How to Turbo-Charge Your Career Before Breakfast

How to Turbo-Charge Your Career Before Breakfast

You spend your days jumping from one task to the next. Answer this call. Answer this email. Do this. Do that.

You keep telling yourself that you’ll find time to think about your long-term goals when everything quiets down. But somehow, this strategic thinking time never seems to happen.

And you know what? It never will.

Effective people don’t wait to strategize. They do it first.; I literally mean first — first thing in the morning, before most people are eating breakfast.

Early mornings are a great time for taking care of those important but not urgent tasks that life tends to crowd out – tasks like nurturing your business and asking what you want it to become. There are a few reasons for this:

First? Logistics. Unless you’re working with a team in Europe, no one’s calling you at 6 a.m. Emails aren’t piling up, and no one will interrupt you. If you’ve got kids, they’re (hopefully!) still asleep.

Mornings are a time you can invest in yourself and your career without the hassle of working around conference calls and other people’s priorities.

Second? There’s good evidence that we focus better in the mornings. New research into the science of willpower is finding that our sense of self-discipline is strongest in the morning after a good night’s sleep.

That means that in the morning, willpower is there in abundance, ready to be used wisely. It gets depleted through the day as we make decisions and deal with difficult people.

Use your morning time to pursue what should be a top professional priority, and here are some questions to ask yourself to begin building some strategic thinking time:

  • If you gave yourself a performance review, what would it say?
  • What would you hope your performance review would say one year from now? Five years from now?
  • Who would you like to work with on a project someday?
  • If someone offered to pay you for 6 months to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?
  • What is your dream project? Who is your dream client?
  • How could you boost your income by $2000 next month? How could you boost it by 25% next year?

These are all good questions you should ask. No one knows where the answers will lead you, but if you figure out those answers, you’ll probably wind up in more interesting places than if you didn’t ask these questions at all.

Thinking about your career should happen regularly, even if it doesn’t happen regularly now. And effective people know that if something has to happen, it has to happen first.

So why not set an alarm or stop hitting snooze?

Post by Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam is the author of the new ebook, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. She blogs daily at LauraVanderkam.com.

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  1. Totally agree with this! I wrote my book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better, ENTIRELY before breakfast. I got up at 6 am every day and wrote for an hour before I did anything else (even before having a shower!) It’s the only reason I finished my book!!

  2. I think this is great advice. By doing things early in the morning we immediately knock off that early morning procrastination (for which I am queen for doing by the way).

    I am more of a night person, however. I find I write the most when everything is done at the end of the day. The house is quiet and I have it completely to myself.

    Thanks for the post, Luara and James.

  3. Marc Halliburton says:

    I have been an early riser for years, sometimes at 3:30 or 4:00am. read for the hour, hit the gym at 5:00 to 6:30, my ideas are flowing and the possiblities seem endless.

    The energy is awesome and by the time 8:30 rolls around people think I have have had three cups of exppresso. The work I get completed before 10:00 is wonderful and it truly sets me up for the rest of my day.

    It is not for everyone but I am here to tell you the productivity is just off the hook. Start small, try it for 30 days, you will be amazed.

  4. In my industry it’s not uncommon to be doing business at 7AM, so I have no choice but to start my days early. Regardless, that time from 6-7 in the morning is the most productive of the day!

  5. That’s a very good advice, however, to be completely honest with you I’m in two minds about it. I doubt that it’s totally universal. I do believe that there’re some people whose productivity sky-rockets at night. Although I’m not such a person I think I know some of the kind. Additionally, I read somewhere that scientists proved we tend to forget all the things we try to learn during the hour right proceeding our wake up.

  6. The most productive people I know are morning folks who get up before the sun and make the most of the peace and quiet. I’m keep telling myself I’m going to become one of them — right before I go to bed every night I make myself a believer — and then around the sixth time I hit the snooze button in the morning I realize it’s just not for me. I have more energy and focus in the evenings, but I still envy the early birds and hope that at some point I might be able to transition. Great tips and great advice on what to pontificate about whether it’s morning, noon or night!

  7. I’ve realized I can only write abundantly early morning IF:

    1) I’ve slept very well the night before,
    2) I’ve got peace of mind,
    3) I’ve got no hurry to go anywhere and do anything that day, and
    4) I’ve decided not think about business or strategize.

    Will it easily happen everyday in my life? Of course not, but when I have such days, I start writing a series of articles as I’ve opened the door and the blocked water outside flows in abruptly.

    Nothing is like morning accomplishment.

  8. Wow Laura, in retrospect, everything you’ve said should really be clear and obvious to me. I have spent my mornings usually immersed in “Me Time”. That is, I watch Breaking Bad on netflix and read a novel for an hour or two and then getting the day rolling with the important stuff.

    I figured it would allow me to enjoy myself enough before switching into zombie work mode. But now I realize I probably enjoy my TV watching and book reading so much BECAUSE I do it first thing in the morning. I’ll try to reverse the cycle and see how much more productive I get ;)

  9. Mitesh Jain says:

    Hey Laura,

    I very much agree with your point that waking up early helps a person to make most of the peaceful timr and helps one in strategizing is day in a better way.

    But the problem which most of the people ( imcluding me) face is laziness. It is like extremely difficult to wake up early. There are lot of reasons to it. But may be all of them are just excuses.

    Can you help me ot give me skme tips which can help me and any one who wants to get up early???

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