I assume what the most successful people do before breakfast is not read this book. Actually, that is a bit unfair. It is a book (or several chapters really) with a commonsense approach (and a little bit of research thrown in), that explains and illustrates the importance of putting in place a routine to achieving goals early in the morning.
I first came across this book through one of my favourite productivity blogs, and thought it could be useful for those of us who are writing, or working in fields where writing is essential.
As the book demonstrates, many of the world’s most accomplished writers, business people and community leaders have a rigid morning routine that follows them wherever they go. The short book explains how people make time work for them, to achieve personal goals – those fundamental goals that are most important to us.
The interesting thing is that I would call these goals “project oriented”. Despite the success of the people in the chapter used as case studies, they are able to achieve significant personal goals. Such as: writing books, getting fitter or spending quality time with family. It could be argued that it is not so much the morning routine that is important, but the project itself.
The book also shows that parents and time poor people can still achieve outcomes irrespective of their personal circumstances. By arguing the case that the first period of time in the day is the only time you may have to yourself, Vanderkam demonstrates that this should be the time for your most important goals.
There is also a good reason for this, backed up by research. Apparently, those who have a task which they set out to achieve in the mornings are more likely to stick to it – it is likely to become a part of their routine. This is opposed to have an afternoon routine, which may be more likely to be interfered with by work or other family pressures.
Although the book is entitled ‘What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast’ it is actually made up of three short books. The Aforementioned book, ‘What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend’ and ‘What the most Successful People Do at Work’.
The gem of the book is actually the third short book – what the most successful people do at work. In my opinion, it is a must read for those working in a bureaucracy, in the public service or in administration.
A lot of work that I have seen being done by people in such positions is in my opinion, not actually real work. It is work creation, which leads to micromanagement and poor productivity and output. And this section of the book points this out.
It resonated very strongly with me at certain points. Many of the activities that are pointed out as beneficial for productivity become actively excluded when poor management is involved. They’re actually actively discouraged and become problematic, and tie people to their unproductive work habits.
If you refuse to open your emails before 10, you can be hauled over the coals. But this is exactly the sort of advice that is given in this book. It is exactly why in my opinion it is a must read for managers and other administrators who actually supervise staff, to make sure that their style and instruction is not actually inhibiting workplace productivity and building frustration amongst staff.
If anything, I will continue to refer to this section of the book in my own work, and in professional settings.