The first hour matters more than you know.

Is there anyone that is not feeling the weight of work and life in 2021?

There has been an overwhelmingly common theme surfacing in the discussions I’ve been having with business owners and peers over these last 11 months. A palpable weight has been accumulating as the needs of work, family, health, and life pile up behind a facade of “having it all together” and being under control. This push feels relentless, to the extent that many can’t find a moment to breathe – including myself.

While I don’t have the magic cure to fix it all, here is a strategy that has helped me and my clients find the breathing room needed to create a better sense of balance amid all the frenzied activities that have become synonymous with life:  Own Your First Hour.

What does it mean to own that first hour?

Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.

It does NOT mean checking emails and social media.

It does NOT mean diving right into your laptop.

It does NOT mean rushing around because you hit the snooze button one too many times.

Your first hour should be just that: YOURS.  It should be intentional and used to set yourself up for a productive and powerful day.  There are many ways to best utilize that first hour, as you will see in the examples below, but there is a catch. It is easier said than done... at least at first.

It’s only powerful and balancing if you are solely focused on yourself. I know… (insert all the excuses currently running through your head).  I get it.  I have a family.  I have dogs.  I have a house that I feel constantly needs to be cleaned.  But what I’ve come to realize is that my interactions with said family, dogs, and home go much smoother when I have spent that first hour on myself. Habits take time, but the habit of owning this first hour will likely improve your day ten-fold.

So, how to put this into practice? Owning your first hour can look like something like this:

Read:  A book.  A newspaper.  A magazine.  Something made of actual paper.  Notice that eliminates Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media – even Audible for that matter.  If your reading material is on an electronic device, it’s too easy to check email or the latest post while scrolling through a news article.

Move:  Do some quiet stretching or yoga. Go for a run. Walk the dog.  Really, any movement to wake up your muscles.  Just 10 minutes can shake off sleep and stimulate your energy. In a world where we are spending too many hours stationary behind computer screens, movement is critical to our overall health and well-being. In fact, energy was identified as a critical habit by Brendon Burchard in his research on high performance habits.

Write:  Spend time journaling – again, the old fashion way of putting pen to paper. There is substantial research behind the positive power of journaling. Get the day’s tasks out of your head. Jot down ideas you have for a new blog or a product you want to develop. Write a poem or visualize in words what you want the next 30 days to look like. Or simply use some of that hour to write that long overdue thank you note (another lost art).

Meditate: Every morning I start out with a 5-minute audio recording of Chakra bells to align my body and mind for the day.  It doesn’t have to be bells.  You can sit quietly with your thoughts, you can verbalize affirmations – whatever you need to do to set your mind in a positive space. Some even like to call it “ideate” rather than meditate. No matter the name, allowing yourself to just BE - even just 5 minutes - is calming and re-energizing.

Hydrate: Did this one surprise you? When you get up tomorrow morning, stop and ask yourself, “when did I last have water?” It was probably with dinner which, if you are getting adequate sleep, was likely 12 hours ago! That means your body is dehydrated – not good. Drinking at least 8 ounces of water upon rising in the morning jumpstarts your cells and clears brain fog. Your body and mind will thank you.

Feed your body: (aka EAT!) Not while getting the kids ready for school.  Not in between sending emails.  Not while scrolling through social media. Not while watching TV. Instead, make it a mindful, purposeful event. At a table. With actual plates and silverware (nice touch). Take notice of how fast you eat. Are you even tasting the food? Even if breakfast is just that first cup of coffee… STOP, feel the warmth of the mug in your hands and ENJOY every last drop. Oh, and this goes for EVERY meal. Be present for yourself and those around you. This time bonding over a meal is priceless.

“SLOW DOWN to SPEED UP.” It’s not just a mantra on our team and with our clients. We have found it a necessity to do our best work. Owning your first hour is this mantra in action.

Your first hour is unique to you. What does it look like? What can you do in that first hour to set yourself up for a great day? Movement and meditation are always part of my first hour. Feel free to mix and match what I’ve listed above and include anything else that will help get your day started well.

If you would like to dive deeper into this practice, check out Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning or High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. My colleague, Cheyenne Bennett is a Certified High Performance Coach who sees first-hand the transformation these principles have had on her coaching clients’ lives and her own. She has written several blogs about these habits like this one on necessity.

I have certainly had my share of overwhelming moments, and the last 18 months have compounded that feeling of weight and anxiety. And here is the real take away: When I spend this time to set my intentions for the day and breathe, it not only benefits me, but my family, my clients and my colleagues as well.  That’s certainly an hour worth owning.

How will you OWN your first hour? Got a routine you’d like to share? Message me, I’d love to know.


Cheryl Doll is a Senior Business Advisor / Gravitas Coach at Compass Point Consulting and provides hands-on consulting & coaching to help family businesses close performance gaps; give owners practical, actionable tools that drive growth; deliver training to develop leaders and position the business for successful ownership transition - all on their terms.

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