By Laura Vanderkam | May 17, 2011
Mornings are a mad-cap time in many households. Everyone’s so focused on getting out the door that you can easily lose track of just how much time is passing. I’ve had hundreds of people keep time logs for me over the past few years (you can see some of mine here and here), and I’m always amazed to see gaps of 90 minutes or more between when people wake up and when they start the commute or school car pool.
That would be fine if the time was used intentionally, but often it isn’t.
The most productive people, however, realize that 90 minutes, 120 minutes or more is a long time to lose track of on a busy weekday. If you feel like you don’t have time for personal priorities later in the day, why not try using your mornings? Streamline breakfast, personal care and kid routines. Then you can use 30-60 minutes to try one of four things:
1. Play, read, or talk with your kids. Mornings can be great quality time, especially if you have little kids who go to bed soon after you get home at night, but wake up at the crack of dawn. Set an alarm on your watch, put away the iPhone, and spend a relaxed half an hour reading stories or doing art projects. If you have older children, aim for a leisurely family breakfast. Everyone talks through their plans for the day and what’s going on in their lives. If family dinners aren’t a regular thing in your house, this is a great substitute.
2. Exercise. You shower in the morning anyway, so why not get sweaty first? Trade off mornings with your partner on who goes out and runs and who stays home with the kids. Or, if your kids are older (or you don’t have any) work out together and make it a very healthy morning date.
3. Indulge your creative side. Lots of people would like to resurrect a creative hobby like painting, photography, scrapbooking, writing, even practicing an instrument. What if you went to bed a little earlier three times a week? Skip that last TV show or those last emails and get up a little earlier the next morning to put in some time at your easel before the day gets away from you.
4. Think. Strategic thinking time is incredibly important for seizing control of our lives. Spend 30 minutes in the morning pondering what you want to do with your time. You could also use this time to pray or read religious literature, to meditate or write in a journal. All of these will help you start the day in a much better place than if everyone’s running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
Note: Are you looking for a better start to your day, or to use your time more effectively in general? I’d like to do a few time makeovers of readers over the next few weeks. Email me if you’d be interested in logging your time, trying a few strategies, and sharing what you learn. Thanks!