Gini Dietrich

How Successful People Spend the First Hour of their Day

By: Gini Dietrich | August 29, 2012 | 

Mitch Joel does a nice roundup of articles on his blog every weekend.

Unlike Gin and Topics, though, his are serious and very informative.

He, Alistair Croll, and Hugh McGuire each recommend two links for one another and they all end up in a blog post.

A very cool way to do a roundup and something I look forward to seeing every Sunday.

This past weekend, Mitch recommended an article to Hugh that I keep thinking about after reading it. In fact, Joe Hackman and I recorded a podcast about the topic yesterday because I can’t stop thinking about it.

The First Hour of the Day

It’s a Fast Company article called, “What Successful People Do With the First Hour of the Day,” and the author revealed how David Karp  (Tumblr founder), Tony Robbins, and other business leaders start their days.

Guess how most do not start their days?

With email.

Some do, however, spend their first hour meditating, exercising, and/or visualizing their days.

Others work on the biggest project of the day so it’s behind them and the little stuff can get accomplished in between meetings and calls.

And yet others, such as Craig Newmark (the founder of Craigslist), spend their first hour on customer service – putting out fires, managing complaints, and responding to customers on both Craigslist and the boards.

My First Hour

I’m writing this blog post during my first hour of the day. I woke up this morning, at 4:45, with a 106 pound dog staring me in the face. After I whispered, “Just half an hour more,” he settled his nose into my neck and we slept until 5:23.

After feeding and walking him, I turned on my laptop and began to write this blog post.

It won’t take me the full hour to finish it so I’ll also schedule the tweets about it for the rest of the day, I’ll read and schedule the guest post, I’ll schedule those tweets, and I’ll spend about 30 minutes reading, and commenting, on other’s blogs.

By then it’ll be 7 a.m. and then I’ll get into my email. After that, I’ll look at Facebook and Twitter. And then my day will truly begin.

When we had an office, the first hour was always spent writing the day’s blog post and then I’d ride my bike. But this year, my New Year’s resolution was FOCUS and that included taking a break after I’d been sitting at my desk for six or seven hours. So now I ride at noon.

Your First Hour

But, Gini, I’ll hear some of you say, I don’t own a company or I don’t have that kind of flexibility or I can’t get up that early or I’m not a morning person or about a zillion other excuses.

When I worked at Rhea & Kaiser. The receptionist sat at the front desk and “clocked” you in each morning. We were to be there by 8:30, but for some reason (even though I lived less than 10 minutes away), I could not, for the life of me, get there before 8:45.

I used to go round and round with Steve Rhea because I was always there until 8 p.m. or later and I did a ton of travel with clients that didn’t get counted in that extra 15 minutes I felt like I had to use for sleeping instead of getting to work on time. “But I’m not a morning person,” I’d whine to him.

Perhaps he created the 5 a.m. monster, but 10 years later, my brain rarely functions past 6 p.m., but I get a ton accomplished before noon.

My point is, you can be a morning person. You can create your own flexibility. You can tackle your biggest project of the day, from home. You can choose not to get into your email until later.

It doesn’t matter if you own the joint or not. It what allows you to be productive and any boss will be happy with your system if you’re productive.

So…how do you spend your first hour each day?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • ElissaFreeman

    So true! (Especially as it’s 7:43 while I’m reading this!). I’ve trained myself to make a list BEFORE I start working to keep myself focussed.  It’s also amazing how much I can get done in the first two hours (7 – 9 a.m.) of the day…and trust me, nobody is more suprised by this fact than me…as I was also an early morning whiner….

    •  @ElissaFreeman LOL! It’s because no one is around to interrupt you. It’s fantastic, isn’t it?

  • rdopping

    Ha! That’s hilarious! I have a 5 lb dog (Yorkie) staring me in the face at 5:30am every morning. We have met so the irony should not be lost on you. 
    I have a similar routine but only a few days a week do I write before my usual social media romp. I spend the first 90min of my day reading blogs and leaving comments and looking for fodder for my weekly posts. It takes that time because I actually read the posts and try to absorb the content before forming a comment (that and maybe I am a bit slow). The rest; Twitter, Facebook, etc sort of comes and goes (no real dedication to it) for me.
    I have a lot of respect for Mitch Joel. His book Six Pixels was one of the the reasons I ventured into the blogging world. I also read his blog (more sporadically now). There is merit in starting your day focused on your creativity especially for me as it is the time of day that I am the sharpest. You are so right, productivity is a big deal to everyone no matter what you do.
    Thanks Gini.

