How You Spend Your Morning Matters
“The first hour is the rudder of the day.” — Henry Ward Beecher
Over the course of my life, I have found that this quote by Henry Ward Beecher (which I first heard about 15 years ago) is entirely true.
I will say, however, that I believe the morning routine we set up for ourselves is even more important than just the first hour. Whenever I feel like I am at my most productive self, it is because I have chosen to take hold of the first hours of the day, rather than letting them take control of me—or even worse, slip away underutilized.
How we spend our morning matters. And not just for the rest of that day, but for the life we desire to live.
And I believe this to be true for everyone, regardless of their season in life, current role, or future ambitions.
Whether you desire to be an intentional parent, an ambitious CEO, a diligent student, or a creative artist, recognizing the opportunity of your mornings can significantly help you get there.
The decisions we make in the morning set the sails for the direction of the day.
For me personally, for the last two years, my morning routine has not changed. I start around 6 AM. First thing I do every weekday is go to the gym—prioritizing my health, self-care, and kickstarting my body for the day. Then I eat a healthy breakfast, followed by a personal time of devotion, mediation, and quiet solitude.
For me, I have found that those three actions set my body, my mind, and my heart in the right place for the day ahead.
My “workday” typically starts at 9am. And my first project is almost always the most important task that I need to accomplish that day. Today, for example, I am writing this article. (It’s 10:20am right now as I write this sentence).
None of the times listed here are important. I like to get up at 6am and worked hard to become someone who can get up early because it was something that I always wanted to be true of me. But don’t mistake the point of this article. I am not saying everyone needs to wake up early. Each person’s body-clock is set a bit differently.
What I am saying here is that if you want to be the best version of yourself, bringing about the greatest good for the greatest number of people, it starts by being intentional in the morning.
Intentionality, at the very beginning of every day, sets the tone for your day and life. Because when you command your morning, you can conquer your day.
Your morning routine will look different than mine.
Craft one that serves you and your goals.
Regardless of how you structure yours, here are a few suggestions to help you seize your mornings:
1. Try to wake up at the same time every day (at least every weekday).
Consistency is key in establishing a routine. It’s just really difficult to establish a morning routine if you’re waking up at a different time every day.
Plus, choosing when to wake up is the first action of control that you can take over your day.
Waking up at the same time will also help your body establish a stable rhythm and enhance your overall sleep quality.
2. Prioritize physical health.
You’ll find a routine that works for you. But I strongly suggest making sure you prioritize physical health at some point during it.
Whether it’s physical exercise or just making sure to eat a healthy, energy-giving breakfast, taking care of your body in the morning is essential. Your physical body is the instrument through which you make a difference in the world.
3. Plan your day the night before.
Knowing what’s on your agenda when you wake up can eliminate early morning decision fatigue, allowing you to get to work more efficiently. It’ll also help you get out of bed in the morning knowing what you are intending to accomplish that day.
I always recommend a 3-Item To Do List.
4. Find time for reflection or meditation.
A moment of calm before the storm of the day can do wonders for your mental well-being. And it can help you approach the day with a more positive and focused mindset.
For me, this is a spiritual exercise that consists of religious reading, meditation, and prayer. But of course, finding time for reflection and meditation is important for everyone—regardless of their faith or nonfaith background.
5. Dress for the day.
Even if you’re working from home, getting dressed can signal your brain that it’s time to get serious.
It’s a psychological trick that can help increase productivity. There’s also research done on the topic that shows getting ready can boost happiness and mood.
6. Tackle the most important task first.
“Eat the frog” is a saying that many people use concerning time management. As it is often referred to as “accomplish your toughest task first thing in the day.”
But that is not actually the meaning of the phrase. Brian Tracy, who wrote the book, explains it as “accomplishing your most important task.”
In the morning, I seek to accomplish the most important thing that I need to do that day. Sometimes it’s the most challenging task, but not always.
Working on it first helps me prioritize (and even schedule) my most important work.
A successful day doesn’t necessarily mean crossing off the most number of things from your to-do list. A successful day is crossing the right things off your to-do list.
The significance of how you spend your morning cannot be overstated.
It’s about more than just routine; it’s about purposefully shaping your day and life.
Regardless of the role you play in the world, how you use your morning affects your effectiveness in your chosen pursuit.
Your morning matters, so take charge of it.
The ship of your life needs a captain doing the steering.