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Make the Most of Your Mornings: Remember What Really Matters (Day 15)

Well, it’s been three weeks that we’ve been focusing on making the most of our mornings. I’ve developed some good habits, been challenged to implement more self-discipline in my life, and been so encouraged by those of you who have left comments or sent emails sharing about the progress you’re making!

In this final post, I want to talk about the why behind making the most of our mornings. Because if we don’t have a reason for doing what we’re doing and making big changes, it’s a lot harder to find the motivation to stick with them.

It’s Not About Getting Up Early

Throughout this series, I noticed that many people equated “making the most of your mornings” with getting up early. While I’m a fan of early rising, I don’t think you need to get up early in order to make the most of your mornings.

Sure, many people (myself included) have found that the day is much smoother and more productive if you get an early start. But honestly, what time you get up is not the point. In fact, some of you have said that your mornings go better when you sleep in.

Find out what works for your family, your body’s clock, and your season of life — and then run with that!

It’s Not About Running Around Like a Productive Machine

Getting more stuff done should be a means to an end, not the be all, end all of life. On my deathbed, it’s not going to matter how many hundreds of things I crossed off my list if I ran everyone over and ran myself ragged for the sake of productivity.

It’s About Making the Most of Our Life

The reason for using our mornings well is so we have time for what matters most. If I can work toward more order in our home and more self-discipline in my personal life, it frees me up to have more time to invest in serving and loving other people, more time to savor the beauty of nature, more time to spend enjoying my family and friends, more time to stop and share a kind word with a stranger or someone in need, and more time to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Making the most of our mornings doesn’t always mean we add more to our plate, become a powerhouse of productivity, or cross more things off our to-do lists. But my hope is that some of the things you’ve learned from this series and some of the habits you’re working on developing will allow you to be able to have time and energy each day to focus more on doing what matters most.

Final Project

1. Think back over the last three weeks and leave a comment telling us what you learned and hope to carry with you as a result of this challenge.

2. Consider what matters most in your life and contemplate how you can cut back on the unimportant to make room for the important. I’ve found that it’s helpful to routinely step back and ask myself, “Is this going to matter in 25 year from now?” This simple question helps me gain clarity when I’m struggling with prioritization.

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  • I totally agree with you Crystal. Although I get more done when I’m up early, it also frees up my day for other important things. If I get my Bible reading and exercise done first thing in the morning, I have more time during the day to spend with the kids and keep my home in order.

  • Shelly says:

    Over the last few week I have learned that for myself having a plan for each day really helps me keep on top of things in my life so tasks are not forgotten or left undone because the day has just not gone well.

    I also really have thought more about exercise and my life. I have always told myself I just don’t like exercise. This is something I have changed. I can’t say my exercise time is something I look forward to but I am now committed to getting it done. I know in the long run taking better care of myself will help me take better care of my family.

    I like to think about things I am doing each day and how they will matter in the future too. Sometimes the mundane things I need to do each day like cleaning or cooking from scratch, I think how will my kid remember this? I still have fond memories of my great grandma cooking with me, my mom with my sister and myself picking fruit to can, growing a garden and even cleaning corn on the cob to process for the freezer. These are all fond memories of everyday tasks that have remained with me. I think taking the time to include the kids with everyday tasks helps them no only learn but can build great memories for them. I will have to consider more activities I do each day to think about the true value of each task.

  • Michelle says:

    Thing I learned the most…you have to be intentional. Being intentional about how I spend my evening, so that I can use the morning to it’s fullest has eased so much tension in my day. I’ve realized that I must be intentional about getting exercise and eating well, otherwise it just doesn’t happen. And most importantly, I must be intentional about the relationships in my life. Whether the Lord, my husband, children or friendships, time will slip away all too quickly and I’ll wonder where it went. Thanks, Crystal, for helping me see the areas of my life that were lacking intentional living.

