I’ve always held an admiration for morning people. You know, the folks who get out of bed before the sun is even up, squeeze in a workout, make a healthy breakfast and sit down to start the day fresh and fulfilled by their morning routines.
Until I read that top CEOs spend their mornings doing things they enjoy – and don’t start making any work decisions until after 10 am. Instead, they fill their mornings with hobbies, light exercise and family time.
Waking up early to do things that I enjoy – like taking time to read a book, catch up with a friend or family member, and then settling into my workday sounded much more appealing. And if it works for top-performing CEOs, they must be doing something right.
Here’s how my day of not making any decisions until after 10 am went.
It’s still dark out, which gives me zero motivation to do anything that requires leaving my bed. I decide to read until the sun comes up, and take out a beach read that I never finished over the summer.
At first, it’s hard to focus – and I’m tempted to try and steal some more sleep instead. But I push forward and start to get into the plot.
The sky is starting to get light out, so I decide to take a stroll around my neighborhood.
I stop at a fruit stand that opens early to pick up some produce, then head to my favorite bagel spot, where I have my pick of whatever fresh bagel I want.
I decide to give my mom a call to see if she’s up. She’s surprised to hear from me this early and, in true mom fashion, is concerned that something’s wrong.
I assure her that everything is okay, that I’m just calling because I’m trying something out for an article. We catch up for around 20 minutes, then she needs to get her day started, so I head back to my apartment.
I consider starting work at this point. I decide to do an hour-long workout in my apartment to keep me focused on not making any work decisions until after 10.
My email is pinging throughout this hour. Halfway through, I set my computer and phone to silent, making the workout more enjoyable.
I shower and get ready for the day. I peek at my phone. I already have 20 unread emails. I call a friend who has off this week before starting a new job.
She and I catch up for a bit; then I let her go and decide it’s time for more coffee. To maximize my last moments of not making any work decisions, I take my coffee with me on a walk outside.
Once the initial panic I get from seeing a ton of unread emails and messages wears off, I respond to everyone who’s waiting to hear from me. It becomes evident that not making any work decisions until after 10 am must be much easier for CEOs who can set those boundaries.
I get through my inbox, then take a look at what tasks require my attention most when it comes to decision making, and work through those.
Surprisingly, I found it easier to call on the tasks that needed it than I usually do when I start my morning off without any leisure time. The rest of my day felt more productive, and my overall mood had been boosted by doing things I enjoy in the morning – rather than hoping I’d have time at the end of my day for them.
While I don’t have the luxury to put off work decisions until 10 am every day, I do think I’ll still bake time into my morning routine to make a phone call to a friend or family member.
Connecting with someone I care about first thing in the morning was a welcome change from having my first interactions be from someone who needs something from me at work.