Core4Life Book Review

AndrewbeDRIVEN, Book Reviews

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life

By: Laura Vanderkam

When your boss recommends a book for you to read, it’s usually in your best interest to at least give it a cursory review. Out of the three books he recommended, I chose Vanderkam’s because it was the shortest. As it turns out, this little book was exactly the kick in the pants I needed.

I would never say that I am a morning person. Other than dragging myself out of bed for an occasional workout, I’m all about the snooze button. It’s always been my intention to get up early and be productive right away but the temptation to rollover and get another 30 minutes of sleep always gets me. 

This short book (about an hour of audio time) put into words the way I feel on the rare mornings that I actually get up the first time my alarm goes off. It’s always hard to make time for yourself as the day gets moving and by the evening I’m usually worn out and looking to relax. 

The Author: Laura Vanderkam

Vanderkam introduces the concept of willpower and how it’s similar to a muscle. Your willpower gets fatigued as the day wears on. Each day you start fresh will a full tank of willpower so it’s important to invest in your top priorities at the start of the day. As meetings, phone calls, and your inbox sap your energy during the day it’s difficult to find the will to tackle projects or invest in yourself in the evening.

Vanderkam found three main areas that the successful people she interviewed focused on in the morning. The areas of career development, relationships, and yourself all had long term benefits. 

From a career perspective mornings were great for focused work. You likely won’t have meetings or a large amount of emails to answer early in the morning. Spending uninterrupted morning time on projects and items that need greater focus can help you accomplish much more. Afternoons tend to have many more distractions, affecting how productive you can be. She also recommended professional breakfasts as a better way to network compared to after work happy hour that tends to be more social and less professional. 

Mornings can also be the ideal time to build relationships before any of the day’s stress hits you. Making breakfast with your kids and spending quality time talking with your spouse or significant other to start the day were two suggestions. Instead of acting like two ships passing in the night, give your loved ones your undivided attention the start the day. She also suggested sex at dawn as a great way to start any day. No arguments here. 😉

The snooze struggle is real

The primary ways people focused on themselves in the mornings were exercise, reading, and prayer or meditation. Getting your mind and body right before diving into the day’s list of to-dos will always make even the hardest days more manageable. Taking a morning jog or meditating on your favorite verse can put you in a position to be more focused and mindful. I related to this topic the most as I never regretted getting up and exercising with friends to start the day. 

Vanderkam had a few suggestions to start making your mornings more successful and productive:

  1. Start a time journal to see where you are currently spending the most time unproductively.
  2. Picture your ideal morning and write down what you want it to look like.
  3. Turn off the TV/Screen and get a good night sleep.
  4. Start slowly and build your ideal morning over time rather than all at once.
  5. Habits take time to form but once they are in place it does not take much willpower to keep them.
  6. Remember that each day is a new chance to do things right.

I know I won’t be able to do everything that I want each morning but here’s to hitting my snooze button a bit less and spending more quality time with my wife and kids to start each day.  

You can pick up the book here –

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