The most powerful part of my day is the first ninety minutes. It is the foundation for the critical parts of my day and my life. I experience the high-performance state of “Flow” first thing, and then try to recreate that feeling all day.

It starts with ending the previous day by going to bed at 8:30 p.m. Most people immediately say it’s impossible to go to bed that early. Here’s the “Suki Test” (my wife’s mantra every time someone says they can’t do something): “If I gave you $1,000, could you: be in bed tonight by 8.30?”

My guess is you could probably figure it out. At least for tonight, maybe several nights. I’m not saying that early morning is for everyone, all the time. (Just the vast majority, almost always.)

Research on this is clear:

  • Sufficient sleep (at least seven and a half hours) is vital to health and well-being.
  • Willpower is a finite energy that dwindles throughout the day, (like your phone battery) and running out of juice, (whether it’s your willpower or phone) can be ugly.
  • Morning hours will be your most creative and productive.
  • Routine is the easiest way to simplify habits.

Here’s my system for Amazing Mornings:

  • Wake up at 4:30 a.m. Or eight hours after I went to bed. Eight hours is non-negotiable. (No alarm clock, just excited to get into Flow.)
  • Put on my running clothes. Once they are on, I’m going. Regarding “commitment”:
    • 99% is a (Should I go today? Is the weather good? Am I too tired? The list of potential excuses swarm in your head if there is even a 1% chance of getting out of it.)
    • 100% is a no brainer. (You’ve already decided. Done. No annoying questioning or bargaining with yourself.)
  • Positive psychology is rich in research on the power of being grateful and its effect on psychological well-being. Take time to focus on what you have to be grateful for this morning.
  • Usually not far and never very fast. It isn’t just about the exercise, it’s also when I do a lot of new thinking by listening to audio books. The cocktail of running, reading, and thinking is intoxicating. I never have liked running, but I really enjoy the combination.
  • I study scriptures, great writers, poets, and philosophers. (This centers me to a longer term perspective of ancient principles before jumping into the press of today.) I write in my “five-year reflection” journal to track and compare developments in my life.
  • Meditation and planning. This is when I create the day before it actually happens. It never unfolds exactly as planned, but it keeps me in control of tradeoffs I choose to make.

And that’s how I start the day. By 6:00 a.m. I’m ready to pound out my first block of intensive writing, problem solving, and creating.

While there are many things I can’t control in a busy day, creating an Amazing Morning is one I can. It starts my day in a flow state of performance that naturally reinforces my drive for Craftsmanship.

Nothing magical. Just run-of-the-mill amazing. Sign me up. Every morning.


Call to Craftsmanship: How do you optimize your mornings?





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