    •  @rdopping Oh no…the irony is NOT lost on me. 🙂 It’s funny how our days change. I used to spend an hour each night reading blogs. I had to stop doing that because of my travel this year, but I try to get in a few every morning. Not as many as I used to, but alas. I guess we’re all human.

  • G-dog, what I find interesting and you hint at it is the assumption that the first hour MUST be in the morning. You have move away from the physical for the office now you need to be more flexible with the temporal

    •  @faybiz Well, the first hour of the day IS in the morning. It’s not in the evening…unless you work the night shift. 

      •  @ginidietrich GERTIE- the title of your own piece is “THEIR DAY” not their morning…  so much in work and life now is being done asynchonously BIG WORD!

        •  @faybiz Oh fine. My first hour is definitely in the morning. I’m not a night owl.

        •  @ginidietrich right, so would you preclude the hire of someone who worked only during what are your night hours?
          get it get it?

        •  @faybiz Yes, I would. Because we’re in a client service business we have to work the hours our clients work…and all of them are normal business hour days. That said, we are VERY goal/results-oriented. Which means, if people are exceeding their goals, I have zero problem with their taking extra taking time off or exercising in the middle of the day. But yes, they’re all required to be available for clients from 8:30-5:30.

        •  @ginidietrich You are going to keep this chain going with all your assumptions…
          you have employees in different time zones yes?
          but they must be available 830-530 (Chicago time, I assume?)
          Does this mean you only have local clients?

  • Reading Spin Sucks of course! I have a sleeping 13 month old to extract myself from when the alarm goes off at 4:50am. I stumble into the kitchen for at least 2 big glasses of water. I hope and pray everyone stays asleep while I get ready and am out the door by 5:48am. (If not, I can apply mascara while holding a baby!)
    I listen to a podcast during my commute, which one depends on the day. I usually get to Six Pixels by midweek. I peruse my reeder app. I’m usually in the office around 6:40am. Then I finish reading blogs etc and if it’s Wednesday, finalize our podcast blog and post it.
    I guess I’m not very exciting, but I did order my first pair of Vibram’s yesterday, so the early hours will be switching to a run.

    •  @katskrieger Brown noser! (I love you!)
      Do you use Zite? I actually like it better than Reeder. It makes me feel like I accomplish more. And I saw your update about the Vibram’s! You’ll love the couch to 5K program. It works really, really well!

      •  @ginidietrich Well now I need to try it out. I’ve been dedicated to Reeder for awhile, but totally open to something new.  What are the advantages?

        •  @katskrieger It manages the feeds for you…and then recommends other stuff you’re not reading. It also is like Flipboard in that it looks like a magazine. I think you’ll like it. I used to be addicted to Reeder, but I like this better.

        •  @ginidietrich  @katskrieger A big +1 on the Vibrams (I love mine!), Zite and the Couch to 5k program. 
          Another really great reader is Mr. Reader. Less magazine format than Zite. Social sharing is baked in. 

  • Love this blog post! My favorite days start with swimming or going for a bike ride. Unfortunately that sometimes gets sidelined by deadlines and other obligations. Thanks for the reminder, though.

    •  @glonigro I feel about exercise like I do about brushing my teeth…no one wants to see or talk to me until I’ve done both.

  • You wrote that in under an hour?
    I hate you.

    •  @Sean McGinnis I hate her, too.

      •  @BobReed  @Sean McGinnis I think that’s the advantage of writing every day. I have 80 draft blog posts, which is where I throw links of articles I find interesting that compel a blog post. By the time I sit down to write, I’ve already thought about the topic and the outline in my head. And, let’s be real, I write so early, I don’t have time to even think. I just write.

        •  @ginidietrich  @BobReed  @Sean McGinnis Lack of thinking? I REALLY hate you

        •  @faybiz  @ginidietrich  @BobReed Writing comes more naturally to some than to others. You can sense by my deep, abiding hatred that I’m in the latter camp.

        •  @ginidietrich LOL … oh Gini, you left yourself wide open on that one! Okay, okay, you don’t need to think but the rest of us do!

        •  @Carmelo If the shoe fits… 🙂

        •  @ginidietrich lol, it’s a boot! Watch out….  😉

  • First hour of my day involves feeding animals and walking the dog, but I have a few minutes in between while waiting for Becky, so I do a quick Email and Facebook check, and also check a few blogs out (including this one, but I won’t brown nose like @katskrieger .
    When I get back from the walk, it’s coffee and digging into work.

    •  @KenMueller  So what time does your first hour of work begin? And how do you spend it?

