Are you happy with how you spend your mornings?
I’ve realized I waste A LOT of my morning. First I check my iPhone, browse emails, play a game or two, and peruse the Internet. None of these things are productive, but I use them to “wake” myself up. Problem is, I look up 30 minutes later and then I have to rush around to get ready for work.
On the good mornings, I manage to make it to the gym, have a deep quiet time in the Bible, and can even sometimes do some writing.
I started thinking, what causes that first type of morning? With that first type of morning, I’ve noticed that laziness spills over into work. I get to work, leisurely check emails (again), and browse the Web (because I’m “researching”). By the time I’ve gotten to lunch time, I may have accomplished something, but it’s not usually what’s on my to-do list. This makes the afternoons something I didn’t intend for them to be. I’m rushing around, and even stay late because I’m just so busy.
I realized this morning routine is throwing off my whole day. I didn’t realize this until reading Jon Acuff’s “Quitter” where he discusses that the mornings are his time to get major “dreams” done. Why are mornings so powerful?
This could be different for others, but from my experience and those I’ve talked to, mornings seem to be less busy. Everyone seems to be a little quieter, less willing to interrupt. We were built this way. So many Bible verses reference getting up early in the morning to reflect, so it cannot be a coincidence.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
Research clearly shows our willpower is limited. As the day goes on, we’ve drained our willpower reserve. The longer we wait to do something, the harder it gets. I know this is the case for an evening workout, food choices, even with my patience towards Samantha. Unfortunately after a bad day, Samantha bears the brunt of my bad mood. I’m not good at making good mood choices without my willpower reserve.
So what should I use my mornings for?
Now that we’ve identified the issue, how can we use our mornings for good? For me, it means the following:
This can mean different things for different people. For me, this means going to the gym and doing my Bible study.
When I was single, I’d go to the gym in the evenings a lot. This was easy, because I had no commitments. Since I’ve been married, I think I can count the times on one hand that I’ve actually made it to the gym after work. In the evenings, I’m more likely to do activities I can do with my wife, like biking or running. These aren’t bad, but the reality is you won’t do this often and will do it even less with kids. Yes, it’s definitely better than nothing, but you waste a lot of your day.
Research has shown that you get 8-12 hours of “good mood” after a workout. If you do this in the evening, that mood is wasted on sleep. By working out in the morning, you’re increasing your chances of having a positive attitude throughout the day.
Chase the dream
This could mean a lot of things, but in Quitter, Jon Acuff said he did his writing before work. This helped him block out the time and use his creative energy and get his ideas off his mind. He was right, if you wait till the evening, not only is willpower gone, but your creativity could be as well. Research has shown our most creative times are in the morning, so take hold of that and use it on what you love.
Another concept Acuff introduced is doing what you “love” instead of “like.” I like watching TV, but do I really love it? Most likely not. It’s an easy thing to do, but are you going to fill more fulfilled doing the thing you like or love? Definitely love. Too many times we go with the easy like over the hard love. Reality is, the hard love makes us happier. Always choose the hard love.
Be More Organized
For me I see how the lack of organization makes me start slow when I get to the office. This is what kicks my procrastination into gear. If I show up in the morning with a clear plan, the day is so much easier. Every night, we should spend time taking inventory of our current day and reviewing what has to be done the next. Then, first thing in the morning, go over the day again. Prioritize. This prioritization helps us get started quicker, and helps us get what has to be done, done. Too many times I’ve stayed late at the office just because I didn’t do this. Lack of planning leads to lack of time for the things you love. Don’t fall into this trap!
These aren’t hard and fast answers for everyone, but hopefully this will at least make you think. How are you using your time incorrectly, and how can you jump start your day? A good morning means the day is more likely to be productive. And remember: anytime you make a compromise for a season, you’re one step away from making a habit for the future.