time for coffee, according to me) so abstaining from reaching for that coffee mug after 7 pm was tough. I ended up replacing the 8 pm coffee with a 10 pm hot chocolate (without sugar) and that worked wonders in settling me down for bed.
No TV and mobile viewing an hour before bed: This was the most unsettling part. We used to watch TV during and right after dinner as a routine, and there was always Instagram and LinkedIn (beware that endless scroll) to browse through in bed. This was tough too, but agreeing on this routine with my wife helped make both of us accountable, and a few days of bickering later, we were able to make it work.
Affirmations for bedtime: The affirmations that Hal talks about to perform in the morning work well in your bedtime routine too. Consistently telling yourself that you need to wake up at 6 am right before you sleep, is a subconscious way of telling your brain that this needs to happen. It might take a few more alarms before you internalize it, but give it time.

Take a power nap, if you have to

Settling into a morning routine in the first week is tough, and you might find yourself frequently hitting the lows as early as 11 am. Chances are you reach out for the coffee mug and you hit the depth again right after lunch. Then you go down that endless spiral of pumping yourself with caffeine until you get to finally go home and crash.

To avoid this unfortunate series of events, it is better to yield and time yourself for a short nap of 15-20 min. Now before you cry hoarse and say you will get fired if your boss caught you napping, I am only recommending this right before lunchtime. Take a bio break or catch these winks in a break room, and if you work remotely, take a quick nap on the couch. These 15-20 minutes have helped me reset my sleep patterns effectively and give me a boost in productivity, way more than any coffee would grant me.

Run the morning errands

If you feel running errands is no mighty purpose to give up on sleep in the morning, think again. It has been widely studied that making the bed first thing in the morning helps stimulate a sense of accomplishment and sets the course for the day. In my case, setting the bed, getting the daughter ready for school and getting the morning walk in the sun has made a huge difference in the motivation to wake up every day. Again, sharing the motivational goals with the family helps. My wife takes the evening shopping done, while I step out in the morning to finish household chores.

These simple techniques, combined with the SAVERS technique by Hal Elrod, have helped me get into the morning routine and (brace for it) also start enjoying it. I get my creative streak to write in multiple intervals during the day, and not just in the wee hours of the night. And last but not least, I get to talk to my daughter every day on our bike ride to school and she waves to me right before she enters the school gates, which is the best reward any father could ask for to make his day, every day.

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If achieving success was easy or there was a simple blueprint for it, everyone would be successful. However, there’s still a lot to be said for learning from the best and seeing what has worked for them, because adopting good habits can only help you. In that spirit, it’s always interesting to learn about the daily rituals of successful people, because how they live their lives must have an impact on what they have achieved.

This infographic below shows how many of the most famous and successful women in history have planned out their days, whether they were writers, artists, reality TV show stars or athletes and there’s a lot to learn from them. Even comparing their routines is fascinating, like seeing when and how much they all slept on a daily basis, with dancers Josephine Baker and Pina Bausch living almost nocturnal existences while some, like the Marquise du Deffand, seemed to hardly need any sleep at all.

The amount of time spent working is also fascinating, with some spending much of their waking time doing it and others seeming to only need short bursts of activity, like playwright Lillian Hellman and Oprah Winfrey, while the aforementioned Pina Bausch made up for her lack of sleep by working for almost her entire day. Exercise, meanwhile, has only become a regular part of the daily lives of the more recent successful women, no matter whether that’s mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey or homemaking queen Martha Stewart.

One thing notable from all of these women is that they don’t waste much time, with most of them using down time in the mornings to organize their homes and families, deal with their letters (or emails) or indulge in some self-care. Why not check out each of their daily rituals and see which of them looks like the kind of life you could start to try out on your road to success?

Here is the Infographic from BodyLogicMD that shows the daily rituals of famous women throughout history:

Daily routines of successful women

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