How An Old School Alarm Clock Completely Changed My Life

I know what you’re thinking…

An alarm clock? Really, Elizabeth?

It sounds crazy, but I’m telling you – this tiny little gadget has improved my morning (and therefore, my entire day) in more ways than I can even comprehend.

But first, a little back story…

I used to hate the mornings. Hate them. Not in a, “Oh I need a cup of coffee to get going” kind of way; more like, “If you contact me before 10am, expect a greeting from Satan.”

And it was like that for as long as I could remember.

Even throughout law school and my time as an attorney – when early rising just came with the job – I dreaded that stupid sound from my phone every day at 6am. I was the Queen of Snoozing and I made a habit of condensing my entire morning routine into exactly 28 minutes so I could sleep as long as possible.

Needless to say, I was a bit of a hot mess back then.

My sleep schedule got even wackier when I left the law and started working for myself. Without any mandatory working hours, I found myself staying up well past 2am and sleeping in until 11 or even noon.

I was my own boss now, and fuck the system, ya know?

But then something started to shift. All of a sudden my days seems incredibly short. Since Joel was working on a traditional schedule, sleeping in late meant that I had approximately 6ish hours to myself each day before he came home. And you know what those hours were spent doing?

Work. All the damn time.

There was no time for yoga. No time to journal. No time to cook or watch my favorite TV show or even paint my damn nails. Every second of those 6 hours was spent cranking out copy until we had dinner, hung out for a bit, and I continued working after he went to sleep.

Talk about two ships passing in the night.

Then one day Apple rolled out an annoyingly useful little feature that allows you to see exactly how much time you’re spending on your beloved iPhone. Turns out, I had a lot more time than I thought.

I was just spending it on my phone.

We’re talking upwards of 6-8 hours EVERY DAY, people.

That’s when I knew something had to change. How could I stand in front of a room of students preaching mindfulness and self care when I wasn’t doing any of that myself? I knew that I needed to find a way to lessen screen time while also building a more healthy sleep schedule. So, like any good Millennial, I headed to Amazon.

I found the cutest little green analog alarm clock with nature sounds – and it only cost $17. Sold.

Right then and there, I made a big promise to myself…

I will not keep my phone on my nightstand anymore.

And so I did. I learned how to actually tell time again, how to set an alarm clock the way I once did back in elementary school, and moved my phone charger to the opposite end of the room.

Almost immediately, I felt withdrawal symptoms.

After about a week of waking up to the soothing sounds of some birds chirping, I noticed a change. My morning routine used to consistent of snoozing the alarm for an hour, reluctantly waking up because I had to pee, and then scrolling through Instagram or CNN for the next hour and a half.

Not so much anymore.

These days, I almost never snooze my alarm. I wake up feeling refreshed and happily head to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. Then (and this is where the magic happens) I roll out my mat. I do yoga, meditate, and journal. Every. Single. Morning. Sometimes I just lay there in supported Child’s Pose listening to a podcast. Sometimes I snuggle with my dog.

But what I never do is check my phone. Not until I’m through with my sacred morning ritual, showered, and ready to take on the day.

Now I’m not saying we need to go cold-turkey and abandon our screens altogether (in all honesty, those people really irk the shit out of me). What I am proposing though, is a little more mindfulness.

We’re all busy – crazy busy in fact. And that craziness can make it incredibly difficult to carve out time just for ourselves. But the thing is, we all have the option to wake up 30 or 60 minutes earlier. We can use that time not for work or projects or family, but just for ourselves.

And the best way to do that, I’ve found, is if the apps and notifications can’t get in the way.

So here’s my challenge – give it a try. Buy a cheap little alarm clock with no screens or temperature readings or that has anything to do with Alexa. Create a charging station far away from your bed or, better yet, in another room and put your phone to sleep every night. Do it for one week and let me know how much time you’ve rediscovered.

ps: this is the exact alarm clock I bought and I love it. It only plays nature sounds and there’s something incredibly soothing about waking up to what sounds like a flock of pigeons every morning…

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