Attempts To Do What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

About a month ago, I penned a piece for BNET called “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” The idea is how to use your mornings intentionally and start your day off right. For some reason, that particular headline has turned out to be total reader bait. It’s like people are compelled to click on it. An initial surge of traffic drew a lot of comments, which then pushed it up the ranks of business headlines, landing it on LinkedIn’s list of posts to read, with the net result that it’s had well over 200,000 views. It continues to get a few thousand more every weekday, which I think is awesome for many reasons (such as my getting paid by the click!)

Anyway, as people write me about their attempts to use their mornings, I’m examining my own. With the summer sun coming up early as we near the solstice, I’ve been popping up awake at about 5:30AM. No alarm clock (unless you count the kicks of the little girl I’m expecting in October — she seems to like to wake up with the sun too). I think of my work day as starting around 8AM, so that leaves a lot of time to fill. Of course, a big complication for planning that time is that my kids wake up at varying times, though inevitably early as well. In theory, my husband and I could trade off with them in the AM (and something I definitely recommend for parents of young kids trying to use their mornings) but he’s been traveling.

So how have I been using my mornings?

Monday I went for a run. My mother was here so I didn’t have to coordinate with my husband on what time he was leaving for work. It was great to knock that daily to-do off before breakfast, when the air was still cool, and the streets relatively empty (I am starting to get a bit self-conscious about people looking at the crazy pregnant lady running). I think I will try to do more early AM running in the future. 6AM-7AM would often be a time that would work for my family.

Tuesday I worked from about 5:30-6:45AM. My kids got up about 6:20, but I let them watch one TV show while I finished up a few things. Then we played and packed boxes for the move until 8.

Today, I tried a bit of “strategic thinking time” as I lay in bed, pondering how the book revisions are going. Just a half hour or so, but nice nonetheless. The kids were up around 6, so we had roughly 2 hours of interactive time this AM. Nothing too special, but a lot of playing (and pulling them off the packed boxes). We jumped on the bed, sat on the floor eating raisins, sometimes out of my hand since they decided to pretend to be sheep like at the petting zoo. It was good to get this time in, since my evenings have been spoken for with work and volunteering commitments.

So this week has been going pretty well on that front, though I’d like to get things a bit more scheduled so I can do my runs 2 mornings or so per week. I definitely have more work I could be doing, but I’m going to try to do a shift this weekend. I never thought of myself as a morning person, but sometimes life conspires to turn us into such creatures. I’m slowly learning to make the most of it.

(photo courtesy flickr user bigal_60714)


12 thoughts on “Attempts To Do What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

    1. @Claudia- yep! We’re all very excited about it. A little girl this time, to keep her two older brothers on their toes…

        1. @Claudia- that’s so sweet of you! I’ll probably do a post in the near future about thoughts on raising a girl in what I hope is a changing world. I am pretty excited about all the options she will have. Of course I’ve read literature claiming all these options and expectations are driving today’s 19-year-old young women nuts, but maybe we’ll figure that out in the next two decades…

  1. I actually was one of those person that was attracted by this title. Only yesterday I had some empty time at work and some how (I have no clue) I ended up reading that piece on BNET. That was the first piece I actually read from you.(And I started making more research and discovered this blog which I find amazing by the way)
    Anyway.. It was really intersting so I decided to reorganise my mornings, because in fact I DO have plenty of time. So it started this morning, I did some time management. And I realised that I actually have time in the morning to start working out again!

    congrats on the baby!

    1. @Camille- thanks! and how wonderful that the title brought you over here. I see it did its job. I’m slowly learning what gets people to click on things, but I hope I can match up to the headline hocus-pocus… Congrats on starting up your work out routine again.

  2. I get up very early (4:45) by choice, including weekends to claim time for myself. If I start the day with “me” time, then it’s OK if the rest of the day is occupied. I spend time with God, work out, then read, do crafts etc, depending on the day. I take one morning to do the banking filing and school paperwork, so it gets done without interruption. This keeps my mornings in line with my priorities and keeps the afternoons, evenings open for my kids and husband (also my priorities)
    When I went in to my school for a meeting one of the teachers asked if I will be keeping that up when I return to work in the Fall. I don’t know how I could function otherwise. I will have to shorten the time I devote to each thing, as I will need to be ready an hour earlier than I do now, but I certainly plan on giving myself the time.

    1. @Denise: wow, I am impressed with the 4:45 wake-up! 5:30 is incredibly early for me (in the winter, I can get more to 7:15 or so, and hence don’t have morning time at all). The downside of it is that I’m exhausted by 10PM. That’s a problem since I often plan my days to do a bit more work after 9PM…

      1. I am usually in bed by 9pm. I can’t function after that time, so I might as well go to sleep!
        I have tried to get things done after then, and I make so many errors that it wasn’t worth doing. My kids are also in their rooms, but not asleep, at 7pm, so I have time at night too.

  3. I am OK with all of this as long as we are talking first and foremost about getting 7 to 8 hours sleep. You have to be careful telling working parents to go to bed at 11 and get up before 6 a.m. I am not saying that is what you are doing here… but

    There are only 24 hours in a day and most people do need some transition time. If I wake up at 5:45 to work I can’t really be at my desk at 5:45, I usually need a cup of coffee — I pump breast milk which is an entirely separate issue and choice but — If I wake up at 5:45 to work or work out I must be in bed by 9 p.m.

    You might want to right a piece on early bedtimes and the crying it out movement. I never did crying it out and have a lot of trouble getting my older one to bed — which is fine if you are going to work until 6 or 7 but recently I am pushing to get her to the daycare by 7:30 a.m. and her home playing in the pool with me by 5 p.m or 5:30 then back at work me for an hour or work out or whatever then in bed.
    I do think you have to be careful about the idea that you can do it all — you can’t do it all; all you can do is make choices that reflect your values and attempt to change the things in the system that are broken.. for example the idea that you have to work 60 hours to be c – level when maybe it is 45… or 40 with a good assistant etc. But after you have slept 7 or 8 hours and eaten healthy food and drunk enough water… yes it is true that there are some great early morning hours in there!

    1. I give you a lot of credit for choosing to pump. It is time-consuming and requires great time management skills to work other things around it.
      I agree that you have to make choices. I am working on that now, as I figure out how to fit my job back into my life since I’ve never worked and had kids at the same time. Lots of stuff has to go! and I have to figure out what’s least important, as I am used to trying to ‘do it all.’

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