Did anyone see the recent article outlining 10 things successful people do before breakfast? You can probably guess it wasn’t sleep like normal people. It was the sort of thing that exposes your own grappling with the morning gloom, having overslept again, as less than satisfactory. As if you needed reminding.
The main thrust was ‘do you aspire to have the pizzazz (whatever that is) of Heidi Klum? The inventive streak of Martha Stewart? The $US3.1 billion net worth of Starbucks head honcho Howard Schultz?’ Well, it turns out that waking up a few hours earlier could be the secret. To be honest I’d rather have another hour’s sleep, but that isn’t what thrusted the western world from darkness into the industrial age.
The thing is, it’s about the pursuit of wealth, and pizzazz of course. But what’s wealth if it can’t buy an extra hour in bed? Everyone is obsessed with money. The Left are obsessed with some people having more than others, while the Right are obsessed with people earning it. Yet there is no time of year like Christmas to realise how little we actually need, in the UK. It’s not like the 1950s, when a plumbed-in bath was like the arrival of a new civilisation. Most people on their death bed don’t wish for more money, but more time. Money does buy a better quality of life, but so does imagination and appreciation of what you have.
But anyway, apparently, stumbling out of bed, ‘grabbing a bad bodega coffee’ (whatever the fuck that is) and heading to the office before you’ve had a chance to figure out the day is apparently not only bad for your health — it’s bad for your career.
Productivity coach Jeff Sanders, author of The 5am Miracle aims to change these bad habits. He advocates ‘easing yourself into the day and using the quiet morning hours to get a head start on work, as well as working on yourself. It’s the time of day when you’re the most focused, the most energised.’ Has this man ever actually met anyone in the morning? For some lighting the day’s first cigarette without setting their hair alight is an achievement. And surely what better way than to work on yourself than getting enough sleep so you’re not staggering through the day like you’ve been shot in the head.
He advocates doing 10 things before breakfast. I’m unsure I achieve 10 things before supper but still.
PLAN FOR TOMORROW THE NIGHT BEFORE
To make the most of today, you need to start yesterday. Like President Obama, who sets out his schedule the night before, or at least gets someone else to. This is good advice, and I’ve always planned to make a cup of tea when I wake up.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
A 2012 study showed that even mild dehydration caused difficulty in concentrating. “The first thing I do, before breakfast, coffee, before working out, is drink four 8-ounce glasses of water to wake my body from the inside out,” says Sanders. I can only presume there is a good wi-fi connection in Howard Schultz’s toilet.
CHANNEL YOUR INNER BUDDHA
I mean, what??? Sit cross legged humming. It’s a lovely idea, but it doesn’t get the kids to school with the same efficiency as screaming at them while stalling the car.
HIT THE GYM
Morning exercise gives you energy to start the day, but it also gives rise to creativity. I’m not sure being helped out from under dumb-bells by gym staff is a particularly noble way to start the day, but Vogue editrix Anna Wintour plays tennis every day before work. So there you go. Besides, ‘Hit the gym’? Who actually talks like this?
TURN THINGS UPSIDE DOWN
Yup. This is serious. And if these are the sorts of creative ideas Jeff Sanders is getting as a result of waking up so early perhaps it’s advisable that he stays in bed. He suggests becoming a real-life Batman by donning gravity boots and hanging upside down for 10 minutes a day. “It sends blood and oxygen rushing to your brain.” Well, I guess it will make it easier for your family to kick you in the head.
The fact that author Dan Brown is an advocate of the technique is hardly encouraging, but may explain rather a lot.
EMBRACE THE QUIET TIME
Benjamin Franklin spent up to an hour quietly milling around his chambers, reading or writing. It was his way of greeting the day and gathering his thoughts. Now this I can get with, but surely this can happen at any time of day, which is why most writers became writers, to mill around, (cough) I mean crack on with the manuscript.
TACKLE A BIG PROJECT
Basically Sanders himself attests to this by saying: “I wrote my book during the early hours.” The only appropriate response to such smugness is to wish he is wearing his gravity boots so you can more easily kick him in the head.
READ A MOTIVATIONAL BOOK
Everyone needs a cheerleader, Sanders says, and that’s fair enough, although I’m less sure wives and girlfriends will approve. However, some sickeningly platitudedinal motivational book that only helps the author by selling in its millions, is less attractive.
CLEAR THOSE EMAILS
Take a leaf out of Martha Stewart’s book and use the early hours to start sifting through your mail. I admire this, but I seriously question the wisdom of wasting an hours sleep to go through emails from my sister, mother and Juno Records confirming the latest record I’ve bought that I don’t really need.
DO SOMETHING NONWORK-RELATED
At last, he starts talking sense. Presumably it’s finally daybreak and he’s in the company of people. As he says it can’t be all work, work, work.