Let me just state right here at the outset that I am NOT a morning person. I have been known to hit the snooze button for over an hour. So after you read this next bit, believe me when I say, "I feel your pain."
We all complain that there are not enough hours in the day and that it is impossible to make time for ourselves in our already hectic schedules. So here is a suggestion to give yourself an extra hour in your day: Set your alarm clock one hour earlier.
I can hear your shrieks of outrage already. "Are you kidding?! I get up too early as it is!" I feel the exact same way. But that extra hour in the morning, before you start your regular routine, really is the easiest way to make more time in your day, and it is probably the most productive time of the day for me-time.
By getting up an hour early, your mind is fresh. You aren't thinking about the meeting you just had or the email you just read. You don't have kids to corral or chores to accomplish. Your brain is uncluttered and you can take advantage of that by scheduling one or two activities that will help you kick off your creativity or center yourself for the day.
One possibility for the hour is physical exercise. A brisk walk, that aerobics video, or some yoga is a healthy way to start your day. Some meditation can also be physically and mentally refreshing, just be careful that you don't meditate yourself back to sleep.
Another activity you can put into your routine is the Morning Pages, a staple of Julia Cameron's popular book, which I highly recommend, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Morning Pages are three pages of long-hand writing, written when you first get up. You write whatever pops into your head, and you write until all three pages are full. It is a great way to clear your mind and, at the same time, fill it with new ideas. You might be surprised at what you find yourself writing.
Creativity exercises make good activities for your morning wakeup routine. They are also good jumpstarts to your Morning Pages. Or if you want to go straight to your creative outlet, spend your extra hour painting, drawing, doodling, playing music, scrapbooking, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Towards the end of your time, you might take a moment to prepare for your day. What tasks do you have to accomplish? Write down a to-do list that you can check off as you complete items. What problems are you working on? Write down some ideas and strategies for possible solutions.
In the end, one hour less of sleep can actually make you feel better, more refreshed, and ready to take on your busy world with new and creative ideas. Skip the snooze button and give it a try.
Cameron, Julia. The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Perigee, 1992.