The Hopeful Hours

June 08, 2012

Last week I got the chance to read Laura Vanderkam’s upcoming ebook (out June 12) What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Vanderkam is the author of 168 Hours (which I briefly discussed here), and All the Money in the World

The title intrigued me—even though I wouldn’t exactly call myself a morning person, I do like to get up before everyone else so I can have some quiet and uninterrupted time alone. This is especially important to me because my husband and I share an office. Now that summer vacation is upon us and I don’t have to wake up so early to make sure my son gets off to school, I still plan to get up before everyone else so that my priorities don’t get lost in the daily shuffle.

And, according to Vanderkam, that’s why those pre-breakfast morning hours are so important to successful people: “[They] have priorities in their lives and early morning is the time they have the most control over their schedules.”

In this short, readable guide, Vanderkam draws on scientific research as well as anecdotes to illustrate how successful people use those crucial morning hours to nurture their careers, their relationships and themselves, and gives suggestions to help you make over your own mornings.

“The most successful people know that the hopeful hours before most people eat breakfast are far too precious to be blown on semiconscious activities,” writes Vanderkam. This makes sense to me. I know if I get my most important or most difficult task done early (or at least started), I’m in a much better frame of mind when the inevitable distractions and less-than-important-but-still-urgent tasks take over. If, on the other hand, I spend the hour before breakfast playing Mahjong Titans on my computer or reading random emails, I can easily find myself at 3 p.m. wondering where the day has gone and what I have to show for it.

I especially appreciated Vanderkam’s parallel between saving money and time use: “If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen.”

As Vanderkam notes, every morning feels like a new chance to get things right. Starting off the day with success—accomplishing something meaningful to you, no matter how small—can only help the rest of the day to feel successful, too. She concludes, “When you make over your mornings, you can make over your life. That is what the most successful people know.”

What is your morning routine? How does it help you have a successful and productive day?

Note: For more discussion of morning routines and how to tweak your own, please see Also, I received no compensation for this review (other than an advance copy of the ebook) and the opinions are my own.

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  1. Interesting Kathy. I am most definitely NOT a morning person, at least not early morning. But I do find that on days when I start doing something that I consider worthwhile right after breakfast, I accomplish a lot more and feel better about everything than on the days that I sit down at the computer and end up staying there for awhile - maybe until lunch!

  2. Me too! Unfortunately, today was one of those days that I noodled around doing nothing in particular and it's 11:40 already.