Psychology suggests that the first three hours of each day are the most precious and productive. It’s during this time that our brains are operating at highest capacity. So it makes sense that we should be intentional about how we manage our time and activities each morning.
“Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused,” psychologist Ron Friedman told Harvard Business Review . “We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well. If we end up squandering those first three hours reacting to other people’s priorities for us . . . that ends up using up our best hours and we’re not quite as effective as we could be.”
So how can we establish a routine each morning that capitalizes on our biology and sets the tone each day for success?
Our minds are most impressionable when we first wake up.
In the first hour upon waking, your brain is at its most impressionable state. The subconscious is still active as our minds slip from dreamy unconsciousness into wakeful awareness.
This is often when the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world around us surface.
For years I wrestled with self-doubt, fear and a nagging feeling of worthlessness. It was a long time before I realized that much of my self-worth was being affected by the negative and hateful words spoken to me while growing up. My father was verbally abusive, and his words would ring through my subconscious mind every day. I got so used to hearing those words inside my head that I accepted them as my own and they became a warped kind of truth.
It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I finally understood that what I believed about myself was rooted in these words from the past.
Have you ever stopped and listened to the voice inside your head? Have you ever examined what you feel, think and believe about yourself? Where does that stuff come from?
If you let these thoughts go unexamined, they will continue to feed the stress and anxiety that rob you of your health and peace. They will become toxic agents that affect every relationship, every opportunity and every part of your day.
Socrates said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Focus on the high value activities that will set each day up for success. It starts in the first hour of each morning. Examining your thoughts and feeding your mind with truth is an important step to empowering yourself to lead a healthy and productive life. This isn’t some kind of transcendental mind over matter nonsense. The way we think (our belief system) energizes the way we act.
How you start the morning will reverberate throughout the rest of the day. Positivity breeds positivity.
It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a business leader, an athlete, a store clerk or happily retired. Being intentional about how you spend the first hour each morning is a habit that will produce great reward and ensure that you are mentally prepared to face whatever the day might bring.
Here’s some practical ways to make the most out of the first hour of each day.
- Practice Gratitude – while still lying in bed, take the time to think about one thing that you are most grateful for in your life. Practicing being grateful each morning will help condition the way you respond to the needs of others and help you to be mindful of opportunities that come your way.
- Meditate – Turning to scripture or a favorite inspirational reading is a great way to feed the mind with positive affirmation. Here is an opportunity to counter the negative words and beliefs forced upon us over the years by a hostile world with truth. Clear your mind and examine what comes to the surface. Speak life. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is my favorite meditation. Focus on the day ahead of you. Do you have a big paper to finish? A presentation to deliver? Speak into that. I can do this, I have everything I need inside of me to succeed, I am not alone.
- Journal – Writing down your positive statements is a great way of reinforcement. Journaling doesn’t have to be complicated. For some great ideas on how to journal check out the Bullet Journal blog.
- Study – Remember, our minds are the most impressionable in the first hour of each day. Read up on a subject that inspires you. Watch a motivational video. Study what innovative and creative leaders in your industry are doing. Never stop learning. Feed your brain and feed your soul.
- Get outdoors – Exercise. Enjoy the sunrise. Breathe in the fresh air. Be present.
Don’t let distraction sabotage your focus.
- Stay away from social media – Scrolling through Facebook or Twitter will often expose you to negativity. As a matter of fact, social media usage has now been linked to depression You don’t need that first thing in the morning. Save that garbage for later, or better yet don’t do it at all.
- Don’t check your email – Waiting on your phone or laptop are a million problems waiting to be solved. I get it. You can’t ignore them. But they can wait until you’ve set some time for yourself. Remember, your most productive hours are the first three of the day. . Make the most of each morning before diving into task driven activities like email.
- Don’t oversleep – One habit that many of the most influential and successful people share is they all get up early. Don’t squander the most productive hours of each day. Rise up, face the world, feed your brain and live strong.