Get More Done Before 9 AM
The first hours of the day have the most potential.
Regardless of what shift we work or what hour we start, we can’t afford to wander through the first fleeting minutes after we first wake without being intentional!
What do you do on a typical day before 9 am?
There is a saying in the Army, “We get more done before 9 am then most people do all day.”? It’s true. They do. Growing up as an Army Brat and living most of my childhood on post in military housing, I woke many mornings to the echo of cadence outside my window, long before the sounding of reveille at 0800 hours, as hundreds of soldiers ran PT.
A soldier’s motivation, discipline, focus, strength, and sense of mission is an inspirational example for us. The LORD even uses military references in scripture to motivate us.
Did you know? We are called to be "good soldiers of Jesus Christ". (2 Timothy 2:4) We have an enemy. We have weapons that we need to be familiar with, and we have armor that we need to put on in the morning before we head out into battle. (Ephesians 6) Girlfriend, when you accepted Jesus as your Savior, you enlisted in the Army of the LORD.
God has given each of us a mission, and since our tour of duty on earth is brief, we must be all the more intentional with what do with each day.
How we start the day is especially critical!
all through your morning routine
Through prayer we can accomplish more in a few minutes than most people accomplish all day.
GIVE HIM YOUR DAY! Be intentional to let your first waking thought be a prayer of surrender and absolute submission to Him, the Sovereign Omnipotent King of the Universe! Your life is a gift. If you belong to Him, YOU are HIS; so it should be obvious that this day is not really “your day” anyway.
GIVE HIM YOUR CALENDAR! God can accomplish more with one little word than all that you could accomplish in a full day outside His will in your own strength. Why attempt to go it alone? — You could not make a wiser investment with your limited time than, as Philippians 4 says, “presenting your requests to God, with thanksgiving”. More will be accomplish through 15 minutes of petition for guidance thorough and blessing over your schedule, goals, and the divine interruptions in the day ahead than .
I can think of few things more "productive" than intercession. This is even easier to do with the encouragement and accountability of a brother or sister in Christ. -- Consider praying with your husband before he leaves in the morning or on the phone while he commutes to work, with your children at the start of the school day, or with a dear friend, relative, or neighbor either in person or on the phone.
With a strategy centered around prayer and teaming up with the LORD, I find He miraculously blesses my life and multiplies my efforts, making me more effective, more productive, and more peaceful. (PTL!!!)
Evaluate Your Morning Routine
Whether it is a ridged posted schedule or just what happens by default, we all have a morning routine. We are creatures of habit, and the more we do what we do, whether efficient or unproductive, the less we tend to think about what we’re doing.
If you’re feeling unproductive, it’s time to evaluate, and if it has been a while since you’ve considered how efficient your activities are, today is the best day for reflection.
Efficient - achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. Intent - resolve, showing eager and earnest attention; a purpose, goal, target
To be efficient, we must be intentional!
A great morning routine is one that sends us out energized and optimistic. A poor morning routine feels about as cheery as an old truck stuck driving in a well worn rut. The path you drive every single day will lead you somewhere, but if the LORD isn’t the One inspiring the route, it’s time for a detour.
Our routine, aka our habits, are eternally significant; because they are our LIFE!
Life is a precious gift, and out time is limited!
How would you describe your morning?
Does it inspire creativity? Does it send you off to work feeling peaceful, steady, focused, equipped, and mentally prepared?
If it is, I hope the suggestions below help you to fine-tune your well ordered plan. But, if it feels hectic or unproductive, then maybe the best thing you can do this month is to RE-START YOUR DAYS INTENTIONALLY.
Since our morning routine sets the tone of our day, let’s take the opportunity we have this month of L.E.A.P.ing intentionally to evaluate and make a few changes.
How I “RE-START” (evaluate and plan out) my morning schedule…
Make a list –
I use the Army’s boast, to “get more done before 9am…”, as my own personal challenge. I begin by brainstorming a list of everything I would like to do in the morning before 0900 hours. I list anything and everything that comes to mind!
Mark your list –
Then, I mark each item as “must do” (I marked mine red), “should do” (yellow), and “would like to do” (blue).
- Red items tend to get done because they really must be done. I only mark the most critical or important in red (things that would alter my health or could hurt someone else that is depending on me).
- Blue items are mostly things that I hardly have to write down because I enjoy them. They are important to list because sometimes in the pressures of a busy morning, they can get set aside because they aren’t “must do” items. But, they still need to be a noted priority because these bring me so much pleasure!
