7 Things You Can Get Done before Breakfast

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A dinner with one of our regular readers, businessman Peter Sebesta.

“I’ll have something small. I usually don’t eat after 3 pm,” said Sebesta, a man of perfect figure, surprising a lady sitting at the table next to us with this statement. “Did you hear that? What’s wrong with him? You’re supposed to have your last meal only four hours before you go to sleep… Or maybe…he already goes to bed at…?”, and she tried to figure how the numbers could make sense.

We soon finished eating and our arms almost collided over the table—we both checked our watch at the same time. As if we were on the same schedule.

We smiled. Both of us got up before 5 am. Just as any other day.

On 30 December 2004 I had a meeting planned with a person named Daniel. “Peter, could you meet me first thing in the morning—at 8.30? At Tonino Lamborghini, they make delicious eggs there!”

I’m there. As late as 9.10 I hear the squealing brakes of Daniel’s Maserati parking under the window. The lawyer is out of breath when he apologises to me. “I’m sorry Peter, I couldn’t make it. I have a very poor sense of timing.”

He couldn’t make it? How can you not make the first thing on your agenda. I teased him, “You slept in a bit, didn’t you?”

He gave me a very strange look. The look you give to a silly youngster with no idea what other people can fit into their schedule before breakfast. Today, Daniel is one of the richest European with assets estimated at USD 3.2 billion.

Today I do understand that the centre-point of your day is not noon but morning. There the most difficult issues are to be concentrated. Two hours after you wake up your performance and creativity are at their peak. If you manage to combine both relaxation and movement (meditation and sport), you also feel fresh and energised. Your morning influences your entire day.

What can you manage to do before breakfast? What is your time management like?

I’ve been watching successful people for more than 10 years. I learn from them and get inspired. By the way, lots of my posts are about the things they have advised me to do. There are certainly all kinds of people, but the fact is, there is something about pre-breakfast habits. What inspiration can we get from the successful?

1. Get up at sunrise

Life is not complicated, we just make it so. For instance, by not having our lives in synch with nature.

At sunrise, everything comes to life. Birds, flowers, the air is changing. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, puts his sneakers on and is out the door at 5.30, at the latest. Indra Nooyi, the Head of Pepsi does yoga between 4 and 5 am. Sting, Madonna, and Willem Dafoe practise the five-thousand-year-old Ashtanga style of yoga. In the USA, nine out of ten top managers get up before six. Eight out of ten get up before 6 daily, i.e. weekends included. Yes, the name of the day does not make any difference. Why?

Your body does not like deviations from its sleep rhythm. It does not understand what ‘weekend’ means. Your body is a box of habits. It has a program it runs, and which it uses to automatically regenerate. That is why we can get up relaxed and refreshed at a certain time. This nightly regeneration process includes a final phase during which our mind gets ready to wake up and be—relatively immediately—alert. Those who wake up regularly know this: once in a routine you wake up by yourself, just a little while before your alarm clock goes off. Yes, your body is a container of habits. And it’s difficult for it to change.

When you disrupt your weekly rhythm at the weekend thinking you will “catch up on your sleep”, it might help you short-term. But if you keep confusing your brain this way—sleeping during the day if you’re not used to it—you can, paradoxically, get worse. You might feel tired, in a daze, drained of energy, despite the fact you “got more sleep”. And it is even worse on the first working day after the weekend when—as a result of your weekend sleep—you force your body function before it expects it. The only well tested way to catch up on your sleep is therefore to go to bed earlier. But you should always get up at the same time!

Where can you get energy to get up earlier?

And how can you function on fewer hours of sleep but still feel energised?

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