How the 2-by-3 rule can turn you into a morning person in less than a week

I know there are few things that divide people as much as being a morning person makes you more productive. Let’s assume for a moment that you are on the side of getting up early and getting things done. Even if that’s the case, chances are you naturally tend not to get out of bed before the sun comes up. That’s understandable, there’s a reason it’s considered a “natural” tendency.

But if you want to be more productive and have your mornings to get a head start on your day, becoming a morning person is a real value. I’m sure most of us can figure out a way to pass that time.

Thankfully, being a morning person isn’t even that hard, except for the part where you have to wake up and get out of bed. Unfortunately, that part is the whole problem for most people.

I do have a rule, though, and if you stick to it, you can become a morning person in less than a week. The rule is simple: set two alarms in the morning, three minutes apart. I call it the two-by-three rule.

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I’ll explain why this works in a moment, but first a few important things you should know. The second alarm should be set to the time you actually need to get up. No more setting a handful of alarms over the course of an hour. Anytime you hear an alarm and know you don’t really need to get up, you won’t either. Instead, just set two alarms and then get up.

Also, stop snoozing. It just doesn’t work. Whoever thought a nine-minute snooze—which you can hit forever—would help you get out of bed, was wrong. You end up lying there and the sound of your alarm annoys you, but you don’t really get up.

Finally, if you use your smartphone (which most people are), set the two alarms with different sounds. Over time, our brains get used to the sound of our alarm, and eventually we get to a point where we can just reach out and turn it off more like a reflex.

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The reason the two-by-three rule works is that you condition your brain to wake up at a specific time, rather than just when you want to wake up. The first alarm will help break your deep sleep. You won’t get up then, but if the second alarm goes off three minutes later, you haven’t completely fallen asleep and getting up becomes a lot easier.

That’s why you set your second alarm clock at the time you’ve decided to get up. That part is important. Don’t set it until you want to get up. The key is for your brain to know you really need to get up when that alarm goes off.

Of course, there are other things that can help you get up earlier, such as not consuming caffeine later in the day. In fact, the key to getting up early is starting the night before. Going to bed early enough to get another seven to nine hours of sleep is the first step.

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It can also help to create a nighttime routine that helps your body relax. Then setting two alarms, the second being the time you decided to get up, can help you retrain your sleep cycle. Give it a try for a week, you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be in the morning.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.

This post How the 2-by-3 rule can turn you into a morning person in less than a week

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