  •  @ginidietrich , you and Mr. M keep similar hours. He’s up at dawn and in to work so that he can enjoy quiet, uninterrupted time before the rest of the world gets going. I then get to enjoy quiet uninterrupted time here where I start my day (after tripping over the pets) with coffee and reading, reviewing updates and posts, scheduling tweets and organizing my day. Sometimes it’s on to a bike ride or a walk before digging into the day itself and other times I dive in headfirst and exercise in the afternoon. Depend’s on the day’s schedule. I don’t (yet) usually start my day as early as you do…but that may be subject to change. 😉

    •  @allenmireles You’re always up on the social networks later than I am so it’s a trade-off. By 8 p.m., my brain truly no longer functions, as you’ve experienced in real life. 

  • I wake up at 5:45am, force myself to drink a glass of Gatorade (it may be a mind trick, but my run is always better), check Facebook <– I know, I tried breaking this habit but can’t.  I put on CNN, and catch the news and do 15 minutes of Facebook for both biz & friends, and then my 2.5 mile run.
    Only THEN am I human.
    I have a 5 year old, so the mad rush to get her up, fed, dressed and her hair done begins at 7am. School at 8am.  Office at 8:15, and THEN I check my email.
    I must admit that the email compulsion was only broken after reading much ranting by Danny Brown  over setting your own priorities and not allowing your inbox to do so.
    Like you, I’m fried after 6pm and can only do creative stuff – the real thinking must happen before 2pm.

    •  @AmyMccTobin  I don’t think it’s in your head…Gatorade makes those pre-workout drinks that are EXTREMELY effective. 

    •  @AmyMccTobin Then my work here is done.

  • Molli Megasko

    Great post!  I love the idea of visualizing the day, although, I think I would need help on that – not looking at individual tasks but bigger picture.  Exercise is out of the question, but I will try not to look at my email before I leave my apartment.

    •  @Molli Megasko I’ll bet all that reading you do at night (when most of us sleep) could be done during your commute. You’d become the bionic reader! I miss you.

  • My morning is a wash.  6:00 a.m. the Freshman gets up fed and pushed out the door at 6:45 (the dog gets feed in there, too).  Then it’s the seventh grader at 7:00 and she gets the boot at 7:45.  In between I check FB and email.  Workouts are now pushed to noon because I couldn’t bear starting my day at 9:30.  

    •  @BobReed I like the noon workouts. It gives you a nice break during the day. Otherwise what are you doing during the lunch hour? Working.

  • I still think you are secretly the bionic woman– that’s okay if you don’t want to include that minor detail in your first hour run down 😉
    I am really boring with my first hour– walking an 85-pound adorable mutt, feeding that mutt and its feline companion, going through my beauty process, watering the garden, and making my lunch. I do however pick up my iPhone as soon as I get into the kitchen to check messages. It’s very different not working in the PR agency world, where my mornings were much more hectic. But to your point, we can make time for what we need to do– it just takes effort, which is easier said than done! 

    •  @Krista It is easier said than done and I now have the advantage of working from home. In fact, the major reason I don’t want us to have office space again is so I can continue riding at noon!

  • janicearnoldi

    A colleague called me a cave dweller the other day but I get up, let the dogs out, pour my first cup of coffee and read the newspaper.  It’s many years of habit and I find it a relaxing way to get into my day.  I find the day can get away on me once I’m at the computer.

  • Hi Gini… I read the same article last week, and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who was obsessed by it! 🙂  I thought about it over the weekend and just started my new routine this week. Here’s what I work on before Noon…
    1. social media (schedule posts, read/comment on blogs)
    2. work on client projects
    3. answer email
    I reserve the afternoon for whatever needs further attention, and in addition, I also scheduled time two days a week to prospect and I reserved time to work on T60 marketing projects.
    I have to say, seeing it all planned out on my calendar is liberating.  It takes away the stress of “what next?”
    –Tony Gnau

    •  @T60Productions I LOVE that you’ve scheduled business development time. I’m so proud of you!

  • I spend my first hour reading the news and trends. Not major newspapers but from blogs and tweets. I scan in the course of a few minutes what people are writing and feeling — and that tells me precisely what any newspaper would tell me. If someone died overnight, people would be tweeting RIP emotions. If there was a hurricane and devastating loss, that hurricanic name would be pushed about. If someone somewhere said something prolific, people would be quoting that line.
    Today, I come across your blog post in my feed reader’s scan of reverse chronological pieces written by those bloggers who I enjoy reading. How quaint that I spent this morning’s first hour reading a blog post by you on what you do in that hour.

    •  @Ari Herzog That’s a bit ironic isn’t it? LOL!

