Do you have big plans but slow progress? Using your mornings wisely can change everything.
Why are mornings so important?
1 – We Have a Limited Amount of Willpower Per Day
Willpower is the ability to override limbic impulses. These are strong feelings that implore you to act out on certain habits. One of these habits might be to check your Facebook. Another habit is to turn on Netflix and watch (just) another episode.
Cognitive science has shown us that we only have a small, limited amount of willpower every day. How, when and if you use this willpower is ultimately the deciding factor for how your life turns out.
2 – Willpower Deteriorates Throughout the Day
Every little thing we “have to do” takes a sip from our small well of willpower. Getting to work, finding a parking space, doing the dishes and telling your boss about that stain on his pants that you hope is only coffee drains your well.
When you come back home, the only willpower left is what you can get by lowering a small cup into your willpower-well. It’s usually enough to get up from the sofa to get the remote control – for most people it’s not enough to resist the temptation to watch TV. It’s enough to get to bed – But only after you’ve procrastinated for 3 hours.
It’s not enough to sit down and write 500 words on your book project. It’s not enough to change the world. If it is, you’ve got a big frickin’ well.
3 – Your Well Grows When You Use Large Bucket Loads of Willpower
Every time you sit down for something that takes huge amounts of willpower you grow in confidence – You know that willpower is something that you can tap into. Both certainty and confidence grows your well. Over time you can grow your well to an enormous size. The flip side of this is that when you don’t use it you lose it. If you open Facebook every time you feel like it, it will become more and more difficult to resist it.
4 – You take a Step Toward Making That Big Task a Habit
When you take steps forward with your most important projects, neural pathways are bathed in fatty coating, which makes them easier pathways for electricity to flow through. You need less willpower to start it.
Every morning you lower that bucket into your well and do that important task, that fatty coating further insulates your neural pathway. One morning you wake up and it is a habit – electric signals flow the easiest through this particular neural pathway.
5 – There Is Less Clutter in Your Mind
Stuff happen during the day. People say inconsiderate things. You start playing through imaginary conversations. You’re angry for something that someone might do. This not only drains you from willpower, but it hinders your brain from performing at its peak. In the morning your brain has had the time to process all the information from the previous day by making insane dreams. You wake up with near clean slates and an open receptive mind.
6 – Your Willpower Is Replenished in the Morning
Sleep is the only thing that can fully replenish your well of willpower – Easy as that. You can of course use drugs to artificially enhance the capacity of your well. This is like diverting a river or a stream to flow into your well for a little while – It gives you seemingly endless willpower, but it fills your well with clutter. It takes a few days or weeks to clean up your well and restore it to full capacity.
Food temporarily restores a small part of your well’s capacity. Using willpower strains your nervous system and depletes large amounts of energy.
7 – You Begin Your Day With Enough Willpower for 3 Major Tasks
If you start your mornings with doing something important right away, you leave the possibility of doing two more big and important tasks. If you procrastinate your willpower starts leaking out – You’re only able to do two big tasks; then one; then none.
8 – Mornings are Relatively Uniform
There’s usually not that big of a variation in how your mornings transpire. You can make a morning routine and be relatively certain that nothing is going to stand in your way. Evenings, on the other hand, are unpredictable. You could resolve to get something done between 6pm and 7pm, but you can bet on your coffee machine to catch fire or that all the fiber you ate at lunch will be kicking in.
9 – Doing Important Tasks First Primes Your Brain for Success
Your brain works on what you’ve just fed it. If you feed it effort, motivation, inspiration, and the ability to complete tasks, it will give you more of it. Doing creative and important tasks leads to large releases of neurotransmitters. They elevate your mood, make you more confident, increase your skill levels and makes life more awesome in general. Would you want this for the rest of the day or for 10-11pm?
Get up early. Getting up early is the way to get important things done – Unless you’re some kind of superhuman being. Us mortal beings don’t want to hear about your superhuman abilities. They make us feel even more mortal.
I am a notorious late sleeper. I need 9 hours of sleep to be able to open more than one eye at the time when I wake up. If I can do this, you can do this.