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Gini Dietrich

How Successful People Spend the First Hour of their Day

By: Gini Dietrich | August 29, 2012 | 
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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, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

149 comments
tanyagm
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.

 

Tanya

GMLS
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?

annmariastat
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.

Stanford
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.

 

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

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!

Brent@Echelonseo.com
Brent@Echelonseo.com

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?

PeterSterlacci
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)

lauraclick
lauraclick

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!

 

HeatherTweedy
HeatherTweedy

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. 

jennimacdonald
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! 

jonmikelbailey
jonmikelbailey

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

hackmanj
hackmanj

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 :)

Latest blog post:

bdorman264
bdorman264

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..........

dmlcomm
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.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

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.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @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.

Latest blog post: #FollowFriday: Barrett Rossie

RobotEmbryo
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?

Keena Lykins
Keena Lykins

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

Brent@Echelonseo.com
Brent@Echelonseo.com

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

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @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.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @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.

magriebler
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.

GMLS
GMLS

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

GMLS
GMLS

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

lauraclick
lauraclick

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

jonmikelbailey
jonmikelbailey

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

bdorman264
bdorman264

 @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..........:). 

dmlcomm
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.

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