Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it. ~Richard Whately
I’ve always tended to be an early riser but it wasn’t until I stumbled across an excellent article that talked about how successful executives used their mornings that I got the inspiration to really make the most of them myself.
I have got myself into a nice habit of rising at 4.30am. Between 4.30am and 6.00am is ‘me’ time – I work on personal projects, read and set a few personal things to get done for the day.
I aim to get into the office for about 6.30am, where I get almost two hours of uninterrupted time before most people starting getting in. I use this time to plan the work day ahead, organize my calendar, get on top of my emails and often get a solid 90 minutes to myself to do some of the most important things on my plan for the day.
It’s without doubt the most productive thing I had EVER done. Some days I feel like I achieve more between 6.30am and 9.00am than I did the entire day previously!
I see people coming in just a few minutes before 9.00am and they literally have only moments to turn on their computer before being met with a full inbox, several requests for their attention and often a meeting that starts at 9.00am. It’s then normally a dogfight through to the end of the day. I feel almost guilty for having such an unfair advantage
So, when I finished the Like a Virgin by Richard Branson (reviewing coming soon) and the kindle recommended several similar books, ‘What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast’ by Laura Vanderkam naturally caught my eye (I think Laura actually wrote that article I read sometime ago). At 5 bucks and only 35 pages, I purchased it and I was reading it within minutes
The book is fantastic. Not only does it contain advice that can literally change your life – it’s short, really easy to read and super cheap!
Here are some of my notes from the book. I really encourage you to buy the book as there are some great examples and further context that are important.
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam:
- Out of 20 executives questioned, 18 rose very early – in fact the latest any of the 18 were up regularly was 06.00am
- Early mornings are the time we have the most control over our schedules (it’s quiet and we can think clearly)
- Early mornings are a perfect time for focused work and exercise
- The morning is best used for:
- Nurturing your career – strategising and focused work
- Nurturing relationships – spending time and thinking about family and friends
- Nurturing self – exercise, spiritual, creative pursuits
- Early mornings are a perfect time for important, not urgent things – personal projects, communications and thinking
- It’s not unusual to achieve more before 9am than you used to the entire day
- Design your morning – having a schedule / routine is important to make the best use of the early hours
- Be careful not to overdesign your morning. I fell into this trap to start with and tried to plan the most jam packed, perfect 3 hours and often didn’t achieve it and felt bad. To start with keep things simple and focus on creating one strong new habit each morning (i.e. run, read etc.) and then let the routine unfold from there over time
- Rising early can be a hard habit to create – start small and rise just 15 mins earlier than you would normally – after a 4 or 5 days, rise another 15 minutes earlier and repeat until you are rising when you want
- Choose things to do in the morning that you actually enjoy doing. If it feels like a slog or chore, you’re unlikely to get out of bed and get at it
- Consider using some time in the morning for gratitude – take some time to list the things you’re thankful for, it can be a great way to start the morning
- One person was quoted to send an appreciation email every morning to someone. This could be family, friends or a colleague. I thought this was pretty cool.
A few extra tips from my own experience:
- Skipping breakfast can be a great way to remain productive in the morning. I got into this habit when I was experimenting with intermittent fasting and have never looked back. My first meal of the day is normally about 1pm and it’s actually surprising how much more focused and productive you can be when you don’t need to worry about making and eating breakfast.
- Rising early can be a hard habit to nail. Get straight out of bed when the alarm sounds – DO NOT snooze and don’t be tempted by ‘just another 5 minutes’ – you WILL fall back to sleep! Putting your alarm over the other side of the room is a good tactic to force yourself out of bed.
- I’ve read many great articles on rising early and morning routines over at Zen Habits. Here are a few I liked – My Morning Routine, How I became an early riser & 10 Benefits to rising early and how to do it
- Go to bed at a reasonable time. Everyone is different in respect to how much sleep they generally need (although I think most can survive and get used to less than they think). I generally need about 6 hours so getting to bed for about 10.00pm is key. Just count back how many hours you need from your getting up time to ensure you get enough sleep.
I’ve slipped a little in getting up early and getting a great, productive start to the day lately – I probably manage 04.30am only 2 or 3 days of the week at the moment. I’m going to work on being more consistent with this and am also going to design a new morning routine to include some form of exercise.
If you have a morning routine or have any questions about rising early or morning routines, leave a comment!