I’m not a morning person. Don’t even talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.
I also have 4 kids (and a wife), so for me, the only time I get to myself is early in the morning. So guess what? I’m teaching myself to become a morning person.
And you know what? It’s really not that bad getting up early. I actually enjoy it.
I’ve been reading a book lately called The Early to Rise Experience by Andy Traub. It’s kind of a guided walk through establishing new productivity habits by being selfish with your time early so you can give it away later in the day. It’s a simple premise, but it really does make a difference. Here’s what I think is in the “secret sauce”:
- You’re at the top of your game first thing in the morning – energy is the currency of life. By the time you get home after work and have dinner and get the kids in bed, you’re literally spent. Whatever you have left isn’t going to accomplish much – sorry, but you’re useless.
- It allows you to put “first things first” – one of the key cogs to David Allen’s GTD system is the “weekly review”. Anytime GTD “doesn’t work” for someone, it is because they are not reviewing regularly. When you get up early, you have time to put thing in their proper place and plan out your day. Essentially, you attack your day before your day attacks you.
- When you “eat your frog” in the morning, you’ve already done something significant – Brian Tracy wrote a great book called Eat That Frog which is based on the famous Mark Twain quote “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The gist of it is that if you do that hard thing you’ve been putting off because you don’t have enough energy first thing in the morning then the rest of your day gets easier.
Andy Traub says that 1 minute a day can change your life. The minute you hear your alarm clock to off, you have a choice – get up and attack your day with intentionality, or stay in bed and let it happen to you instead. Hitting the snooze is the epitome of the unstable man in James 1:8, who’s tossed to and fro by the waves of life. This man most likely knows he should be getting up earlier and being more prepared for his day, but just can’t bring himself to actually do it. He waits until the last possible moment to do just about anything – not just get out of bed. This is the guy in Matthew 25:14–30 who did nothing with his talent – don’t be that guy!
If you find yourself in this position, good news – you don’t have to live that way! Here are 5 things you can do to make a change:
- Think a day ahead – suddenly never happens suddenly – it’s the cumulative result of choices you’ve made over a period of time. If you think ahead (i.e. go to bed early), you can break the habit chain and set yourself up for success tomorrow. If you string together enough of these “small wins”, you’ll find yourself winning the war.
- Get Organized – being disorganized costs you more than you know. David Allen says that many people operate in “emergency scan modality” because they’re not organized enough to know what they’re supposed to be doing at any given time. Ed Cole said it this way: “the man without an organized system of thought will always be at the mercy of the man who has one.” Don’t let your life just happen to you and then get stressed out because you don’t have control – take control, today!
- Visualize success – picture the perfect morning, whatever that looks like to you. Is it having coffee with your significant other before the kids get up? Going for a run? Walking the dog? Hitting the gym? Whatever it is, WRITE IT DOWN! On the paper, off the mind. Habakkuk 2:2 says to write the vision down so that people may run with it – you’ll never move yourself until you write it down.
- Start TODAY! – don’t wait until tomorrow to stop procrastinating. I’ve written about it before, but the graveyard is full of people who ran out of tomorrows. You don’t need a lifetime to become great at something, you just need to be consistent. Just start! Karen Lamb once said “A year from now you will wish you had started today.”
- Give yourself some grace – you won’t hit your goal 100% of the time. Some morning you will fail. That’s OK! As Jon Acuff says, “some beats none every time”. Every time you do succeed you are creating and reenforcing a new success habit. Just keep going!
Make it happen, cap’n!