Book Reviews

Maximize My Mornings – What Successful People Do First

The power to maximize my mornings is a top priority for me. Learning how successful people organize their AMs inspires me to create my own winning routine.

 “Wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen.”

maximize my mornings
People who are successful typically embrace the day and keep a routine to maximize their mornings.

Maximize my mornings – Wake up to success

I just read “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast”. After crashing out on my diet I needed inspiration. I found it in the habits and routines of people who have made getting things done a way of life.

The book by Laura Vanderkam is a straightforward description of some of the world’s top performers. It describes how establishing an early morning routine been instrumental in their health, wealth, mental stability, and family relationships. It covers the range from CEOs and entrepreneurs to artists and actors.

The steps are relatively simple and accessible. And the disciplines that set the morning routines can serve me in other areas of my life, too. From exercise to meditation to spending valuable time with my family. It starts my day with intention and purpose will maximize my mornings and produce big benefits.

maximize my mornings
“Seize the day” by doing the things that matter the most.

Maximize mornings by doing first things first

One way to maximize my mornings is to knock out the chores and routines that I typically put off the rest of the day (think exercise!). There is a psychological benefit to marking a non-favorite – but important – task from my to-do list. It helps set intentions for the day that allows for progress.

The atmosphere of early morning can lend itself to working on long term goals like writing a book, studying, or other productive efforts.

The main thing is to use the time to work on non-urgent but important things. It is not time for mundane daily tasks. It is time to grab the big tasks by the horns and get them out of the way.

maximize my mornings
Take time in the morning to enjoy the family and tend to self-care.

Habitual self-care and family time

The early morning can also be a time for some introspections and a routine of self-care. I should carve out a part of my day that is dedicated to me, before the pressures of scheduled events, obligations, or meeting.

This can be a practice of mindful meditation or a healthy routine like tai chi. It can be a time to devote to growing my skills as an artist or to read affirming books and articles.

Or, it might be a good time to spend with the family as well. Many people have schedules that don’t have enough room for meaningful one-on-one time with their kids or spouses. The working schedule demands that family be put on the back burner. An early morning routine dedicated to reading, homework, conversation, or a shared meal can change a family dynamic. I get more quality time with my family and build better relationships.

maximize my mornings
Tracking your time and imagining your ideal morning.

Maximize mornings with tools and templates

Something I have always needed to do in all areas of my life has been to pay more attention to how I spend my time.

I have as many hours in my day as any successful person. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Branson, and Dwayne Johnson all have the same 168 hours in a week that I do. They always have. The (vast) difference isn’t their talents or brains or luck. Instead, it has been what they do with their 168 hours that I don’t.

I need to get better at tracking my time. I also need to know when I am using my time and when I am wasting it. Then I need to really examine what percentage of my time is wasted, and how can I maximize the usage of all my time.

I can use a notebook or a worksheet to make notes on what I am doing through the day. Maybe just taking note of the last productive thing I did in the evening and what time I went to bed will be an eye-opener.

To help me with organizing and planning my time, setting up new habits, and prodding me to stay on course, there are a number of phone apps I can use. I will use these in conjunction with good ol’ pen and paper to create templates which allows me to review my efforts and spend my time more effectively.

Another technique offered in the book is to picture my ideal morning and write it down. Then calculate the time involved and start cutting what would be nice from the list and keeping what is really beneficial. When I am done, I will have an early morning routine that makes me feel purposeful and intentional, as well as guides me in balancing the rest of my day.

Keep weekends special by having a "bucket list" of family fun to pick from.
Keep weekends special by having a “bucket list” of family fun to pick from.

Make weekend plans special

An important factor in spending time with my family is making sure I’ve successfully used my week. I feel stressed and guilty when, because of my own time mismanagement, I feel pressed to do work on the weekends.

There will always be some work on the weekends. But I really want to practice spending quality time with my wife and daughter. “What Successful People” suggests is that I make that an intentional routine also.

I should plan the weekends ahead of time and stick to the scheduling. Leaving plans until the last minute often means not doing much in terms of getting out and having fun. Soon the weekend is gone and the restorative qualities of a couple of days off are wasted as I head into another week still fatigued and disorganized.

In this town, there is no shortage of family-fun things to do. So with a little planning, I can organize and execute numerous relaxing activities that get my mind and body out of work mode:

  • Plan a picnic day at the park
  • Playdate with friends
  • Go to the movies
  • Take a family craft or cooking class
  • Dinner and trip to the bookstore

I can have an “event jar” with things to do like those above and then draw them out midweek. It could be a family ritual, and we all agree to enjoy that activity. Planning can take the forms of more ambitious, weekend-long getaways, too.

The main thing is to create a ritual that separates days off from days on and rewards my hard work during the week. If I never feel like I’m getting a day off, I won’t have as much motivation to tackle those big goals.

How “What Successful People” is helping me lose weight and get fit

“What Successful People” is helping me to maximize my mornings and create a routine, for one thing. By taking advantage of the quiet and solitude of the mornings I can commit to achieving my most important goals first thing. One of those important goals is exercise.

It is also teaching me to be mindful of how I am using my 168 hours. I’m working to establish a morning routine that is productive and motivating. I’m tracking my time and seeing what wasteful behavior I can eliminate. I am also looking at what hard work is just labor, not necessarily moving me on towards my goals.

The biggest takeaway is that I should add self-care and quality family time to my schedule. I thought if I just worked hard enough and got all my jobs done, then whatever time was leftover would be my time for self-care and family. Now I see it has to be as much a part of the planning process as any important goal.


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