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What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: How to Achieve More at Work and at Home Paperback – 2013
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About the Author
Laura Vanderkam is also the author of 168 Hours and All the Money in the World. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, CBS's MoneyWatch, USA Today, and Fortune, among other. She lives outside of Philadelphia. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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It was well written and I have no real complaints other than the title being misleading. It wasn't a guide at all. It was humorous but not very instructive.
Also it led me to inadvertent irony in action - I stayed up late reading this book and ended up oversleeping the next day.
Mornings hold the key to taking control of our schedules, full stop. Drawing on anecdotes from some well-known American executives and solid scientific research Venderkam provides a compelling case for altering the way we start our day.
Studies show that most Americans, across age groups, get up at about 6 a.m. The time between waking and starting work is spent herding children towards the door for school, tidying up, personal grooming, commuting and so on.
From a study of the time logs and profiles of high-achieving people Vanderkam reports that former CEO of Pepsico, Steve Reinemund is up at 5 a.m., goes for a 4-mile run, prays and eats breakfast with his family before going to run a Fortune 500 Company. James Citrin, head of Spencer Stuart is also exercising at 6:00 and then spends time in quiet time to consider the day ahead. Citrin did a survey of the morning rituals of executives he admired to find that the latest any of them was up regularly was 6 a.m. Successful people have their priorities clear and early mornings are the time when they have most control over their schedules. But that is probably true for all of us.
We can divide the world up into “night people” and “morning people.” Both groups have only 168 hours each week, but not all hours are equally suited to all things. The common reason for not rising early cited by “night people” is that they do their best work then. There is little scientific evidence that this is true.
Professor Roy Baumeister has spent his career studying self-discipline (I reviewed his book in this paper earlier this year,) and has found a direct correlation between fatigue and self-discipline. “Diets are broken in the evening, not the morning. The majority of impulsive crimes are committed after 11:00 p.m. Lapses in drug use, alcohol abuse, sexual misbehaviour… tend to come about late in the day.”
In the early hours of the day we have enough will-power and energy to tackle things that require internal motivation, and that are rarely rewarded immediately. Baumeister also proved that once something is a routine or habit, it requires very little self-discipline to continue. Applied to the argument of this book, people who turn high value tasks into morning rituals conserve their energy for later battles.
What are the best morning habits? Vanderkam’s research showed that successful people use their mornings for nurturing their careers, nurturing their relationships, and nurturing themselves.
Nurturing your career can take the form of doing focused work, reading in your field, and thinking strategically about your projects or company, or planning the day. One executive is quoted as saying: Every day I have a job; in the morning I think I have a career.
To “nurture relationships” Vandekam advised one single mother to get to bed early so she can use her early mornings for Mommy-and-me time with her daughter before beginning her commute to work. What a beautiful way to start a day, giving your child your best, not what is left over of you at the end of the day. Much is made of the value of families having dinner together for the stability and moral growth of children. This surely true of pleasant breakfasts, too.
Statistics indicate that dual income couples can find only 12 minutes a day to talk to each other. Early mornings might go some way to address this relationship issue.
And then there is “nurturing yourself.” Most of the executives the author quotes use part of their early starts to exercise or do yoga – examples are Xerox’s Ursula Burns, Coors’ van Paasschen, Rodale’s Steve Murphy among others. These are incredibly busy people and they choose the mornings for their exercise routines possibly without knowing how beneficial exercise at this time of day really is. Stress hormones released on waking are counteracted by exercise, as is the blood glucose effects of high-fat diets, and so much more. People exercising in the morning are also more likely to stick to this routine with the heightened ability to apply self-discipline at this time.
Spiritual practices – praying, studying scripture or meditating were also found to be popular.
The inability to get to bed early enough to allow for an early rise because of the many chores that have to be done before going to bed, doesn’t hold up according to Vanderkam. In the same way that dieticians tell dieters to keep a food log, Vanderkam suggests that to know how you spend your time is best seen from actually tracking it. This involves jotting down what you are doing as you are doing it so you can reflect on exactly how you spend your time. It will become evident that much of the night time activity is unnecessary and of a far lower priority than what can be gained by the early start.
This is a practical guide that addresses many of the logistic and other complications that prevent one seizing the golden hours of the day. It will inspire you to rethink your morning routine and you will be so much better off for doing so.
Readability Light +---- Serious
Insights High --+-- Low
Practical High +---- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
Now, let me share my own proclivities: I am not and never have been a "morning person." I tend to be more of a night owl and do some of my best work in the evening hours. Vanderkam references the differences inherent in what she calls night owls (a camp she identifies with) and larks (those who more naturally rise before dawn). But she also points out that most of fall in between these two dichotomies. My own morning routines tend to revolve around rising so that I have just enough time to do what I HAVE to do: coffee, hygiene, coffee, kids, transportation, coffee, get to meetings/work. Reading this book revealed thoughts about not only how others have found success through rising earlier (not news) but why this is so and specifically how we might apply some of these disciplines to our own lives. I found this level of detail refreshing, and liked her honest approach to habit formation (clue: it is NOT just a matter of willpower).
In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and, more importantly, have started to actively apply many of its recommendations and precepts into my daily life. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to make time for the important, not just urgent, things in their lives.
I thought I might learn something actually helpful, but all this book contains is autobiographical fluff interspersed with forty-year-old suggestions on when to do what ... all of which conflicts.
Oh, this book is such a waste of time and money. Just don't bother.
Most recent customer reviews
Short on details.
Short on research.
Just short all over.
A little disorganized, but it coupd be useful to someone.