Do You Start Your Day Intentionally?

In July I saw a Kindle 99p deal book called Power Hour: How to Focus on Your Goals and Create a Life You Love by Adrienne Herbert. I was intrigued. And when that happens I download the sample, read some or all of it, and decide whether the style of writing appeals to me. (Just because it’s only 99p doesn’t mean I have to buy it, or so I have to tell myself regularly!)

I was hooked within a page or two, downloaded the full book, and had read it a few days later. There was lots of useful advice, but the thing that stuck with me the most was the concept of making time to do things that are important for you at the start of the day. Not the things that are important for you to do for other people, but the ones that make a difference to you personally.

Adrienne Herbert got into this habit as a runner, getting up before her family were awake (and before her notifications started demanding her attention) to train. But the principle applies to anything you want to achieve. It might be something you are working towards or it could just be the things you’ve decided to prioritise for your daily well-being.

Morning sun lighting a field over the hills
Image by Dapo Oni via Unsplash

As someone who lives solo, I don’t need to worry about doing things before anyone else is awake (and I have pretty much all notifications turned off on my phone) but as my sleep worsened during the pandemic in 2020 I had found myself getting up later and later to make up for any sleep I’d lost in the night. So much so that I ended up setting my alarm for the minimum amount of time required to get me washed and dressed before sitting at my laptop to start work at 9.

That had improved slightly when I decided to practise yoga every morning, but it still didn’t leave me the time to carve myself out anywhere near an hour. I decided I should start thinking about what I would do with the time if I had it. If I could see the purpose that would motivate me to wake earlier.

Looking back in my notebook, I wrote this:

I really like the idea of having an hour at the start of the day to achieve. Reading first is a good way of bringing me into the day.
For now I just want to build the time habit, so for now I will try:
1) Read
2) Yoga
3) Write to reflect and/or move forward

And having decided how I would use my hour, I set my alarm for 7 the next morning and gave it a go.

My reading focused on books around well-being that I had downloaded but never got round to reading as I couldn’t tear myself away from the thrillers I love to read. Looking back on what I was writing, this included how I could make my job feel more fulfilling; the goals I wanted to achieve both in the short and long term; how I saw my ideal life and really anything that popped into my head.

I wasn’t bounding out of bed full of energy (does anyone actually do that?!) but I was getting up more consistently and enjoying that first hour.

I’ve been through many iterations since then, including trying the Miracle Morning for 30 days. I’ve now got into a pattern that starts with a short period of meditation, is followed by one activity (generally reading, writing or playing the guitar) and finishes with around 20 minutes of yoga. So that my morning isn’t rushed, I wake up between 6 and 6.30. To achieve this I focused on how to improve my sleep and then gradually moved my bedtime forward from 11 to 10.

The key difference for me is that getting up and starting my day (although still a challenge to open my eyes) is something I look forward to. And it’s given me the time to write this article!

Everyone’s lives are different and you may not be able to find the time for an hour focused on you at the start of the day. But you can probably find 10 minutes. And even 10 minutes of time each day can make a difference to how your whole day feels. Take that time, before everything else starts, to dedicate to something that is important just for you.

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