If you have kids (even if you don’t), the morning can be crazy. You stayed up too late watching that last episode on Netflix or the game, you hit the snooze button too much, and now you are racing out the door. Throwing lunches together, stuffing breakfast into your mouth.
There is a lot at stake in what we do with our mornings. In fact, the most productive people maximize their mornings.
Here’s the reality, though: If you don’t make the most of your morning, you will feel behind all day.
If your day is determined by your morning, how do you make the most of it?
Here are six ideas:
1. Get up before everyone. If you want to make the most of your morning, whether you are single, married or have kids, you have to get up before everyone else. You must be up before people start sending you texts and emails.
There is something that happens in the quietness of a morning, when it is still dark out.
I know, you are exhausted and not a morning person. I get it.
When we started our church I would work late into the night because I hated the mornings, but the reality is that most people do their best work and best thinking in the morning.
There is a definite difference to my day when I am up before everyone else and when I am not.
Parents know this truth because they feel behind if they wake up when their kids do.
2. Pick a spot. Place is important to many people, but particularly when it comes to focus for your heart. Choosing a spot that you return to each morning to recharge, focus and pray is incredibly important.
This might be a porch, a spot in your room or a favorite chair.
Wherever it is, don’t simply make this haphazard. Choose a spot that will help to quiet you and focus your heart.
The consistency of a spot and place will also start to create in your mind a signal that it is time to relax, think and connect with Jesus. This becomes a very powerful part of maximizing your time.
3. Read/Journal. Focusing for your day will often come through feeding your soul first.
For me, it is spending time reading my Bible. Being able to have space to read, process, write down what God is doing in your heart and mind is incredibly important.
What things stand out to you while reading your Bible? Write them down.
Many people find a lot of relief from getting their thoughts and feelings out of their minds and onto paper. This is often a great stress reliever but also a place to leave something behind. You can also keep track of things you are praying for and when those prayers are answered.
4. Pray/Think. In the busyness of life, especially with kids, if you want to have time to pray and think in silence, you will have to carve it out. This is why you need to get up before everyone else. If you want quiet, you have to make it happen. Quiet does not magically find you.
If you are a leader, this is very important.
Part of your job as a leader is thinking and praying through what is next for your organization, your church and your family. As a parent, you must spend time thinking and praying about what is next for your marriage and your kids.
Recently, an older leader challenged me on this and said, “Josh, if you don’t spend time thinking and praying about what is next for your church, who do you think is?”
5. Tackle your hardest task first. If you’ve noticed, you haven’t done any work yet. For many people, you might be wondering when you start being productive.
But I would say that all of the above will bring greater levels of productivity and success.
As you think through your day, do what takes the most mental energy, the hardest task, the thing that will move the ball the furthest in your life and career, first.
For me and many pastors, this is sermon prep, not a meeting or a counseling session. Tackle the tasks that are not only hard but move the ball furthest in your life or work.
6. Turn on electronics. Notice, this is last and depending on how long everything else took you, it might be until lunch time before you check email, Facebook or Instagram. That isn’t a bad thing (unless your boss would be mad at you about checking your email that late, which is a different topic). Side note, if your boss doesn’t like that, have a conversation about how you can be more productive if you don’t check your email first thing in the morning.
Why does that help?
Email has a way of hijacking your day and brain. It sidetracks you. On sermon prep mornings, I don’t check my email until I am done. It keeps my head clear.
The reality is, no one else is responsible to make you successful, effective or productive. You are. If you aren’t, as much as we don’t want to admit it, that is often on us.
Take control of what you can control.
This article originally appeared here.