I was the guy you’d never call before 10am. For me, mornings were something to be endured, a time to drink coffee, find something to wear that was socially acceptable and attempt to begin work. I would communicate in a series of grunts and nods, and there was never anything in my diary until 12pm, a time that I considered to be the actual start of the day. I saw myself as shirking the traditional bonds of dictated working hours through grunty rebellion, and silent protest until midday.

Now, I’m up every morning at 6am, hanging out with my daughter, irritating my wife with too much energy and getting stuck into the day. I feel better — like I’ve got a jump start on the rest of the world, and my morning coffee is more about enjoyment than fuel. Anyone who knew me a few short years ago would be shocked and likely suspicious at the transformation, or as a former colleague put it, “Are you still up from last night?”

This metamorphosis didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process of increased awareness and a removal of excuses. The reason behind the change? I felt like I was missing out; meeting friends in the morning, going to early events, seeing the sun rise, hearing kids playing outside. The real wakeup call came when I ended up being two hours late to a friends birthday party having overslept. The worst part was, she wasn’t angry; she just accepted that I was unreliable in the morning.

That’s not cool.

So, I made some changes –

1. I gave myself a bedtime.

Just like a three year old, I told myself I had to go to bed at a certain time each night without excuses. As I used to enjoy watching movies, reading books and generally wasting time into the early hours, this was a significant shift.

2. I gave myself a ‘get up,’ time.

This was by far the hardest part, and I overestimated my ability to get up, based on my new early bedtime. On the first day, having set my alarm for 5am, I rolled over and went back to sleep. The following day, I set the alarm for 730am. The following day, for 720am, and so it continued in ten minute increments.

3. Alarm clock positioning

It’s an old trick, but works a treat. I put my phone, which I use as my alarm, on the other side of the room, forcing me to get out of bed when it went off. I also put a glass of water next to my phone, giving me something to do, and had the coffee machine ready to go in the kitchen, offering me an addiction based incentive to move my tired carcass out of the bedroom.

4. I got movin’!

Don’t judge me, I’m on my fourth midlife crisis. The first one involved skydiving, the second was a motorbike, the third was all about yoga and meditation and now I’m on skateboarding. I think I look awesome and my daughter doesn’t like to be seen with me. Every morning, I jump on the skateboard and wobble my way around a few streets before getting stuck into my day. I’ve found that this type of movement first thing, usually involving a bit of sweat and the occasional graze, gets my heart racing and makes my mind clear. It also gives me a sense of relativity — there’s nothing more scary in my day than the prospect of falling off my board in front of a Lycra-clad group of guys sharing the road with me and offering glares of contempt. Makes writing that complex press release seem like a piece of cake!

Getting up has changed my day in more ways than one, the most notable being bedtime; I now fall into bed exhausted and happy, even looking forward to passing out. My days are more full, somehow my time seems more valuable, and I’m more engaged in what I’m doing. Most importantly, I feel in control of my day, and get that awesome time with my daughter, after my skateboard.

Originally published at medium.com