The Cure for the Non-Morning Person: Quiet Times

Bad Night (Mala Noche)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Peter Smile

Mornings used to be one of the low points of my day. Long story short: I’m not a very graceful person in the morning. A friend of mine has a saying that I’ll adapt: I don’t even believe in God until around 10 am.

In college I used to wake up and drag myself down to the dorm’s diner, and every morning the lunch lady would take one look at me, and without saying a word would start chuckling to herself. Without a word! This should give you a little bit of a hint as to what mornings are like for me. Picture a bear coming out of hibernation. Hungover.

Now, things are different. I no longer stumble about in the morning, taking a few hours to really wake up. I start every day with a little bit of quiet time. This time is reserved for reading, meditating, and just focusing on what I have to do that day. This time is absolutely mission-critical for the rest of my day, and without it I feel completely worthless. Here’s why:

1. I get up easier. Ever since I’ve starting morning quiet times, I’ve been able to get up refreshed, without hitting the snooze, and ready to start the day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This is directly because my day doesn’t start with the grind. It starts with the knowledge that I have around an hour of my day dedicated to Me. That can change anyone’s perspective in the morning.

2. Less stress, relaxed to the max. My morning routine of meditation and reading is just what the doctor ordered for curing stress. Sometimes I’ll go on a run, incorporate stretching and breathing exercises for maximum stress-relieving activities. It’s virtually impossible to start the day stressed out with a routine like that!

3. A clear mind.
Meditation really helps the mind sweep itself of its own clutter. I’ve found that while I’m thinking about the day, I usually have lots of great ideas and remember little things to do throughout the day. I’ve since started having my moleskine handy to capture everything that’s running through my mind in the mornings. You’ll find that this is a great way for your mind to process the day and make sense of what needs to be done.

4. Now you can really get stuff done. Because your mind has been primed for the rest of the day by thinking about what has to be done, you’re in a perfect position to be uber productive. It’s easy to follow productivity systems like GTD when your brain has worked out the details of the day.

5. I’m a happier person. Who wouldn’t have a better attitude when you’re starting the day on top of your game? I’m a much better person to be around in the mornings, that’s for sure.

While there are many other reasons why I’ve found that morning quiet times have improved my day, these are a few of the main ones.

In order for the morning quiet time to happen, there has to be two constants:

  1. It has to be FIRST thing in the morning
  2. It has to be uninterrupted

This can be difficult for people who have children and other activities in the morning. But in order to make sure it absolutely happens every day,  it has to be the fist things in the morning. Odds are you’ll have to start your day earlier in order to squeeze this in to our busy lives. However, once you make the change, you’ll never go back.

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Sheamus May 28, 2008, 7:26 pm

    Excellent advice! I'm a real grumpy old bear in the morning and, despite three young children and a wife who has to get up very early for work, I'm quite keen to give this a go. At least I'll have an hour of 'me' time, even if it's just vegging out, which is quite different to having to get up for others (which I do now).


  • Sheamus May 28, 2008, 3:26 pm

    Excellent advice! I'm a real grumpy old bear in the morning and, despite three young children and a wife who has to get up very early for work, I'm quite keen to give this a go. At least I'll have an hour of 'me' time, even if it's just vegging out, which is quite different to having to get up for others (which I do now).


  • Randy May 27, 2008, 12:16 pm

    You didn't mention anything regarding spirituality. I have a quiet time everyday basically the same thing you said but also involving prayer, scripture memorization, bible study…
    Perhaps you neglected the point because you felt like you'd be isolating people by mentioning religion however meditation is such a basic tenant of most religions I'd think it is worth mentioning at least.

    • Glen Stansberry May 27, 2008, 12:32 pm

      Hi Randy,

      Actually, that's exactly what I mean. Those are what my quiet times involve as well. But you're right.. some people will use them for different things.

      • Clara May 27, 2008, 6:14 pm

        You know, it's really odd, but i feel like I got more done over Memorial Day weekend than I normally would in a regular week. There's definitely something to be said about taking some selfish time for yourself so that you don't feel pressured to do anything.

  • Ron Davis May 20, 2008, 6:46 am

    A question – I recently started waking up about an hour and a half earlier to go to the gym. It's been great for me, because working out so early makes me feel great for the entire day, and since it's important for me to workout every day, I can get it out of the way first thing in the morning and not worry about it when I get home tired from work in the evening.

    I read your post and really wanted some quiet time like you described – but now I will have to wake up another hour earlier, at 5AM instead of 6AM. What do you think? Is the gym a substitute for this sort of hour or should I try to fit in both?

  • Farfield May 20, 2008, 6:45 am

    I'm definitely such a non-morning person. It's a bit like a love/hate relationship though. Often I don't like to wake up and I really don't get a lot done before noon. The evening is my most productive time of the day. But when I do get up early and have some time, I really enjoy it. It even smells different outside, the air is still fresh from the night.

    It might definitely be a good idea to just implement this in my daily routine. It would probably give me a better focus throughout the day. The main problem for me is the fact I go to sleep quite late. And then at night I don't feel like setting my alarm clock early because I want to get a good amount of sleeping hours. But I think I should just try.

  • Andre Kibbe May 17, 2008, 3:10 pm

    Having a specific place, as well as a time, for the morning routine is a great help. I do freelance writing in a cafe, but I used to run into trouble when transitioning between my morning route (mind sweep, reviewing action lists, checking RSS) and work mode (freelance writing). Then I decided to confine my morning routine at home, but as soon as a sit down at the cafe to work, all the preparation is already behind me.

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  • Michael May 17, 2008, 12:25 pm

    I love getting things done in the morning because then I can take the afternoon or evening off. Getting a little relaxation in first thing is definitely a good idea as well.