“For most people, mornings are great for habits,” Rubin explains. And she would know. The bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home is finishing up a new book all about habit formation. (Better Than Before comes out next March.)
“Our self-control tends to be strongest in the early hours,” she says. “As the day goes on, it gets depleted by all the temptations and choices we face.” Plus, the morning tends to unfold in a predictable way. “Later on, complications arise and you may end up pushing off the activity.”
But resetting your alarm clock—and your body’s natural rhythm—to start a new habit, whether it’s meditating or jogging, can be painful. (For me, it has become a daily habit of hitting snooze, with the hope that any day now, I really will hit the gym before work!) That’s why Rubin suggests seizing the end of Daylight Savings Time, when getting up early doesn’t actually feel like getting up early.
If you’ve been thinking about joining a yoga studio, instituting a regular walk with a friend, blocking out time to read for pleasure, or picking up any other healthy habit, try starting this Sunday. Just make sure it’s an activity you enjoy, says Rubin. “If it’s something you want to do, you’ll be more motivated to get out of bed every day going forward.”
One caveat for night owls: This trick probably isn’t for you. “There are some people who prefer to stay up late, but struggle in the morning,” Rubin says. “For them, a morning habit won’t make sense.” Heed your true nature, she says, and schedule your healthy habits at times that work best for you.