Lose an hour in the morning and you will spend all day looking for it. - Richard Whately
Since I became intentional (one of my favorite words) about my mornings I have been more productive than I thought possible. My business has flourished and my work-life blend has gotten even better.
For about a year I got up around 4:30a. I would proudly tell people I got up that early. What I didn’t tell them was that getting up earlier didn’t make me more productive. I felt less productive because I didn’t have a plan to take advantage of my earlier schedule. I would get up without a clear purpose and end up flittering my “bonus hours” away.
I eventually realized what I was doing wrong. I didn’t have a plan to win the morning. So, I came up with one. The words “morning person” mean different things to different people. If you are a morning person, those words are a badge of honor and pride. If you aren’t a morning person those words conjure rolling eyeballs and snide remarks.
FULL CONFESSION: Most of my life I wasn’t a morning person. I was a night owl. I could stay up all night to get things done. For the night owls reading this, I get you. As I transitioned from a night owl to an early bird, I noticed a few things. I get more done, I am far more rested, less cranky and overall a nicer person to be around. So, whether you are a night owl or an early bird, these hacks can work for you.
Start with you
One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was waking up and getting right to work. Well, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, I hear you asking. Yes, but not before you get centered and focused for the day.
Read something inspirational, meditate, pray, exercise, or do all of the above. Reserve the first hour of your day for yourself. This hour sets the tone for the rest of your day. Use it to clarify your priorities for the day and identify the most important tasks you need to accomplish. Don’t skip your “you time” because it’s critical to winning the morning and then the day. Here’s my morning routine.
Go to bed earlier
You don’t need an alarm clock when you get enough sleep. The alarm clock is there to wake you up because you didn’t get enough sleep. This may be one of the biggest adjustments to make. If you normally stay up to 12:30a to catch the late late show, that makes it difficult to get up at 5:30a. Figure out how many hours you need to sleep and do the math. If you want to wake up at 5:30a and need 7 hours of sleep to feel rested, then you should be in bed by 9 or 9:30p.
Get up with purpose
Is today the day you close the sale, meet a new client, complete a project, raise venture capital, or get a promotion? Maybe not, but it’s the day you take a few steps closer to achieving your goals. That’s huge. The big payoffs come after many regular days you spent focused completing the small tasks that have a big impact.
Has this ever happened to you? You get up, go to your email and find out that something awful has happened that needs your immediate attention. How did the rest of that day go? Reading your email first seems like a great idea until you realize that it puts you in a reactionary mindset. Reading your email first seems like a great idea until you realize that it puts you in a reactionary mindset.
You end up putting out fires, responding to clients and dealing with politics before you have had a chance to get your priorities oriented for the day. Reading your email first can cause an otherwise
smashing day to veer off the tracks in just a few seconds. Don’t do it.
Create a routine
Don’t leave anything to chance. This may be a big shift in your behavior so you will need a plan to win the morning. Decide how your mornings will go. Decide when you will wake up, what you will focus on first, when you will check email, and what inspirational ideas you will consume before you start your day.
Once you decide how you will structure your mornings, keep your promise to yourself. Pick a spot for your routine and commit to doing it for 30 days. If you want a bit of encouragement with that check out my free 30 days of success series.
Winning the morning is crucial to your long-term success. What do you do to get yourself focused and ready for the day? I would love to hear your routines and hacks.