The first 90 minutes of your day are crucial to everything that happens thereafter.
If you don’t produce something special during those first 90 minutes, chances are, your whole day will falter.
Here’s how you maximize those first 90 minutes of your day:
Make A “Cognitive Commitment” That You Will Produce A Result
You need to make a commitment to yourself that you will produce a result.
As a writer, the result for me is generally around publishing an article or getting some writing done.
What is the result that matters to you?
What would move you the direction you want to go?
Here are the keys to ensure you’ll produce a powerful result:
- You need to make success CONVENIENT… meaning it’s your default option. You do that by setting things up the night before. For example, if you lay your clothes out the night before — the choice of what you’ll wear has already been made. Similarly, if you write down your morning goals, in past tense as though they’ve already been completed, you’ll be far more likely to do it. You’ll have already mentally committed — so the choice has already been made.
- You need a ritual that generates epiphanies and motivation
- You need a timeline
- You need an environment that facilitates breakthroughs
- You need a WHY that moves you forward
- You need to be willing to fail over and over again
- You can’t obsess about the outcome of each single day — but instead, focus on the holistic process and effect of multiple solid days and attempts together.
Regarding the last point just above, business professor and religious leader, David Bednar makes an important analogy. Here’s what he says:
In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes — none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive.
In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field.
Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Don’t focus on the results of a single day. Instead, focus on the big picture. However, it is through each individual brush stroke that a picture becomes beautiful. Similarly, the commitment to produce a result every single day is the key to creating a beautiful life.
If you produce a result during the first 90 minutes of your day, every single day, your life will look VERY VERY different from the lives of most people. Moreover — your ENTIRE day will look different, because you’ll have put first things first. You’ll have created a result — which produces confidence and clarity. Thus, the rest of your day will also be better because you’ll have set the tone for winning and congruence.
Most people’s mornings are far from optimal.
Very few people make tangible progress toward their dreams on a daily basis.
Develop A Ritual For Getting Into A Heightened State
There is some really cool research about how to develop your “epiphany ability.” The ability to generate epiphanies is something you can absolutely master in your life.
The scientific definition of an epiphany consistes of 3 crucial elements:
- abandoning the old ineffective thoughts (i.e. breaking mental fixation);
- formulating the new and effective thoughts (forming the new novel association)
- experiencing the intense thrilling feeling of “Aha”
During your first 90 minutes, your job is to get an epiphany and to then do something about that epiphany. We live in an age where creativity — or the ability to generate new insights and connections — is the #1 asset and skill. It’s not about the time and effort your put into your work, but rather, about your ability to think and produce better and differently than others that sets you apart.
If you can create epiphanies on a daily basis, and produce an output every single day, you will quickly become a master of your craft.
Eventually, your work will become known to the general public. Eventually, you’ll become so good at what you do that your work and your talents will not be able to be ignored.
Thus, you need to:
- develop an expectation and commitment that you’ll get epiphanies on a daily basis
- create an environment where epiphanies can happen
- live in “the results economy” — meaning that you MUST get a result because your livelihood depends on it. In other words, you need to get paid based on your performance. Your daily behavior needs to matter. If it doesn’t matter, your survival instincts won’t kick-in and you’ll have mental apathy, which will make getting epiphanies and doing the deep creative work difficult.
To enhance your epiphany ability, the following strategies are very helpful:
- Don’t eat food during the first 90 minutes of your day — being in a fasted state is important for high cognitive and creative functioning
- Don’t pull out your smart phone and check email or social media — focus on outputs rather than inputs
- Spend time deeply imagining your dreams and future
- Fitness and cold showering can produce creative and joyful brain chemicals
- Writing in your journal or on a whiteboard in the form of bullet-points and pictures to connect ideas in new and interesting ways (After Thomas Edison’s death, over 3,500 filled journals of his were found, detailing his ideas, thoughts, and inventions)
- Being extremely open and mindful of the thoughts that enter your mind
- Reading or listening to very high level content — spiritual, motivational, intellectual… but being somewhat distant from that content. You don’t want to overly fixate or your mind wont be able to wander enough to create the epiphany
- Don’t force the idea to come
- Let it come
- As soon as the initial nugget comes, jump on the idea and see where it takes you
- Your commitment to acting upon the epiphany is crucial
- Once you get it, follow it
- The idea AFTER the idea is where much of the beauty comes
- Get good at connecting ideas and building frameworks — this will take lots of study, thinking, and practice
- The better you get at connecting things, the more likely you will be to get epiphanies
How you spend the first 90 minutes of your day will determine your success in life.
Each individual day shouldn’t be viewed in isolation — but instead, like the brush strokes of a beautiful painting — when they are all brought together in view — a beautiful life will appear.
It is your job during the first 90 minutes of your day to produce a result. You can become a creative master.
You can become world-class at what you do.
But you must be willing to fail on a daily-basis.
You must be committed to thinking deeply, to creating, to producing, and to putting something tangible into the world regularly. You miss every shot you don’t take. And every failure you produce is only taking you one step closer to your best work.
Focusing on results AND process is key. However, Being RESULTS-oriented should be your priority. When results are required, because your livelihood depends on it, then you will figure out and develop an optimized process.
Focusing on process over result is putting the cart before the horse. It’s an obsession with something that may not actually be moving you the right direction. Only practitioners — those with “skin in the game” who are focused on results — generate the processes that are simple enough to actually work.
When the WHY is strong enough, you’ll figure out how. You must then make a cognitive commitment and create the expectation — both internal and external — that you will produce a result.