The copy I received included two other very short books by the same author: What the Most Successful People on the Weekends, and What the Most Successful People Do at Work. Either way, if you’re looking for an in-depth analysis, this isn’t it.
About two weeks ago I stumbled upon Laura Vanderkam’s book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
The timing was perfect. I was just wrapping up what I had considered to be a pretty unaccomplished and unsatisfying summer. My oldest was starting high school in a few days, and I going to be back to homeschooling my two younger children. (Yes, the school year begins ridiculously early where we live.)
Not only did I want to get a good routine going, but with my oldest “graduating” from homeschool, I was realizing how fleeing the years were, and I wanted to make sure I was using my remaining time wisely.
So … What do the most successful people do before breakfast?
They get up early (the earlier, the better) and immediately do one or more things that require some willpower — things that should get done, but are usually the first thing to slide.
Almost all the examples included some form of exercise, whether it’s jogging at 6:00am or attending a Jazzercise class at 5:30am. Other activities mentioned were things like meditating, working on some long-term project, or getting up early and having a relaxed breakfast with family members.
It’s been almost two weeks since I read the book, and during that time I have woken up between 6:30 and 7:00 every morning, immediately done a 30 minute workout, showered and got dressed, then worked on the novel I’m writing for about 30 minutes while having breakfast.
No, it’s not as impressive as what most of the people in this book are doing. but for me it’s been great.
I love the idea of waking up and immediately doing important things before I have time to think about it or even be fully awake. I also love the idea of being on auto-pilot first thing in the morning instead of trying to sort through all the many things I could be doing.
When I begin my “Work Day” of homeschooling at about 8:45am, it feels great to know that I already worked out and wrote, and I don’t have either one hanging over my head or wonder when and how I’m going to fit it in during the day (or worse, feel awful because it’s been weeks since I’ve done either one).
One thing I found interesting that the book doesn’t address is having to pay the price later in the day. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but if I was getting up early enough to be at a Jazzercise class at 5:30am day after day, I would feel like hell sometime around mid-afternoon, and by around the third or fourth day, I simply wouldn’t be able to keep that up anymore and still function. Are these people going to bed at 8:30 every night? Are they keeling over on their desk every day at 3:00pm?
The book didn’t really address this issue other than passing comments like “make sure you get enough sleep” and “I found I wasn’t doing anything really productive after 10:00pm anyway, [so I went to bed then].”
However, I have solved this problem for myself in one word:
Yes, every day for the past eleven days I have taken a nap. And by “nap,” I don’t mean lying on the couch for a few minutes, or checking Facebook while zoning out with my feet up.
I mean crawl under the covers and stay there for at thirty minutes. And often falling asleep, if even for just a few minutes.
I know most people don’t have that option, but I do, so I take it!
Oh, one other thing I’ve noticed: In the eleven days that I’ve been doing this routine, I sleep great at night. I doze off right away, have good dreams, and don’t have too much trouble getting up most mornings. The fact that I know exactly what I’m going to do as soon as I stand up goes a long way in helping me get going.
If this is getting you motivated to start getting up earlier but you don’t know how, here’s a video with an interesting technique (that I have not tried myself):