      •  @ginidietrich Is ironic better than quaint? I guess. Sigh.

    • skullsflying

       @Ari Herzog Quaint. Ari, you kill me. 

      •  @skullsflying It suckered you into commenting so the quaintness worked, I say.

  • KevinVandever

    Breakfast with daughter, take daughter to school, hour+ commute to work (where I listen or do one, or more, of the following: music, NPR, sports talk, audio book, conference call, or personal phone call – the last two safely using the new hands-free device in my car). Once at the office, if no meeting, I start with email. Meetings usually dictate how the first hour, and beyond, at the office go.

    •  @KevinVandever You have an hour commute every day…one way?

      • KevinVandever

         @ginidietrich Yes. On average, it’s an hour each way. Maybe 70 minutes to get home. Depends on time of commute, weather conditions (even the hint of rain is a weather condition in LA), time of year, traffic accidents, construction, what’s going on in the city (for the commute home), and OJ-like police chases through the area.

        •  @KevinVandever I would die. My commute is about 15 seconds.

        • KevinVandever

           @ginidietrich I hate you!

  • KevinVandever

    Oh, and I guess I should add that I somtimes read your blog during that first hour, but usually check it out after email or during lunch.

  • yvettepistorio

    After brushing my teeth and eating breakfast, I read blogs and look for content to share on my social networks, check Facebook/Twitter/Google+ then get started on my important tasks for the day…things that must get done. I work out before lunch…gives me time to wake up and find my energy. 

    •  @yvettepistorio I can’t believe these people I work with. You all brush your teeth. 🙂 So how long do you stay in your PJs?

      • yvettepistorio

         @ginidietrich Lol! I usually try and change into my workout clothes before I sit down and start working. That doesn’t always happen though… (*ahem* still in my pj’s now, but I did start my day a little earlier than usual 😉

        •  @yvettepistorio It’s OK…I’m still in my PJs too. I’ll put my cycling clothes on in a couple of hours. Then I won’t shower until 5ish. 🙂

  • magriebler

    Thank you for getting me to think about this! I’m most productive the rest of the day when the first thing I do is yoga. During the summer I get a bit sloppy about this because the long hours of sunlight fool me into thinking I can exercise any time I want. (Ha.) But the truth is that I’m at my best when I’ve taken the time to stretch and focus and breathe before I dive into whatever the day brings.

    •  @magriebler It’s amazing how well that works, isn’t it? I used to joke that I rode my bike at 6 a.m. because I didn’t have time to think about the pain I was in. But now I enjoy riding at noon so much more. 

      • magriebler

         @ginidietrich I can’t ride my bike until I’ve had something to eat, so typically I ride after work. But yoga I can do half-awake and hungry. It’s interesting.

      • magriebler

         @ginidietrich I can’t do a more aerobic workout till I’ve had a good meal, so I tend to ride my bike later in the day. But I can do yoga hungry and half-awake … and still do it well. It’s fascinating.

        • yvettepistorio

           @magriebler  @ginidietrich That is interesting…I can’t do yoga on an empty stomach. I’ve been doing Bikram and I just started to go regularly 2 weeks ago, so maybe that’s why?! However I agree I’m at my best when I take the time to stretch, focus and breathe.

        • magriebler

           @yvettepistorio  @ginidietrich I wouldn’t be able to do Bikram on an empty stomach either. I just finished an evening yoga sculpt class that I would NOT be able to do before breakfast. I’m a limp washcloth afterwards. What I do at the crack of dawn is what you might call Hatha yoga, with a focus on stretching and the traditional poses. (All the terms confuse me, BTW.) I keep the lights low; calm music.

        • yvettepistorio

           @magriebler  @ginidietrich Lol, I think I did the same yoga sculpt class yesterday!! All the terms confuse me too!! But I’d like to try the low lights and calm music first thing in the morning…I could use it. I get a little cranky in the morning 😉

  • DarenWms

    I started with a 4.5-mile run then checked in on social media, saw your Facebook post and read your blog. I am fortunate that I have flexible office hours when I am in town so I can get in my workout, have coffee on the deck and ease my way into the day.I will get to the office around 9:00 and stay to around 6:00, unless I decide to cut out early and enjoy one of the waning days of summer. I spend over 100 days/year on the road so when I am in town I try to get home and enjoy dinner with my wife, Leslie Hazelton Williams .

    •  @DarenWms  How much running vs. riding are you doing right now?

