By Leo Babauta
As your day starts, it’s easy to get lost in the habit of checking messages, replying to email, checking the news and your favorite blogs.
It’s easy to fritter your day away doing a thousand small harmless actions … but the essential actions get put off.
The antidote, I’ve found, is putting a little emphasis on making the first hour of your day the most powerful hour. Treating that first hour as sacred, not to be wasted on trivial things, but to be filled with only the most essential, most life-changing actions.
Sacred actions might include:
- Writing (or creating in some other way)
- Practicing or studying
- Practicing yoga
- Focusing on your most important task of the day
On the days when I’m able to take those kinds of sacred actions, my entire day is changed. I am more mindful, I am more energetic, and I’m more focused and productive.
Treating this first hour as sacred helps me to remember that every hour is sacred, if I treat it as such. It helps me to remember that I don’t have a lot of hours left (I have no idea how many hours are left!), and that I have to live each one with appreciation and mindfulness.
My Current First Hour
The time that I wake up, and my morning routine, has varied over the years. It never stays the same, changing sometimes monthly. But when things tend to drift off into mindlessness, I refocus myself and choose a sacred routine that I find helpful.
Here’s what I’m doing right now with my first hour:
- A short meditation
- Short yoga practice (or run with Eva)
I’ve only started doing this, so I keep each action fairly short (other than writing). The yoga practice, for example, is just a short series of poses, instead of a longer practice that I might want to develop over time. I’ve found it useful to start small when you get started, to form the habit.
Creating Your Powerful First Hour
You don’t have to choose the same mix as me, of course. The idea is to figure out what you think would be most powerful for your life, and put those into your sacred hour.
You might not know what mix works for you … pick something and try it. A good mix might include:
- Some kind of meditation or reflection (gratitude journal, for example)
- Your most important task
- Something that takes concentration, like creating, reading, or studying
- Something physical, like a run, yoga, workout, tai chi
But none of that is fixed in stone. If you find that you can’t concentrate in your first hour, maybe you use it for physical activity like taking a walk. If you don’t like physical activity, maybe you do something you’ve been putting off for a long time, like decluttering.
The main question to ask yourself is: if you were given the gift of an hour in the morning, what would you spend it on? What would make a big difference in your day?
Then test it out. Try the routine for a week and see what happens. Adjust if needed.
If you are already rushed in the morning and don’t have time to do all that, maybe start waking a little earlier. But I would guess that most of us have a little extra time that we spend on checking messages and other things online, that we could use in a different way. Instead of spending it on little things, reclaim that sacred time for more powerful actions.
My New Course: The First Hour – Create Powerful Mornings
I’m excited to offer a new course, called “The First Hour: Create Powerful Mornings,” as part of my Sea Change Program.
I invite you to join us in this 4-week course, by joining Sea Change today.
Sea Change is my monthly membership program for changing habits, learning mindfulness and changing your life. Each month, we focus on something different, and this month it’s creating a powerful morning routine.
What you’ll get with this course:
- Two video lessons per week
- A challenge to do a short morning routine session six days a week for the whole month
- A weekly check-in for the challenge so you stay accountable
- A live video webinar where you can ask me questions
I encourage you to join me and have your efforts to change your old patterns be supported by me and more than a thousand other Sea Change members.