Daylight Savings Time (DST) might have you feeling invigorated by the extra 20 minutes or so of sunshine you’re catching on the way to work — or it may have plunged you into a disoriented purgatory of never knowing what time it is. For most of us, it’s a little bit of both. But pushing yourself to switch up your schedule because of the clock change is an opportunity to examine the rest of your schedule and see if there are other ways you can be maximizing productivity. If DST shows us anything, it’s that time is what we make of it. And since morning people make better decisions and feel happier and more satisfied with their lives in general, why not consider taking a page from those early risers’ book?

A woman stretches happily as she wakes in a bright room

People who wake up early tend to engage in productivity planning. Simply put, they recognize that all time has the potential to be equally valuable, even the time most of us would be tempted to waste hitting snooze over and over (and over). “What it really boils down to is that taking control of your morning lets you take control of your day. We all have days where we just wake up in a mood, or on the wrong side of the bed. Getting up at the last minute and rushing to work definitely does not help those occurrences,” shares Desiree Wiercyski, a life coach and mental health professional. “By carving out time for yourself before taking on the world, you give yourself the choice of how you want your day to go.”

While there are plenty of working strategies for becoming a morning person, none of these strategies will work in our favor over the long term if we aren’t properly motivated to manage our time. Once we understand that even adding 10 minutes to our morning can reduce anxiety for the rest of our day, waking up early can start to feel like something we get to do. Wiercyski had some wisdom about changing our mindset to match the reality of what getting up early can mean. “Embrace the fact that you decide what early is. You don’t need to wake up at 5am every single morning (or even most mornings). Play with setting your alarm just five minutes earlier to see how that goes.”

Plotting out our day the night before with chunks of time dedicated to specified tasks can mean our hours take on a sense of urgency and purpose, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel rushed. In fact, the effect tends to be the opposite when we begin to trust ourselves to get everything done that we need to do. And sneaking in some to-dos in the early morning hours can make that time feel like a treasure to savor as opposed to a race against the clock. “Is there something you’re always meaning to do, but never quite get to do, like reading the latest bestseller? Bump it up to the morning instead of planning to do it in the evening,” Wiercyski advises.

If you find yourself staring at a half-completed list of tasks at the end of every day, be kind to yourself about it. Make sure your expectations of what you can actually accomplish are reasonable, then work backwards toward becoming a person with better time-management skills. Complete non-negotiable tasks earlier in the day to avoid the fatigue of dreaded, difficult, or inconvenient projects hanging over your head. And be proactive about the way your day looks by actually writing out the amount of time you think each obligation will take you to accomplish before you even tackle the day ahead.

Embracing life as a morning person might feel like it’ll put a damper on your social life, but you may actually find it easier to relax because you’re putting your mind and body to work in healthier ways. As we work to use our “extra” hour to its maximum potential, remember that small habits — like taking five minutes to answer emails first thing in the morning and making the effort to visualize the way our day will unfold on our way to work — are the ones that will eventually add up to make a big impact.

Have you decided to embrace life as a morning person? Tell us why (or why you’d never!) on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)