The First 60 Minutes Really Matter

I’ve been playing around with a morning routine, or ritual, for a few weeks now.


Well, I know of some people who swear by their morning routine. So I thought I’d give it a go. Plus, I know from observing myself that when I’ve had some form of routine in the morning that kick-starts me and focuses me it can help to avoid the admittedly infrequent occasions when I don’t really get started and I end up having one of those unproductive, frustrating days that drive me nuts.

So, a wee while ago I put together my first proper morning routine. It looks like this –

1. Get Up – good start.

Set the alarm and allow myself one press of the “snooze” button. When it goes off a second time I get up. That’s 18 minutes snoozing.

2. Drink – loads.

Descend stairs and drink a large glass of water while the kettle boils. Make coffee.

3. Exercise – so early!

Do 30 minutes of stretching and weights whilst listening to Mahler in my 37th attempt to get into classical music.

4. Plan The Day – it’s not the plan that matters, it’s the planning (General MacArthur).

Most of what I need to do is already in the diary: client facing time; high-payoff activities. But I just make sure I am absolutely clear what else I must do before the working day is over.

5. Eat – full English!

You must be joking. I’m talking protein shake. I love eating but this is not part of the love. It is a system reboot. Just do it.

6. Get presentable – you may get run over.

Shower/dress etc.

That’s it. Fifty to sixty minutes all in.

It covers the bases –

  • Physical – exercise is great and eating is good.
  • Mental – planning the day is good for the psyche.
  • Emotional – the major emotional component is also the exercise. I cannot tell you how relieved I am after doing thirty reps of the trunk twist while lying on my back with my knees in the air, clutching a 6kg medicine ball between the aforementioned knees. I have dropped the ball once. That will not happen again. Plus, with the exercise I’m wired on endorphins (and Guatemalan coffee).

Keeping to the routine was a bit hard for the first two weeks. As always, I overdid it and tried to stick to it for 7 days/week. Now it’s 5 days/week – the working days. I do get up earlier so that I can have it done by 8/830-ish. Now it’s been about three weeks and it is still a wee bit hard but getting easier.

I am aware that it takes about twenty to thirty days to establish a habit but once you have the habit things get easier. You make your habits and then your habits make you. (Many people claim to have coined this phrase but the first guy was my main man Aristotle).

So, has this been worthwhile?

A resounding “yes!” to that:

I think the key is the exercise. It stretches my muscles and kick-starts my system. And equally importantly, exercise also touches me emotionally – it just lifts me. It makes me happy. Endorphins. So the exercise is a big, big plus.

Eating is also good. I have never, ever felt hungry in the morning so the great temptation is to skip breakfast. But when I actually eat breakfast (especially a protein shake) it’s like a massive switch inside me has been slammed into the ON position.

And finally, despite invariably having my day filled with high-payoff activities, it is good just to spend ten minutes really, really defining what tasks I must do today and I will not stop until they are done. Never start the day until you have finished the day on paper (as Jim Rohn said. Aristotle would have liked Jim).

I still resist the discipline of the morning ritual but I am beginning to love it and it has huge benefits.

I guess I’m about twenty days in now. It takes thirty days to make a habit. So if I persevere for another ten days or so my morning routine will become a habit that I will have made and then I can allow the habit to make me…

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One Response to The First 60 Minutes Really Matter

  1. Anthony Madume June 13, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Hi Mark,

    Nice to catch-up on this article as I almost missed it. I honestly go the gist and it can be benefitial for those who like a bit of exercise. You see, exercise is not every body’s cup of tea.

    Infact, I like exercise(s) now and again. I have always been a sport person/man and did lots of it in my Grammar School and represented my School and State in Nigeria. So, love to engage in some exercise when I can. may I stress that I have sometimes struggled because of busy, busy and procrastination. Interestingly, last Saturday, I got up early like Mark suggested, put my strack suite on and hit the road. To my surprise, I covered some good distance without too tired. I wish to keep this routine, perhaps prepare myself for the Liverpool – Men’s 5K. Who knows, I may just win the sheild or medal. I know that to achieve this goal – I must keepmup a routine of – practice, practice and practice and also watch my food. At least, I am taking action, acionand action to get to my goal.This same mindset will be helpful for my business targets and goals.

    Speak to you soon, Mark.


    Anthony Madume
    Founder / Chairman – ABFM

    Tel: 07505132850

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