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12 Things You Didn’t Know Successful People Do Before Breakfast

12 Things You Didn’t Know Successful People Do Before Breakfast
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The “Golden Hour”

Successful people often talk about the “Golden Hour”, which is the first hour after you wake up in the morning. According to this article from the National Institutes of Health, while we are asleep, our brains are hard at work de-cluttering and detoxifying themselves. This means that our brains are at their best right after we wake up, when they’re squeaky-clean from the night’s mental hygiene activities. Successful people have discovered that the “Golden Hour” is the best time of day to prepare ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually for the upcoming day.

The 21-Day Mental Diet

Technically I’m not “successful” yet…but I figured, if I ACT like a successful person, sooner or later I’ll BE a successful person, and in the meantime, I’ll FEEL like a successful person. Which, since none of these practices cost anything except some discipline and a couple hours of sleep, is pretty much a win-win, if you ask me.

It was while I was looking up “how successful people think” that I stumbled onto Brian Tracy’s 21-Day Mental Diet. And guess what? It includes several of the practices mentioned in articles on what successful people do before breakfast. Imagine that! I am currently on day seven of this mental diet, and let me tell you, doing these has really brought a new sense of focus and productivity to my days — which is a tough thing to do when one doesn’t have regular office hours.

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Here’s a quick rundown of what you do on this mental diet:

1. Wake up early – Most top executives get up in the morning at 6:00 AM — at the latest! I get up around 5:00 AM most days.
2. Exercise –  While Brian Tracy suggests doing any physical exercise before mental exercise, I usually have to wait until later in the day to do any physical exercise because of schedule limitations.
3. Read motivational, inspirational or educational material for 30-60 minutes. Personally, I love the Abraham-Hicks material, which really gets my mind and spirit soaring for the day. Other favorites include the books by Wallace D. Wattles, (The Science of Getting Rich) or any of the other New Thought authors. There is a tremendous wealth of free reading material available in the public domain. If you like audio books, look to librivox.org, or for visual reading, check out this New Thought online reading list.
4. Write down your top 10-15 life goals. There is tremendous power in the act of writing, so yes, actually get out a pen and a notebook (What are those?) and physically write these down. Really. Just thinking about it doesn’t cut it. Use first-person, present-tense language: “I am making ___ dollars a year; I weigh ___ pounds; I drive a ___ car, I have ___ friends”, and so on. And don’t look back at your goals from the day before. By the way, this is a LOT of fun!
5. Write down everything you need to do that day. Again, yes, use a real pen and a notebook. Seriously. Organize this list according to priority, starting with the one thing you most want to get done that day.
6. Begin immediately to work on the biggest, most important task of the day. If you can finish this project while your mind is still fresh, it won’t loom over you and worry you for the rest of the day.

Throughout the day, but not necessarily before breakfast:

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  • Listen to educational audio programs while driving
  • Pick up the pace between activities

Other Things That Successful People Do Before Breakfast

These are practices that aren’t part of Brian Tracy’s 21-Day Mental Diet, but are part of the morning routine of many successful people:

7. Write down things they’re grateful for. This is a favorite of mine. Two years ago, I started writing a “Daily Ten” of things that I was thankful for, liked, made me smile and so on.

8. Meditate. Another personal favorite, and if I can’t squeeze it in before breakfast, I do my best to fit it in another time during the day.

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9. Work on a personal passion project. It is very easy to let what we love slip to the last item on our priority list, where it gets put off…and put off…and put off. I know — I never seem to get around to practicing violin!

10. Spend quality time with family/connect with spouses. My husband and I usually sit and talk over our plans for the day over morning coffee while we’re petting the dogs.

11. Network with coworkers, clients, or friends over coffee.  Early morning or breakfast meetings tend to be more productive in the mornings–because guess what? Everyone else’s brain is clearer, too!

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12. Read the news. Find out the problems in the world so that we can figure out ways to solve them!

Featured photo credit: Elle est de retour!/Francois Meehan via photopin.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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