It’s hard to make time for your own stuff. You likely have other priorities that take up most of your day, like work. Work always gets in the way, doesn’t it? But alas, you have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and money to make. I used to run into this problem when I had a big, corporate 9 to 5 job.

Waking up earlyI’ve recently run into this problem again trying to finish my book. Even though I enjoy my work much more now, I still have a lot to do during the day, and by the time I finish it all, the only thing I want to do is zone out on Orange is the New Black. So when, exactly, do I squeeze in more time to write?

For me, the best solution is waking up early. It’s what Stephen King, Maya Angelou, and Kurt Vonnegut did, and it seemed to work out well for them.

Waking up early means you have time to yourself. (Can you even imagine?) The house is quiet, the emails haven’t rolled in–or if they have, nobody expects you to reply for another three hours because they think you’re still asleep. Your boss is still asleep, too, so she hasn’t sent you a deluge of texts or Slack pings. Waking up early means you can take your time to make coffee, have breakfast, and ease into the day in the right mindset. You can prioritize your tasks instead of jumping into them feet first and then struggling to keep your head above water the rest of the day.

In other words, waking up early gives you the ideal environment for getting shit done.

A lot of this depends on whether or you’re a night owl or a morning person (research shows most of us fall somewhere in the middle), but for the most part, waking up early ensures you’re using your best hours on the things that matter to you most. 

Of course, the challenge is convincing your Morning Self of all of these benefits. You set your alarm, go to bed with the best intentions, and you’re fully prepared to wake up early and crank out a blog post or book chapter. This is it, you think. I’m finally going to turn things around!  Then, your alarm goes off and Morning You ruins everything. You run through a slew of justifications before dismissing your alarm and succumbing to the warm blanket and cool pillow.

One morning this week, my alarm went off and, of course, my brain started flipping through all of the justifications: Maybe I don’t have that much work after all. Maybe I can ask for a longer deadline. Maybe I just won’t publish this book. Maybe I’ll sleep for a year instead. I was just about to close my eyes and drift back off into dreamland when I had I thought: I could get up now and feel in control of my day, or I could sleep in and feel like someone else has control over it. The thought was so depressing and simultaneously motivating that I got out of bed immediately.

I’ve been using it as a motivator to wake up early every day since, and surprisingly, it’s worked. I think it works because it’s just so true: when I wake up early, I do feel in control of my day, and that feels so damn good. The rest of my day runs smoothly. I feel productive. I feel confident. When I sleep in, I wake up responding to email, replying to my editor, rushing to get coffee made so I can get to work as fast as possible. Waking up late feels a lot like giving other people control over my schedule.

I can’t guarantee this will work for you, but it’s something to keep in mind if your Morning Self is out to sabotage your intentions. Waking up early means setting the course for your own day. As good as it feels to sleep in, nothing feels better than having some sense of control over your situation.

What about you: are you a morning person? How do you convince yourself to wake up early?

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Kristin writes about money, travel, and human behavior at Lifehacker, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and Mentalfloss. She's also written for NBC News, Fox Digital, and Scripps Network Interactive. Learn more about her here.

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