  • I’m with @yvettepistorio on the teeth brushing. LOL. First thing’s first. The first hour for is making a nice hot cup of strong coffee and walking in the woods with my dogs. This gives me time to prioritize my day in my head. Then, I sit down and since I’m on PST (most of the time) I look at email to make sure nothing requires immediate response, but tackle projects first. 
    I’d be curious to hear from others, but if I don’t get off to a productive start, my day is usually screwed. It’s hard to get back on track. Really important to start off with the daily goals in mind. 

    • yvettepistorio

       @Lisa Gerber Oh, coffee is included in my breakfast!! Can’t function without it. And I agree, if I don’t get off to a productive start, it’s hard to get back on track. 

      •  @yvettepistorio  @Lisa Gerber I’ve borked many a day because I didn’t dive right in early. 

    •  @Lisa Gerber  Wait. You brush your teeth??

      •  @ginidietrich  @Lisa Gerber Nobody likes their teeth wearing sweaters, Gini. 

    •  @Lisa Gerber  @yvettepistorio I’m totally this way. If I don’t start out right, my day is a mess. I need to come into the day with an organized plan!

  • Keena Lykins

    On my good days, I get up, let the dog outside and then sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee and write for an hour or so. After that, I do check emails, Facebook, etc., and power up the freelance computer to get that work done. On the days that start with email or meetings or a crazed puppy that wants nothing but 100 percent of my time, I don’t see to get much of anything accomplished.

    • Keena Lykins

      I should add that I freelance and work from home, so I have more flexibility in my day that many people have. And oddly enough, after five years of fighting the Rhea+Kaiser start time (I never got there before 8:45 either, Gini, I find if I’m up early (before 7) I get a lot more done than I normally do.

      •  @Keena Lykins Yay to another full-time freelancer! 🙂 

        •  @jasonkonopinski  And she’s a multiple fiction author, too!@Keena Lykins 

      •  @Keena Lykins I guess they trained us! I used to whine and whine to Steve and he’d just shake his head at me. Oh if he could see me now.

        •  @ginidietrich  @Keena Lykins Also? Worlds colliding again. I worked on the Rhea Kaiser account briefly at Jupiterimages. 🙂 

        • Keena Lykins

          He’d keel over in shock. LOL! Above you wrote “when we had an office.” Does this mean you’ve gone virtual?

        •  @Keena Lykins We have! We went completely virtual in November to see how it goes. I said we’d give it a year. I’ve been asking my team how they feel about getting an office again and the answer is a big, fat resounding no. 

        • Keena Lykins

           @ginidietrich As long as you can find meeting space when you need it, I can’t imagine why you’d go back to brick and mortar. Not only for the financial savings in rent, but it’s greener and you probably have much happier employees.

  • My morning routine hasn’t changed much over the years – up at 5:00 for an early morning run with the Wonderpup, then I settle in for some focused writing time with some tunes and coffee. No email, no social, no blogs until I’ve written an amount (and of a quality) with which I’m satisfied.  
    Lisa and I seem to run totally opposite schedules when it comes to being super productive. I’m a perpetual early riser, she is definitely not. She does her best work (outside of normal 8 – 3 teaching hours) late in the evenings when I’m totally fried and I just want to stick my nose in a book or throw down with some Call of Duty. 🙂 

  • i spend the first hour of my day with my son. Getting him dressed, breakfast, teeth brushed, playing with his toys, etc. Jacki and Salem are still sleeping, and I cherish the time Ewan and I have together before I drop him off at daycare.
    Everything else after that is what it is.

    •  @Danny Brown And you have your priorities completely straight.

  • I used to spend the first hour taking my son to the gym starting at about 5:45 where we’d work out and play basketball. After he left for college, I began to walk and run every morning along the Carson River. That alone time really centers me. No music, no podcasts, just me, the air, the sounds of Nature, the flow of the river, the geese, the coyotes, the cotton tail bunnies, the ducks on the ponds of the adjacent golf course … 3 miles of bliss. 
    It’s amazing how this sets the mood and tone for the day. If you’re a type A person this’ll bring you down to, well, A- … you’ll never be a type B. (Nor do you want to be, right?)
    Anyway, I absolutely love it and I find that if I miss a day (like once last year i think) it doesn’t matter, the calming influence of the routine follows me like a shadow.

    •  @Carmelo When I’m grouchy, Mr. D will say, “Have you been on your bike today?” The grouchiness is always dissipated by bike riding. So I totally get it! And I LOVE that you went to the gym with your son. I’ll bet you miss that.

      •  @ginidietrich Oh, I do miss it Gini. But I have it tucked away inside me and it’s precious. And yes, that walk, that ride sends Oscar packing!

