What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up? Going back to bed? Coffee? How about doing something amazing for yourself or for someone else? How about hustling to build your business idea? What about discovering a passion you never knew existed? Or maybe something as simple as being able to watch the sunrise?

It’s no secret that the secret to some of the most successful entrepreneurs and innovative minds boils down to one thing: They wake up early.

But it’s not the “waking up early” part I want to talk about today – whether your crazy like me and wake up at 4am, or sleep until noon, the most important part of your day is the first hour your awake. That first hour sets the tone for everything that follows. How are you spending that time? I’ve got a few suggestions to help you make the most of that (extremely important) first hour.

1. Treat ‘yoself.

This doesn’t have to at all be work or productivity related. This could mean reading, listening to music, watching ridiculous Youtube videos, or going for a run. Do something that makes you feel good. Do something that relaxes you. That makes you smile. That improves your mood.

If you’re reading this and saying, “I don’t have time to do any of that” – Ahem, Make time. Wake up earlier. Your relationship with yourself is the most important you’ll ever have. If you don’t take good care of yourself, you’ll be totally worthless at taking care of your spouse, your friends, or your clients.

2. Write.

Write for your blog. Write in a journal. Start working on the book you’ve been dreaming about (need to take my own advice on this one). Write in the morning when your mind is fresh. When it’s sharp. You don’t have to write for anyone but yourself – but if you take a few minutes, even 10 or 20, and write what first comes to mind – what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking – from the heart, without holding back or editing yourself, you’ll feel refreshed, and likely surprise yourself at what you can create when you write with a clear, sharp mind that isn’t diluted or edited by the clutter of the day. Just write.

3. Go out of your way for someone else.

Do something for someone that will surprise them. Take on a task that is assigned to someone else and let them know that it’s taken care of. Make breakfast for your spouse. Leave a meaningful comment on your favorite blog to let the author know that the post hit home and had an impact. It doesn’t have to be big – it just has to be something.

Imagine if you took 5 minutes each day to surprise and delight someone else. That’s 365 unexpected acts of kindness, generosity, and just plain good-ness. The world would be a helluva lot better if we all spent 1,825 minutes per year going out of the way for each other, wouldn’t it?

4. Take a chance on something new.

You never know how a day is going to transpire. Great things may happen, or you may be faced with failure and disappointment  That’s the unexpected nature of the lives we lead. So before the day has a chance to impact your attitude, for better or worse, do something that’s out of your comfort zone. Surprise yourself.

Go to a Zumba class you’ve been putting off. Send your resume to a company you’ve always wanted to work for. Personal or professional, the only way we learn about ourselves and what we’re capable of is to try – to attempt – take a chance – do.

It doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail – all that matters is that you made the effort. Simply taking action is often overlooked – but even the best idea is nothing without action.

How do you spend the first hour of your day?

Join the conversation! 63 Comments

  1. Great tips! I have to get my 8yo off to school and then wrestle with 18month old, so making time for just me is imperative. Love your blog – keep up the great work!

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    • As someone who doesn’t have any little ones running around (yet), I can only imagine how intense that must be! Here’s to hoping you can find some extra time for yourself – which I know is easier said than done as a busy mom!

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  2. You had me at “Treat ‘yoself.” Loved this message today–and at 4 AM am, you beat me by a half hour! I’m impressed :-)

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  3. This post makes me want to wake up earlier tomorrow and do some of these things. Each of your outlined ideas makes complete sense (especially for the morning person that I already am!).

    Thank you for the inspiration!

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  4. Thanks Matt
    Another great start to my day!!!

    Jill

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  5. Hey Matt – this is a great post, except maybe the 4am bit ;) It’s very timely too as I feel in need of a reboot. I often used to get up and about an hour before the rest of the family and maybe write, or work on a proposal, or even just goof around a bit. Recently I’ve kinda drifted out of that habit so this is a very timely nudge for me to get back on the #earlyshift

    So today I have decided to take a chance on something new. I’ve been teaching myself to paint for a while and the feedback I’m getting from folks is encouraging. Often I send the originals to friends – sometimes they know they’re coming, sometimes a surprise. Anyway, I spotted a place called RedBubble a few days ago, which is a place to sell artistic wares. So – I set myself up on there and hit ‘publish’ today. As of now folks can buy a few of my pictures as cards, prints etc. Will anyone buy? Who knows – and like you say, if you don’t try, you’ll never know eh?

    Cheers – D

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  6. This is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time. I woke up extra early today and there’s no doubt all of your points are right on! Printing for my office!

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    • Thanks, Nicole! PS – I’ll be up in Chicago all next week – let’s get together and catch up!

