I was (though I should not have been) surprised that the post on the afternoon slot blues elicited requests for a post on how to handle the morning slot for those who are not morning people at all. It is natural that given the binary nature of tendencies at a broad level, for every aspirant who is a morning person there will be a corresponding night owl. I can’t say I have a cure for this but I can put forward a tentative plan that those uncomfortable with a morning slot can try out over the next few weeks.
Personally, I am not a morning person either, I would call myself a mid-morning person (I work best between 11 and 2). My natural time to wake up without an alarm (irrespective of when I sleep) is 7, the real waking up time is between 7:30 and 8:00. Whenever I have to wake up earlier than 7, usually to catch an early morning flight, I end up not sleeping that well since I am aware of having to wake up, and if I have to wake up before 6, I barely sleep.
Now if I have to take the test in a morning slot this is far from an ideal situation on test day. But personally, for me, it will not be a problem because I will coast through on the pure adrenaline rush and sheer play that taking a test is for me. A lot of it comes from the fact that I enjoy taking tests and am good it as well, I am sure those of you who enjoy cricket or football or any other sport and are good at it (in the peer group with whom you play) can go and play well even without a good night’s sleep. But test-taking might be something that most normal people might not enjoy or look forward to. So given this, your task is to ensure that you are as physically and mentally switched on as possible by 9:30 A.M.
Change your sleep schedule
The first thing is to ensure that you start sleeping early; sleep with at a time that will give you the required the quota of sleep, which varies from person to person, to get up at 6 AM.
This is very obvious but the key lies in how to get this done.
To fall asleep naturally at 10 or 11 might not be easy for those who usually hit the sack after 12, for this happen you have to be terribly tired.
So if you want to start waking up at 6 AM from Thursday morning
- put a night out on Tuesday night (go binge-watch your favourite show, hang out with friends, minus any intoxication)
- do not sleep at all, not a wink on the whole day through to Wednesday
- take a warm water bath and have dinner by 9 PM
- switch off your phone, set an alarm for 6 AM
- get into bed with a book and you will crash
Once you do this on day one, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 every evening.
Each one of you will need a different amount of sleep to feel fresh, 6 to 8 hours (if it is more than 8 then God can help you), so vary the timing of your dinner so that you sleep 90 to 120 minutes after having eaten.
Switching off your phone is crucial since it will eat into another 30 or 45 minutes and the bigger damage is that exposure to white light will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Ensure that you wake up and change your morning schedule
The above part is the easy part, the getting up when the alarm goes off is possibly the toughest thing in the world, at least for the night owls. Hence, for this, you will need an enforcer.
You have to designate someone to take the responsibility to bug the hell out of you to get out of bed. The best person for such a job has to be one of your parents, this might be something that they have always wanted to do to you for a long time. If you stay away from them, ask them to call you twice — once to bug you to turn off your phone off at night and one in the morning to keep calling you till you are up. Am sure this is a task that will make them very happy.
The reason I say that you need an enforcer is that studies have shown that will power is something that is highly over-rated and enervating, for example, more than having the things that you crave in front of you and then using will power to resist it, it is easier to ensure that you do not go into those situations or not have those things around. Similarly, using the help of others is a wiser, more self-aware way of going about things than watching more and more motivation videos to get pumped up to wake up (after a point motivation videos only make money for their creators, and if you need to keep watching them, then they are anyway not doing their job).
For those who are not used to waking up at 6, grogginess can be a big factor, so waking up and having a cup of coffee (black works best) might be the best way to switch on all of the lights. But making good black coffee can be an ordeal and it is addictive, also once the caffeine wears off, you can come crashing down, so taking a couple of Brahmi capsules after freshening up might be a better option.
Insomnia induced by test-day nerves
I am sure there are those of you who know that you will not be able to sleep the night before the CAT. The sheer nervousness, you are sure, will have you tossing and turning all night.
Even in this case the best option is to pull an all-nighter two nights before the CAT and not sleep during the day that follows so that the night before the CAT, fatigue will overcome nervousness and your body will crash to sleep. Do not leave this for the end, try it once or twice before.
More importantly, I feel that you should change the way you think of yourself with respect to the test. If you are operating from a space where you are still a school kid who is scared of tests, then you cannot get over the nerves. You have to understand that you cannot view the test in isolation.
If you want to be a management professional and do a course that is aimed at producing business leaders (if we go by the structure of the course, my personal experience of the course, and the mission statements of most b-schools) then you have to start behaving and thinking like a management professional and future business leader right now.
If you cannot handle this pressure at 21-22, then very frankly I do not see how you will manage and lead people in the future. If you will be a nervous wreck as a boss then God help your team-mates. And you can take it from me in writing that even your work life will have enough and more stressful situations that will have high stakes. Why wait till then, your MBA will have enough and more stressful situations, with placements possibly being the most stressful of all. Everything you want to be in the future you have to show potential today.