I’ve always been a morning person, so maybe it is easier for me…but when I wake up in the morning (usually at 5am) I have a couple of options:
- Do I press the snooze button and go back to sleep? Sleep is important after all. That’s what the doctors say.
- Do I wake up and get started working out?
- Do I wake up and make a healthy breakfast?
- Do I get up and start writing? Get up and read?
- Or should I get up and start reading emails and doing work…
What we do with our morning matters. Especially in my case, one of the only opportunities I have to work without other distractions and get in that state of “flow” (that allows you to me to be hyper-productive) is in the morning hours.
So, what are some ways we can make our mornings matter? This is something I’m constantly struggling with and consistently challenging myself as well. There never seems to be enough time to go around to get done everything I want to in a day…and I’m sure you feel the same way.
Here are five ways that have helped me make my mornings matter. But I’m still working on it!
1: Plan Ahead
One of the great things about planning your week, or month, or even a longer time frame is the impact it can have on the actions you take to start each day. Each week I set up a plan for the week. What big goals do I want to accomplish? What ideas do I want to flesh out? What reading do I want to get done? Who do I want to reach out to? What are the various priorities on my plate?
Throughout the week, things are going to change. There are going to be new opportunities, challenges, and distractions. Yet, the weekly plan gives me focus each day on what I should be working on during my mornings. Sometimes you have to be flexible, but the structure actally will give you more time to move things around.
For example, I’ve been focused on writing a lot of fiction lately. The big picture goals I’ve created for the month have filtered down to my weekly and daily goals.
2: Take Care of Yourself/Body
This is one that people talk a lot about, but it is very hard to workout or do anything physically active after a long work day. You can be bogged down, stressed, and there is a lot going on at that time of the day. You come home to family and your life…and working out is hard to do after a day has taken place. This is different for everyone, and maybe that is not the best time for you…but for most people I know, it is almost impossible to work out after work.
For me, whenever I’ve stuck with a workout routine, it has been during the morning. The added benefit is that you feel great the rest of the day. You’ve accomplished something that you normally put off (like I do), and it gives you so much more energy.
3: Read or Write
James Clear recently wrote a post on how he is reading 36 books a year. How you may ask? He reads 20 pages everyday when he wakes up.
Do the math. If you consistently read 20 pages each morning, you are going to end up reading a lot of books in a short amount of time. The key is to keep this habit going over time. You’ll also be more likely to read at other times of the day if a particular passage or part of the book hooks you. This will help your mind, get you thinking, and motivate you (depending what you are reading).
One of my goals every year is to “read more”. But the problem is I never quantify how much more. Maybe you only want to read 20 books a year…then you can lower the number of pages you read each morning, and still reach your goal. It is the action in the beginning of the day (every day) that drives results.
The same goes for writing. I wrote a post, ‘The Power of Writing Every Day” that describes what I was able to accomplish by sticking to a writing schedule each and every morning. I’ve never been more productive in accomplishing so many goals.
4: Complete Your Most Difficult Task
I read a free book called “The Flinch“. The book talked about how there is always those tasks that we put off. I’m the worst at this! They can be small or maybe very important…but it is usually something we don’t feel like doing and continue to “forget about”. The Flinch is finding those pain points and tasks that make you “flinch” and tackle them in the beginning of the day right when you get up before any other distractions cause you to put it off to the side and forget like I so often do.
While I still have these “flinch” moments, acknowledging what they are makes all the difference, and taking care of them in the morning is the best way I’ve found to fight the flinch.
5: Think Big
It is very easy to fall into the trap of waking up and checking your email, social media accounts, messages etc…but when you do this you essentially give up your mornings to someone else. Morning is the time to think big about not only your goals…but the possibilities that lay ahead. It is time to throw rational thinking to the side…and take a moment to think: What if?
Use these “What if?” moments to drive you forward. You may not try all of the “what if?” thoughts (and that is probably a good thing)…but thinking this way gives you the potential to do great work.
How do you make your mornings matter?