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…’