    •  @Carmelo I get it. If I don’t log a few miles under my toes every morning, the day just seems off. 

      •  @jasonkonopinski lol … and your toes thank you! 

    • magriebler

       @Carmelo I’m lucky enough to live near a bike path that runs through a forest preserve along a river. I can’t get to it every day, but I aim for at least twice a week. I really like what you say about the calming influence following you “like a a shadow.” That’s how my time riding through the woods works for me.

      •  @magriebler That’s fantastic, isn’t it? Sometimes I stop and remind myself that I’m lucky enough to live where I always dreamed of living when I was a little guy growing up. Good for you! 🙂

  • For me, the first hour is workout time.  It’s a personal choice.  I’ve consciously decided to be absolutely sure I get some sweat in and the only way I can guarantee it is by working out first thing.  Of course there is an opportunity cost. 

    •  @Frank_Strong I don’t think there is an opportunity cost. I think human beings are much more productive and efficient (and happy) when they exercise. Working out first thing prevents you from saying, “Oh I’ll work out later” and then you never get to it.

  • Your story about your old morning routine reminded me of  a similar battle. I used to work at a place where we would receive emails that would delineate who was on time and who was late down to the minute.
    It used to make me crazy that they never counted the times I didn’t take lunch, travel or when I stayed late which was often, but I probably should save that rant.
    The first hour of my day is usually spent getting the kids off to school. After that I try to put in time on the treadmill and a quick workout with the weights. Everything after that is based upon priority and need.
    Email usually comes later in the day.

    •  @thejoshuawilner And soon you’ll begin training for your first Ironman!

    • magriebler

       @thejoshuawilner I totally get that rant. It amazes me how many offices are run like kindergarten classrooms. Treat people like grownups and let their results speak for themselves.

  • dmlcomm

    My first hour: Gym, watch Elmo with my 2-year-old twin daughters, and then its email time. Living on the West coast, I have to check email first to see if there are any pressing client needs/emergencies from the East coast or Midwest being that those folks are already two-to-three hours into their workdays.

    •  @dmlcomm I love that you admit you watch Elmo! Love. I was thinking about the west coast issue the other day. Do you find you work a little later in order to do some uninterrupted work when the rest of us are going to bed?

      • dmlcomm

         @ginidietrich  @dmlcomm After watching Elmo with the twins, it’s impossible to have a bad day. As for my west coast situation, I do work a bit later to make up for the “late” start and take advantage of the no phone call or email speedbumps that occur throughout the day. Very productive part of the day.

  • I usually try to roll out of bed by 10:30 or so; turn on the TV to see what’s on Sports Center; make some coffee and get the paper off the driveway. At about 11:30 I will have a bowl of cereal because I want to be healthy and then I might get online to see who has been missing my incredible presence. About 1:00ish, I’m thinking about lunch and I might look at my Outlook to see if I have any appointments……..
    I went into the Army right out of high school and they broke my ability to sleep in a long time ago. I function much better and much more creative and alert in the early hours. 
    I don’t get up as early as you because I don’t have to; but usually set the clock for 6:00 am and head to the gym. I bring my work clothes with me and go straight to the office after the gym. I keep breakfast ‘stuff’ at my office, so I will eat there. I’m usually one of the first in so I use the quiet time to be ‘social’ unless I have other appointments or meetings. Trying to be respectful of business owners and their quiet time; I am usually not reaching out to them until about 9:00 am or later. 
    Being in sales I pretty much have total flexibility to do whatever the heck I want to do as long as at the end of the day you can hear ‘cha-ching’……..I could literally not show up at the office for a week and as long as you could reach me by phone, text or e-mail, they would not be sending out a search party. 
    Life is good; it’s still good to be Billy………morning or night……..:). 
    Man, that Dorman guy is really obnoxious, isn’t he? What a douche……….

    •  @bdorman264 Wouldn’t it be nice if your first paragraph were true? I wonder how long you’d last?

      •  @ginidietrich I’m pretty sure I would be totally worthless if that first paragraph were true……….I’m close enough as it is, it wouldn’t take much to tip me over the edge……….:). 

  • I usually have a noise machine (now first grader) roaming around during my first hour of work, he doesn’t bark but he makes cool car and jet noises so I tend to dig through and clear out my inbox and do things that can involve interruption. For me being responsive is critical, especially with software sales and small IT requests. It goes a long way with the customers. I have to remain flexible in most cases, I never know what technology might have broken down the night before. It’s a lot easier for me to focus on a task if I have my day organized and don’t have a bunch of messages sitting in my inbox. I found the track back for this while I was going through my unread (but filtered) Email, that usually takes a minute or two. I have two messages remaining in my inbox and wanted to get my comment in before I started on my 9AM scheduled work. 12 minutes to spare! Off I go 🙂

  • I am on East Coast time so I school you daily! 

