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5 Steps to Success Before Breakfast

Posted by Ryan Sanders

baconBefore children, I was a morning person. I used to conquer mornings. Back in college, I woke up with unrushed reading time. Remember unrushed reading time?! Once kids happen, unrushed mornings end.

Are you like me? I don’t plan any me-time at home before leaving work in hopes of getting a 45-second-jump on my neighbor. If I can cut my neighbor off at the toll road, I’m sure to get past the Capital Beltway before the traffic congestion really starts.

But my life is about to change. I found Laura Vanderkam’s article in Fast Company. I am now motivated more than ever to be a morning person because it seems mornings are when successful people get things done.

Actually, mornings for parents may be the only time to get anything done. Be careful about reading this article by Vanderkam. After you read, you can’t complain you don’t have enough “me time.” The short answer is -- wake up earlier! If you’re game for waking up earlier, keep reading this post for motivation and how to amp up your morning routine.

Parents, follow these steps from Vanderkam and you’ll get more done in the morning, before the kids wake up:

Step 1. Track Your Morning
Laura points out that you’re more likely to spend your time better when you know how you’re spending it. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can. Use Laura’s spreadsheet (yes, she has a time management spreadsheet!) or write things down.

Try this for a week. See how you're spending your time. So, you’re too tired and can’t wake up earlier, but you're only tired because you stayed up that extra few minutes watching The Colbert Report. Laura’s genius idea? DVR The Colbert Report and watch it at 5:30am while running on the treadmill. Whoa, I never thought about that. Mind, blown. Next step…

Step 2. Picture Your Perfect Morning
Once you see how you’re spending your mornings, take time to dream about your perfect morning. Would it start with a run? Actually eating real food for breakfast? Think about exactly how you would like to spend your morning and then move to step 3.

Step 3. Map Out Your Dream Morning
Actually write down what you want your new morning to look like and how you’re going to make it happen. Heck, write down the exact time while you’re at it. What time are you going to wake up? Yes, Laura goes here: write down the time you should go to bed. You know how much sleep you need. Ouch, okay, you’re almost to the morning of your dreams. Continue to step 4.

Step 4. Make the Dream Happen
If you want your dream morning, you’ll need discipline. Laura has some great ideas on how to make this happen:

  • Take baby steps: Start with getting in bed just a few minutes earlier. And don’t try to create EVERYTHING in your dream morning at one time. Work on one thing at a time. Actually waking up earlier is probably the best place to start.
  • Reward yourself. You have your goals and you’ve created baby steps. Be sure to celebrate small victories. This will keep you motivated. 

Step 5. Remember, Your Dream Morning is a Process
Okay, so you have kids. Life will happen in your house. Remember this whole deal is a process. Processes CAN change and be revamped. The best part about this is the idea that you can feel like your mornings are yours, not just death marches to your job! I know no one reading this has ever felt like his or her mornings are death marches. But you know what I’m saying.

You may never know how much you can get done or your full potential until you have time to stop and think for yourself. Remember to come back and tell us how things are going, what you’re working on, and what’s not working. Just remember, if you hate or love this idea and want to read more, the idea was Laura’s.

Dads, whether you want to conquer your mornings or not, try our series of 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad for great ideas on becoming a better dad.

Now, what are you going to do with your perfect morning?

photo credit: Wade Brooks


Topics: fatherhood, parenting, kids, parents, dads, work-life balance, schedule

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