- I find the YELLOW items to require the most discipline, but they also make me feel the most productive. These are often things I’d rather postpone, but they bring such great rewards!
(When I work through my routine in the morning, I obvious make red items the top priority, but I compete with myself to see how many of the other items I can do before 9:00.)
Then, I write an approximate amount of time each item should take.
Divide morning tasks sequentially –
Next, I sort all the items into sequential categories. I don’t concern myself with putting everything in chronological order yet, but rather in broad groupings of early morning, mid-morning, and late-morning.
To give you an idea, here are my groups:
- before getting out of bed – I want to clarify that I do get up to use the bathroom, take medicine, fill my water bottle, and bush away my morning breath, but then I quickly jump right back in bed to snuggle up with the LORD with my Bible and prayer notebook. (If you want to hit snooze on your alarm several times, make sure you write that in your morning routine wish-list, too.)
- before starting school – This is the bulk of my morning which includes exercise, shower, getting dresses, and breakfast.
- at the start of the school day – This is a whole new start to my day and has it’s own mini-morning routine.
[FYI: 9:00 is “zero hour” in our house. Anything the kids get done before this puts them ahead, but without exception, at 9:00 everyone is at the dining room table ready to pray and start Bible. There have been seasons when some of my kids will have 3 hours of independent school completed before school has “started”. (BTW – This is NOT currently one of those seasons!) If we “start” early, it’s such a boost to consider ourselves “ahead”. It gives me a psychological edge to not feel rushed or “behind “all day! And, you can build this into your day, too. Sometimes it is just a matter of renaming or redefining goals and deadlines.]
Make the groupings your own to fit your lifestyle/career and time constraints. Yours could be under titles like: before the kids wake/after the baby is nursed and down for a nap, before the kids catch the bus/after the kids leave for school, or before leaving the house/during the commute/first thing at the office, etc.)
Arrange Your Ideal Routine
Finally, I arranged all the listed events in each category in an “ideal” order for my routine, just the tasks with no thought to the time need, as if time were no limitation.
Though I’m writing out one routine, I’m mental making two: the ideal routine and the absolute minimum (RED items only; a running late / how late can I sleep in / worst-case scenario).
First I determine what is the absolute latest I can get up and still complete what I absolutely must do and still be able to meet my scheduled “launch time” of 9:00.
Then, starting with the “ideal” end in mind, picturing how I want to feel and what I want to have done, I work my way backwards from my 9:00-launch-time to determine what time I would need to “GET-UP” (and WAKE-UP) to do everything on my list.
In the mornings, regardless of what time I wake up, I tell myself that all I have to get done are the RED items in my routine. Then, I feel free choose from the other items on my list based upon the amount of time I actually have.
With only a couple “must do” item, I know in the back of my mind on any given day, I can do all my must do items in just a few minutes; so even if I wake up late or choose to sleep in, I’m not late, rushed, or feeling stressed. I simply make the choice to only do the things that “must” be done that morning.
I love this flexibility. I enjoy getting up earlier because I sincerely look forward to doing the things I love (those BLUE items). It’s becoming my favorite part of the day!
Without setting an alarm, I am waking-up hours before my launch time excited about starting the day. I feel ahead rather than behind because most everything on my list is a reward filled possibility. And, I have so many wonderful options to choose from. (Call it “mind games”, but it works for me. And, I get so much done this way!)
Here are a few things you might consider as you start a list of your own:
- listen to a favorite worship playlist (or station on Pandora) thinking of it as the soundtrack to your morning
- play a message from OnePlace.com (while getting ready or as you exercise)
- think positive thoughts, write one thing to be thankful or are especially looking forward to at the top of your calendar or journal (you could end the day in the same way, writing one thing you enjoyed or were thankful for this day)
- be still, relax, enjoy the quiet, before the kids wake
- fill water bottle and start drinking water for the day (eight 8oz. glasses)
- look at calendar and write a specific “to do” list of 3 to 5 items for the day
- pray (pray when you wake, pray in the shower, pray as you dress, pray continually!!!)
I can’t emphasize enough how much potential energy and productivity depends in how you start your day. I am praying that if you Seek the LORD specifically about how He would have you start your mornings, that He would guide you specifically, change your life with practical new ideas, fill you with motivation, and give you encouraging success to help you move forward and not lose momentum.
May the LORD help you see possibilities rather than obstacles, know what is best, and give you everything you need to pursue and fulfill His will for this day!