    •  @jonmikelbailey Do NOT make me come and kick you in the shins!

      •  @ginidietrich All of my shoes have built in shin guards so I can freely make these sorts of comments on blog posts.

        •  @jonmikelbailey How, exactly, do your shoes have built-in shin guards. Do they come up from the shoe’s tongue?

        •  @ginidietrich I only wear knee high boots.

        •  @jonmikelbailey Ohhhh! Now I know what to get you for Christmas.

        •  @ginidietrich

        •  @jonmikelbailey OMG! I just spit Cheerios at my screen!

        •  @ginidietrich See what I am able to accomplish in the morning!

  • jennimacdonald

    I read an article on this same topic 2 day ago, they suggested that the most successful people don’t check email before 10am, so I tried it, and BOOM! I’m 10x more productive.
    Also they suggested only checking it 2x day. So I turned off the notification for when I receive a new email, so I’m not interrupted every 30 seconds, and BOOM again! 

    •  @jennimacdonald Right?!? It’s amazing how well it works, isn’t it?

      •  @ginidietrich  @jennimacdonald I REALLY need to start doing this. It works when I do it, but I just really need to train my clients better! 

  • This post made me feel so lazy.
     I’m a total night owl who can work until midnight, but can’t function before 8 am.  I have to admit, I really do watch Mike & Mike on ESPN while reading blogs when I get up and started on my day.  However, I make up for it by sending email at 11 pm at night for those people who are early risers to review and respond.  It’s the perfect system!  
    I only seem to employ night owls, too.  We’re creating a new movement!  Haha. 

    •  @HeatherTweedy And I feel lazy with your comment. I am dead to the world by 11 p.m. so I think we’re even!

  • I read that article earlier this week – loved it. I really need to break the email habit. I tend to read emails on my phone first thing in the morning. I need to stop that. Email is such an addiction (and distraction)!
    Honestly, I keep struggling with the right routine to start my day. I run a few days a week first thing in the morning. But honestly, I really like when I’ve tried writing first thing. It used to be I would always do it at night, but now, the morning is when I’m the freshest (at least after coffee) and it ensures my own writing gets done. Otherwise, it just won’t happen. It’s just hard to do writing and running both on the same day first thing in the morning – it eats up so much time!
    Once the weather gets cooler, maybe I can shift to running later in the day.  Since I played sports growing up, I always loved working out in the afternoons. It’s been hard to shift to the morning. But, I find doing it the morning ensures it gets done and prevents me from having to run in 90-degree weather! And besides, if I run later, I don’t want to shower twice in one day!

    •  @lauraclick I’ll actually shift in wintertime with my exercise. I can’t ride outside so I’ll have to go put my bike on a trainer at my coach’s facility and he’s only open until 9 a.m. So I’ll probably move my writing to later morning and ride first thing. The best thing about this is it doesn’t matter how you do it…I think as long as you have a routine that allows you to be the most productive.

      •  @ginidietrich Totally. Although you can be flexible as an entrepreneur, I feel like when I’m in a routine, so much more gets done!

  • PeterSterlacci

    Great post Gini! I really thought you would start your day on the bike! I have made it a new goal of mine NOT to touch social media until after 8:00am as I used to jump on as soon as I woke up! Now I try to jump on my bicycle by 6:00am and ride for 2 hours before I touch my work. This puts me into the right frame of mind (and it is a lot cooler riding that early with the hot, humid summers in Japan)

    •  @PeterSterlacci I used to, but I really love riding at noon when I can also get some sunshine and break up my day. It also allows me to ride later into the season because I don’t like riding when it’s dark and cold. But we don’t get as hot as you do so it works for me.

  • Very helpful article Gini – thanks for sharing the information! I too struggled to get to work on time for my teaching job – usually racing in at about 7:35 (5 – 10) minutes late – hugely stressful – actually one of the reason’s I knew that I had to work for myself. I’m not waking up at 5 AM and loving what I’m doing (have to figure out the going to bed early though). My plan is to work on my blog first, but I always end up getting lost in email, etc. NO MORE! BUT HOW DO YOU WRITE A BLOG IN 1 HOUR?

    • I got to excited and didn’t read my message : ) Should read NOW get up at 5 am.

    • I didn’t realize writing a blog post in less than an hour was such a big deal. LOL! I don’t know…I just do. Most of it is already outlined in my head by the time I sit down to write. Maybe that’s why?

