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Make Over Your Mornings, Make Over Your Life

I've written a bit recently here at BNET about how people use their mornings (see What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Can You Become a Morning Person?) Inspired by the response I got from readers, I've been trying to implement my own morning rituals.
Why? Because mornings are great for getting things done -- particularly the important-but-not-urgent things that we otherwise let slide. Humans have a limited supply of self discipline. If you spend all day battling stressful situations or doing things you don't want to do, it's hard to come home and push yourself to exercise, or practice a musical instrument, or really play with your kids. It's much easier to do things that require no effort. Like eating potato chips out of the bag and watching TV.

The great thing about pushing important-but-not-urgent tasks to the AM hours is that it's like the financial advice to pay yourself first. There will always be a good reason not to save $500 at the end of the month, and so you won't. Likewise, there will always be a good reason not to go for a run in the evening. If it matters to you, better to do it before the day and your energy escapes into the waning hours.

So, this summer, I've identified a few personal priorities that I want to devote serious time to. One is running, particularly taking advantage of the nature trails near me. Another is having family meals. I'm blogging almost daily at my personal blog about whatever strikes my fancy, because I know that improving as a writer depends on writing a lot. I'm also writing 1000 words of fiction a day in an attempt to tackle novel writing as a long term, speculative project.

I've found that I can usually get all these priorities done by 10AM, and sometimes by 9:30. A good morning for me means getting up at 6:20, and getting out the door by 6:30 for a run. I'm back by 7:15, around the time my husband and two young sons have wandered down to the kitchen. We eat breakfast together and then I hang out with the kids after my husband takes off for work. I start work at 8 when the sitter shows up. I post on my blog first, then cough up my 1000 words. Starting my "real" work at 9:30 or 10 still leaves plenty of time for a normal work day, but I've already knocked off many of the things that matter most to me. If the day turns out to be a wash, so be it.

Obviously, this doesn't happen every day. If my husband is traveling, there's no 6:30AM run. If I'm somewhere else, there's no leisurely breakfast with the kids. A call that has to happen at 9AM means I'll be writing my 1000 words later in the day. But scheduling these good mornings 3 times per workweek is still better than none. And, as the months have gone by, I'm starting to see the payoffs: the ability to run up a switchback hill that initially bedeviled me, my kids learning to sit and eat their cereal and talk without running away. Slow progress, over time, adds up.

What are your morning rituals?


Photo courtesy flickr user, rightee
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