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        Reply
  7. Great advice, Matt. I wake up early too (but, not as early as you!). I switched my writing to first thing in the morning and love it. When I get to my desk, it’s the first thing I do. I used to check email first and it’s so easy to get bogged down in that, but I wait to do that until I get some things done for me and my business first. Smart advice.

    Reply
    • Yep – I completely relate to the “checking email first thing” dilemma. If I open that first, I get bogged down in it, every time. It’s a challenge, especially because my instinct is to reach for my phone and get caught up as soon as I wake up – but I’m training myself to be productive in other ways before I turn to email (still a work in progress).

      Reply
  8. Well said. I’ve came into a screeching hault followed by a serious of unfortunate events. That extra hour in the morning, before the little one wakes up might just be enough to help me appreciate a few things and transform some of those dreams into realistic goals.

    Reply
    • It will! Without a doubt. I completely understand that time is the most precious commodity – and I completely understand the importance of sleep. But if you can make a little extra time for yourself first thing – before the day gets started, it will really, really pay off. Good luck!

      Reply
  9. Great advice.
    My usual (and best) morning routing involves writing in my journal (Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages) followed by gentle yoga and then the morning hustle & bustle with my daughter and then a brisk 45-min walk before I start work.

    I have noticed over the years that when this routine gets disrupted for more than a few days, my focus and drive suffer. I need that head-clearing part of my day. In a big way. ;)

    The “magic” is different for each person, but it’s SO important to keep that “date” once you figure out the thing (or things) that start you off on the right foot.

    Reply
    • We are creatures of habit – without a doubt. Like you, if I get thrown off from a regular schedule of writing, running, etc. – I feel totally…”off”. It’s important to schedule that time for yourself – even if you literally block it off in your calendar. Thanks, as always, for reading, Jamie!

      Reply
  10. Within my first hour of getting up, I’m feeding my dogs and horses. Then I take time for me…=)

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  11. The very first hour of the day is spent getting my kid off to school. So I consider the first hour of “my” day the hour after she’s dropped off. I’ll usually write, exercise or both. Sometimes I’ll play with my dogs or just sit on my couch and think. I have no routine; I just do what I feel like that day.

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  12. Great read Matt. I also like to Reflect. What did I do yesterday that I can apply today? What can I improve upon? How can I offer more of myself; how can I be better? The promise of tomorrow is based on what I do today, and today is the result of yesterday’s steps (those that us backwards and those that will drive us forward)

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  13. One of my favorite posts so far.

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  14. Simple & brilliant, I dig this post a lot!! Tomorrow I’m going to treat “maself”…thank you.

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  15. Dig this post! I started getting up earlier now and sort of don’t know what to do with tht extra 30/60 mins. This post helps me figure it out!

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  16. Wow. I have never thought of it this way before. I am an introvert and I definitely need that “me” time, but so often I need to remember that I can have that down time in the morning. Thanks for sharing.
    P.S. Just found your blog and I love it!
    Sierra
    Oh, Just Living the Dream

    Reply
  17. Good bit of advice. I typically read a bit.

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  18. Years ago I was stressed out every morning which lead to being stressed out every day. Each day I leapt out of bed into a frenzy of “productive” activity. It was really wigging me out. Then one day, I got up 20 minutes earlier, not even a half hour earlier. I changed not one thing about my activities, I just took my time. Another 5 minutes laying in bed after the alarm but before getting up, another 3 minutes in the shower, another 4 minutes at the breakfast table, and I don’t even know how I “squandered” the rest. It was transformative. The minor cost of 20 minutes sleep changed my whole day. So if the idea of an hour scares you, try 20 minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

    Reply
  19. I love the idea of taking an hour for myself every morning. Having recently completely changed my life to care for my aging parents, including moving into their home as a caregiver (thank God for my virtual business that allowed this) – I find “me time” is almost nonexistent. Just this week, I started rising earlier in the morning in an effort to cram a couple more hours into my day. I fully plan to make one of those hours – or part of one – “mine”, starting tomorrow.

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  20. This is inspired me to get up earlier this morning which lead me to sweep my kitchen floor and I got to drink ALL of my coffee before I ran out the door…SUCCESS. Thanks Matt!

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  21. Brilliant advice :) Planning something appealing to do in the morning makes it so much easier to get up and find motivation for the day.

    Reply
  22. Hi Matt
    Awesome post , we both are having similar Ideas and the best thing u r doing is posting in the blog. Great Job .
    This is the Best article I have ever read in my Life related to personal life

    Thank you
    Srinivas

    Reply
  23. What an awesome article Matt! Absolutely loved it. I’m going to use this every day and think EVERYONE SHOULD!!! It’s perfect. Love your writing style too!