      •  @ginidietrich I hate you.

        • KevinVandever

           @Sean McGinnis  @ginidietrich  Sean and I both said this to you. You should take serious note.

        •  @KevinVandever  @Sean McGinnis That you both hate me? 

  • I work by myself for the most part. I found it easier to get motivated when I worked in a fairly dynamic agency environment with wonderful, talented people I admire. So to kick myself in the but, I start with building a few lists: Projects, People and Priorities. It’s not as good as having a lot of hard-working folks around… but it’s better than complete disorganization. 🙂 
    And I also want to know: How do you blog in an hour? Damn, that must have taken a lot of practice!

    •  @barrettrossie LOL! That’s the big question from this blog post. I don’t know how I do it. I’m a fast typist?

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  • Stanford

    When I worked for The Man I couldn’t pull my butt out of bed before 8:45 AM.  Since I struck out on my own, I pop up ready to fight at 6:30AM.   Some days I start cruising for post ideas at 5:30AM on the iPad. 
    Now my routine can be summed up as “write”, “insight”, and “delight”.  Write content – posts, guest posts, ebooks, etc.  Insight review the numbers (clients and my own) looking for things I can change, do better, or create.  Delight equals getting great information into the hands of my readers and clients.  That’s when I tweet, send along articles, or offer something extra for my clients.
    It’s working so far.

  • annmariastat

    I am not and have never been a morning person.I own the majority of the company and I STILL seldom get up before 10 am. Nor do I go to bed before 2 am and I really try to discipline myself to stop working by 11 pm, but often I don’t. I am worthless first thing in the morning so checking my email and other tasks that take half my brain are exactly what I do. The most important stuff I start on when I am awake, by 11 am or so and 2 cups of coffee.

    •  @annmariastat I love how different everyone is. I would DIE if I were still working at 11 p.m….and certainly not until 2 a.m.

  • GMLS

    Stuck in the 4th Dimension. 
    Quite sad that some of us have become so rigidly “digitized” in our ways. …. 12:245 tweet, 3:25 fbook, 4:15 linkedin, 7:28 email. 
    We need to get out there in the real world, share a coffee and a laugh with people who can inspire us – there is no other way of being Social. Your digital side is a “blurry, self serving, B grade autobio pic” version of who you are – it is not actually “WHO YOU ARE”.
    People still judge a book by its cover. If they don’t interact with you in real life, they will make their mind up on who you are by the quality of your typing skills or perhaps your ability to construct sentences of less than 140 characters… 
    …. just like you are doing this minute – making a decision on the type of person I am. 
    Well, I am …. just like you – stuck in the 4th dimension, the digital one. But I’m fighting to get out. 
    Share a coffee, anyone?

    •  @GMLS I prefer a latte…let’s do it!

      • GMLS

         @ginidietrich  @GMLS Your place or mine? Hint: I am guessing you don’t live in Western Australia?

    • Keena Lykins

       @GMLS Sure, if you’re not close, though, we might have to do it through Skype.

      • GMLS

         @Keena Lykins  @GMLS  Yes I guess we could share a coffee that way – I know my local barista has WiFi 🙂 

    • RobotEmbryo

       @GMLS Rhea & Kaiser? No Kidding! I used to drop in there once a week or so for deliveries; my dad owned a restaurant in Iroquois Center for about 15 years. When did you leave Naperthrill?

  • tanyagm

    Since I preach living an active lifestyle – no matter WHAT you do or who you are – I usually do a quick glance for “must attend to” emails at 5:30 am and then get a training or outdoor play session in; on the trainer (bicycle), in the pool, the gym or a run.
    If that doesn’t happen early, I find myself getting antsy the rest of the day as I power through my biggest “to do’s” — by noon, if i have 2 training sessions for the day, I’m starting to worry about how i’ll fit them in.
    I’m also pretty worthless in the evening, but without my outdoor or training play sessions, I feel less creative, less powerful and less confident. The outdoor play time not only stokes my business’s fire (I tend to keep a small notebad for bike rides and swim sessions so I can write my ideas down), but keeps me smack in the middle of my target audience; smart, creative and healthy folks who are finding time to play outside even as they run busy professional/personal lives.
    And i’m always coming away with THEIR ideas on how my business can better serve them.

    •  @tanyagm I’m also huge on an active lifestyle, but I have discovered (just this year) I’m much more creative before noon. So I stopped riding very first thing in order to write and do some hard thinking for clients. Now I go out at lunchtime and it’s glorious! I haven’t been this happy (or tan) for a very long time.

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