Breakfast in (America) South Milford


I read a great article the other day. It was called ‘What successful people do before breakfast’ and it was in www.fastcompany.com– here’s the link if you’d like to read it in full.

By the time I’d finished reading I felt slightly inadequate. Here’s my morning routine. You’ll see why:

• Some time around 6:30 woken up by unhealthily exuberant child
• Stumble into shower
• Get dressed: turn computer on
• Breakfast mayhem for boys
• Agree with my wife when she tells me whose turn it is to take the children to school or bus-stop
• Check phone for sick-notes from TAB members
• Print off anything I need to print off if the computer has cranked into life. Wonder why I don’t have a Mac
• Engage brain, press ‘go,’ start another day and grab breakfast before a meeting…

So no… I don’t do three miles on a treadmill, I don’t take an online class, I don’t read professional magazines and I don’t ‘do art projects with your kids.’

If you haven’t guessed, the article was in an American magazine and it was written by a lady called Laura Vanderkam. You can find her book, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, here.

Of course, ‘stumble out of bed, get dressed, breakfast mayhem etc etc’ isn’t going to sell many books – and it’s easy to think my pre-breakfast shortcomings would be typical for most of us. But are they? Maybe we’re doing ourselves a disservice.

Apart from the online class and the art project with the kids, here are three other key recommendations which Laura makes;

1. Track your time: make sure you’re spending it wisely and that there’s no wasted time. Writing down how you spend your day is a fairly frightening exercise – how much of your time is actually spent productively can be a worryingly low percentage
2. Picture the perfect morning – ask yourself what your perfect morning would look like. Then make it happen.
3. Think through the logistics – a little bit of planning goes a long way, and ten minutes spent planning at seven can pay big dividends at eleven. If I’m working at home I find planning the morning absolutely essential: somehow time seems to ‘escape’ far more easily at home!

And now I’ve read through that list I’m slightly less critical of myself. No, I don’t track my time specifically, but when I leave home in the morning I do have an exact idea of what I’m doing and what I’m aiming to achieve that day. And somehow among the Cheerios, the lost gym kit and the school run I do find ten minutes to do some planning – and yes, it does pay dividends later in the day.

I chatted with a couple of very successful people about their early morning routine. Both of them – amid the noise and haste – found time to plan their day and to focus on what was really important. One of them claimed early morning as his most creative time of the day. “To be honest, Ed, if society and my wife and clients would allow it I’d start work at five in the morning, go straight through until twelve and then take the rest of the day off.”

We’re traditionally told to get a good start to the day – a healthy breakfast and all that. Having read Laura’s article I’m more convinced than ever that a bit of ‘you-time’ in the morning is as vital as the orange juice and the wholegrain. Planning, focus and a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve is ten minutes very well spent in the morning.

So what do you do before breakfast? Don’t think you’re going to escape – what’s the key thing you do – or that you like to achieve – before you set off for work? There will, of course, be a prize for anyone providing concrete evidence of ‘an art project with the kids…’

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3 comments

  1. Karen Nixon · June 22, 2012

    Completely agree about planning your day, Ed. It definitely helps you do more of the important stuff and not get caught up as much in firefighting. Thing is, mornings aren’t my strong point, so I try and do it at the end of each day for the next day.

  2. Jervaise · June 22, 2012

    I take the dogs for a 2 mile walk, and use that quiet time to think about what I’ve got to do that day. No art projects though, German Shepherd dogs are not very creative and don’t have opposable thumbs.

  3. Jo Clarkson · June 23, 2012

    Wow – early mornings in the Reid household sound much more fun than mine (though I don’t actually know what ‘Cheerios’ are they sound great!) For the last 30 years or so (!) I’ve usually had an average of an hour in my car each morning to get my brain into gear (and the same time to get it out of gear in the evening – equally important!) so I absolutely agree with you about planning – and the ‘fun’ part comes from the delights of 5 Live which I’m addicted to first thing in the morning. The combination of time to think and cheerful banter seems to do the trick for me…!

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