I usually get up between 6am and 7am every morning, also on the weekends. Sometimes even at 5am, especially if I wake up and know I have maybe one more hour to sleep, I usually prefer to get up instead.
There is something very calming and quiet in the morning that no other time of the day can give you.
After 7am or 8am everyone in the house (or outside the house) wakes up and prepares to go to school or work. There is stuff going on when the world wakes up. When you reach the office at 8am or 9am in the morning there is already some work lined up for you and another day begins.
By noon you’re a bit hungry and want to go to eat. After a quick lunch break you get back to your desk and the work continues. Maybe some facebook or whatsapp checking here and there but generally the work continues until 5pm or 6pm.
When you get home you have to prepare dinner or can eat dinner (lucky you!) and you zone out a bit watching TV or reading a book. By 9pm or 10pm you start to get tired and prepare for bed, to sleep your well-earned 7-8hours.
Take back your Me-time
What I really like about mornings is that it’s entirely up to me on what I can do. If I want to work on a passion project of mine (e.g. making music) I can do it. If I want to read uninterrupted for 1 hour, I can do it. Heck, if I want to move a bit and get out, I can do it!
We as a society generally are very social, we like to be around people and have a good time. Even at work, nobody likes to work alone in a room, by themselves.
Although being social is a good thing and genetically even programmed in our nature (we used to live in tribes of up to 50 people, when we were nomads), we forget about “me-time”.
Me-time is the quiet time you can use to do whatever it is you want to do, but by yourself. Sometimes it even helps to collect your thoughts and think about your life. Because be honest, when was the last time you thought about your life and the direction you’re going? And I’m not talking about your dinner options either, but big, life-changing decisions like changing careers, marrying someone, going on a world travel tour.
Why in the morning?
Scientifically I don’t know what it is exactly, but I do know one thing for sure: The mind is creative in a very interesting way, early in the morning or rather first thing in the morning.
My hypothesis is that the mind is still in wake up mode and not really busy with all the things that go around.
It’s sort of like an empty computer RAM. You can fill it up to load programs (throughout the day, when you make decisions and work) but at a certain period it just stops and has to free up some RAM before the possibility to think about something else arises. This time in between costs you creativity.
That’s also the reason why the greatest ideas come to you in the shower, in the toilet or while having a walk (or actually in the morning). Your mind is not really busy with a thousand things and can maintain all the other stuff in the background, so it can free up some creativity space for you.
This exact situation tends to happen in the morning, quite simply because there are no thoughts to think about yet!
If you use that time wisely you might make progress in whatever it is you want to do. If you don’t, or even if you just sleep through, don’t complain to other people that you never have time to do x or always feel so rushed in the morning. It’s entirely in your hand.
But why the morning exactly? Simple: Let’s look at the other options.
The lunch break
Oftentimes way too short to do something meaningful and also in my opinion this should be set aside to workout.
Most of the time you’re very tired in the evening and think about other stuff, e.g. your dinner or Game of Thrones.
The only viable other option to the morning. This is the time when the world and everyone around you goes to sleep, it’s quiet again. It’s a preference thing really. If you’re a night person then give this a try, start working after 9pm, but if you’re not, don’t force yourself.
I read that the famous strength coach Charles Poliquin said, that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is better than every hour you get after. At first I thought there wasn’t any logic behind it, but the last few nights like this that I remember, I always slept worse when I went to sleep after midnight versus just going to sleep at 10pm. That is also why my suggestion tends to be the morning.
What to do exactly?
Since we forgot about me-time, we also don’t know what to do when we’re alone and have time at our hands. Our natural tendency these days is to grab the smartphone or watch youtube. While I think this is ok throughout the day, it’s not the place for me-time.
A famous productivity teacher once said: Never check email first thing in the morning (I used to do this soooo often!). But why? The explanation is so simple that we forget about it. As soon as you check your email, you’re on somebody else’s schedule. You have to either reply, delete or occupy your mind with this unnecessary stuff. Email can always wait until you arrive in the office.
So what else is there to do in the beautiful quiet of the morning?
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Do 10min. of meditation every morning
- Read for 1 hour (can be fiction or non-fiction, whatever you prefer)
- Go for a walk and enjoy the sunrise
- Work on your passion project
- Prepare a bombastic breakfast to start the day off right, with proper tea or coffee and everything else you fancy!
- Workout, this will wake you up for sure.
- Start journaling
As you can see there are a few cool things you could do in the morning, as long as you wake up early in enough.
Generally my suggestion is 6am, but depending on your time zone earlier or later may be appropriate. Always aim for at least one hour of work before the entire morning starts.
We forgot about me-time because we tend to be very social throughout the day. And this is a good thing. When it comes to important decisions and creativity though, the me-time in the morning can give you a huge step ahead in whatever it is you’re pursuing. It’s important that you reclaim your me-time and spend it wisely. A lot of the greatest artists and thinkers of the last few centuries were morning people and had their me-time in the morning, because they knew exactly once the hustle and bustle of the day starts the creativity units that you have for the day diminish rather quickly. And we don’t want to make important decisions with filled up RAM now, do we?