    Reply
  24. Good advice! Now all I need to do is set that alarm clock …. and stop hitting the snooze button!!! With 4 small kids my mornings, days and evenings are fully committed but if I could get up before them maybe I’d get to have 5 minutes me-time. Despite the fact that I feel permanently tired, I think you’ve nearly convinced me to try it out rather than thinking sleep, sleep, sleep …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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  25. Thank you for this insight :)

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  26. Such a great motivational article is this, really very happy to find it…

    Reply
  27. I spent the first part of my first hour today reading this post :) It’s a great post and I really enjoyed it. I’ll be back to check this blog in future

    Reply
  28. Usually my first hour will be on a commute, but I listen to good music and read great advices from my favorite blog (including this one!).

    I think the first 3 hours are as important though, not just the first hour. If I woke up at 8, I’ll be very energetic and enthusiastic for all 3 hours. My first hour is dedicated to good music/coffee/food, the second and third, I dedicated it to thinking about (crazy) stuff, hustling to build my business idea etc.

    I’m loving my routine. I guess that’s a good sign that I am happy. :)

    Thanks for this inspiring article.

    Reply
  29. Hi,i really like this piece,just to let you know,you’ve awoken me.Thanks.

    Reply
  30. Hello…I stumbled upon your blog after doing a google search on “what to do if I can’t go back to school?” I know, not a big fan of the back-to-school thing but in my case very necessary since I did my schooling and work out of the country. Some valid points you brought up though :)
    But, back to this, ummm…My boyfriend’s work schedule requires him to get up at 5:30am every day. We are opposites on the morning v.s night person with me being a night person. Usually, the first 15 mins of the day are spent with a little cuddle time and re-connection (which knocks 1 and 3 off the list:). Sometimes that means me going off on a tangent about my latest sci-fi dream while still half-asleep. It’s amazing what this does for my over-all mood for the rest of the day and feels like I’ve nurtured myself and my sweetheart too!

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  31. And oh yes, I agree you need to MAKE time. Did I mention I’m a mom of 2 boys? I just make sure to get up while they’re still asleep;)

    Reply
  32. [...] the things that we all know but are afraid to saw out loud, more or less actually DO them. From practical advice on productivity to overcoming fears and starting over, he covers it [...]

    Reply
  33. i never think i’ve come accross something of this type for long…this is a nice job done though i do wake up early as possible and my first job to do is to go through my books then later forge ahead to doing other things that runs in my mind but there was this time i noticed that i’ve become so lazy to doing all my normal stuffs again and i became so disturbed and terriffied so,the question now is,what is the way out?

    Reply
  34. [...] I am Shring This Article From : Original Article [...]

    Reply
  35. As a stay at home mom of two my thoughts and todo lists are often filled with what I need to do for everyone else. These are wonderful tips on how to organize my time for me! Thank you!

    Reply
  36. Hear, hear! I love mornings. :)

    (Also, sorry to be “that guy/gal,” but you’ve got a couple your/you’re issues in your 3rd paragraph.)

    Reply
  37. LOVE your advice!!! Great article :)

    Reply
  38. Great blog here! Also your web site loads up fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link
    to your host? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

    Reply
  39. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of
    content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot
    of text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space
    it out better?

    Reply
  40. I love this article, and I totally agree, the air in the early morning is fresh, makes your mind clear, the silence lets you have the greatest ideas ever.. very inspiring!

    Reply
  41. I almost always check email first and get it out of the way. But last week for 2 days my computer had crashed and it was interesting to have 2 days without email checking. In fact, no Internet at all. So I switched to my other computer that isn’t connected to the Internet and worked on my book and made some cold calls.

    Even though checking emails is important, it’s amazing how much time it sucks out of your day. Never realized it before.

    Reply
  42. Thanks Matt, this is a big eye opening piece you have here. Will start waking up “very” early.

    Reply
  43. Hey there I am so grateful I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Yahoo for something else,
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    Reply
  44. I have always worked extremely hard in my current role, until lately because I feel all efforts go unoticed, and always someone wanting to take the credit for work they haven’t done!!! I’ve recently been told my salary banding will be under review despite the only changes mean i’m now working harder than ever!!! IT’S PANT’S. So i’ve been looking for something I can start off with slowly as another means of making income “Working from Home” along side my 9-5 job,eventually I would like to be self employed and not employed. I have to complete an “All about me Profile” for a Company i’ve just signed up to work for and just realised I haven’t time for me for “ages” no hobbies as such and not a lot to write about!!!! I went in search of what type of things I should write about me, thinking about the audience I mneed to capture, and came across MATT CHEUVRONT and a picture of you with a Welsh Flag in the background. I’m Welsh and it made me want to read more………. I think I now know what to write “about me” and realise there is more to life, I don’t want to be a “Day Job” sucker any more :-) Thanks Matt.

    Reply
  45. [...] the beginning of a lifewithoutpants.com November 2012 item by Matt [...]

    Reply

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About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

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