I’ve always been a morning person. Not necessarily cheery the minute that my eyes pop open, but the concept of sleeping in didn’t stick with me until about two years ago. When I’m awake, I’m awake, and there is a day ahead of me where Things Must Be Accomplished.
Imagine, if you will, a twelve-year-old Veronica, growing up in the suburbia that is Lexington, Kentucky. Six o’clock rolls around on a school morning, and she’s awake. Dressed for school and in the kitchen with her cereal, she’s got the morning paper all sorted out for reading before the carpool arrives. When she gets to high school, her first class starts at 6:45 AM (math and science magnet program, certifiable nerddom) and she’s awake by 5:30 AM to be ready for the 6:17 AM pickup. Fast-forward to college, and…
Wait, classes don’t start until 9 AM? What do you do with all of that time?
Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of mornings where I wasn’t wildly productive, but being idle isn’t something that comes naturally. So, the mornings have become my most productive time of the day. With kids needing to be up and off to school, there’s a flurry of activity in the early morning, and then…
Then, the real work happens, and it’s amazing all of the things one can accomplish before lunch with an early start. It’s not just the purely business side of things, but also the activities that get put in the ‘later’ pile because they don’t register as equally important to business success. Exercise, self-care, and family maintenance tasks are just as necessary as email correspondence and script preparation, and it’s possible to tackle those items on the day’s to-do list by starting a little bit earlier.
What could you do with an extra half-hour at the start of the day? Maybe you use that time to catch up with industry news or do some reading to expand your skillsets. Maybe you use those thirty minutes to take a walk or do some yoga. Maybe you go through the household chore list to clear your mental space and set yourself up to relax at the end of your workday. There are lots of possibilities, and they all depend on personal situations and preferences.
When I started working from my home studio in the summer months, I would get up early to have time to work before my kids woke up. Those extra thirty to forty-five minutes meant that I could sip my coffee in relative quiet while I went through e-mail and scheduled my social media posts for the day. I could create the day’s to-do list and glance over the chapters for the day’s recording. Or, I could brainstorm for the next writing project on my plate. Whatever I did, it allowed me to ease into the day at my own pace and be ready to start the day’s recording without feeling that there were so many other things to do.
Once the school year started, getting up early became a necessity rather than an option. The kids’ schools are 20 minutes from the house, so my husband and I take turns driving them in the mornings. Everyone in the house is awake before the Great School Drive begins, but if it’s not my day to take on the morning roads, the house is quiet by 6:45 AM. That’s an invitation for productivity that I can’t ignore, so I take advantage of it. Getting in daily exercise is one of my biggest challenges, so my extra hour often goes to a morning walk and catching up with my latest audiobook listen or podcast favorites. By 9 AM, I’m ready to get into the studio and put in some quality narration until it’s time to engage the afternoon carpool. At that point, I feel like I’ve made some real progress on multiple fronts, both business and personal. Even better, starting the day earlier gives me the energy and freedom to do more things for me and my family. It makes the end of the day less of a rush and helps to establish a better line between “work” and “home” when they both happen in the same space.
So, how would you use that extra thirty minutes in the morning? Could you wake up a little earlier to do ‘afternoon you’ a favor for the day? You’d be surprised at the difference a half-hour can make during the course of the day.
(PS: If you’re on Instagram, you can check out my #coffeewalk pics and updates from my morning adventures for caffeine with a good book or podcast in my ears!)