  • Well said. The time I have gotten up over the years has changed drastically, but what I try to do each morning has not changed for years, and that is to wake up with a happy heart and hit the floor ready to serve my family to the best of my abilities. Do I succeed in this every day, Nope, and that is where the grace of God comes in and the ability to wake up the next day and try again.

  • Amanda says:

    First, thank you for doing this series! It has put a lot of things in perspective.
    I have learned that:
    1. It is important to give yourself grace.
    – If my 3 month old gets up several times in the night I am not going to be able to get up as early as planned. But, that’s ok because , I’ve already taken care of some of the things the night before.
    2. With that said, it’s important to have a plan B.
    – I have a routine I use if my night doesn’t go as planned. It’s scaled down to the bare necessities.
    3. This is just a training session.
    – Eventually I will figure out what works and what doesn’t. By the time my son is sleeping thru the night I’ll be ready!

    • Susan in St. Louis says:

      Wow, I’m impressed! You sound like you’re way ahead of the game if your son is only three months old! 🙂

      • Amanda says:

        Thank you. I have had success with the morning routine before but the kids were older. I’m just waiting for the baby to continuiously sleep thru the night. Then I can really dive in. 🙂

  • Mary Ellen says:

    This post reminds me of my new favorite book that I just read, “Life is So Good” by George Dawson. An autobiography of a man who went back to school at 98 to learn to read.

    Life is so good!!!!! The End.

    • christie says:

      Life is so Good …. that is one of my favorite books of all time! Amazing history too. I was stunned with the part that everyone he knew was poor and illiterate to the point that he had never heard of The Great Depression. That was everyday life.
      ~ Christie

  • Cindy says:

    “The reason for using our mornings well is so we have time for what matters most.”

    I love this, and it’s something that I’ve definitely learned in this challenge. When I get up late, my whole focus is on making sure everything is ready to head out the door. By getting things ready the night before, much of that is taken care of. So in the morning, I have a little me time, and then I have time to snuggle with my Kiddo when he comes and crawls into my lap. And that’s really what matters!

  • Spot on Crystal. The last three weeks helped me put things in perspective and has allowed me to re-evaluate what’s important, right now, in our current season of life AND what steps I want (need) to take to reach our goals – as a family and individually.

    I wish this series didn’t have to end, though. The daily accountability has been so helpful!

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this challenge…thank you! I’ve learned that at this stage of my life (which will change at some point, I know!), I CAN get up fairly early and get some walking and quiet time in before my day really starts. Going to bed at a decent hour has been KEY for that. I think my husband’s also noticed some benefits to these changes as I’ve had more energy. 😉

    Thanks, Crystal! And may God grant your little one (and you and Jesse) peace during the outpatient surgery and recovery process!

  • Since getting up early, I’ve learned that…

    a) It’s important to start my day off with God’s word. I really think it keeps me focused with what is truly important.

    b) Getting my exercise done first thing makes me feel healthier and happier.

    c) My work gets done rather than procrastinating until the last second.

    d) I always have room to improve, lessons to learn, etc.

    e) I’m not the only one that prefers wearing pj’s or workout clothes until noon. Still working on this area, ha! 😉

    Thank you for posting this series!

  • Esther says:

    During the last three weeks I focused on getting up early and getting organized. I can’t believe what a difference it makes! I’m showered, dressed and ready for work before waking the kids up for school and my husband up for work. As a result, I have time to actually spend with my family making sure everyone is ready for their day. It starts us out on the right foot. Through getting organized, the piles on the island are disappearing and the clutter is mostly gone. Overall, the small changes have helped me put a routine in place that opens up time for me in the evening once the kids are in bed! I now have plenty of time to exercise or craft or read a book–it’s wonderful and so very fulfilling!

  • lori says:

    Crystal, a quick editing note: You wrote, “On my deathbed, it’s not going to matter how many hundreds of things I crossed off my life …” I think you meant to write “crossed off my list.”

    Nice series! I didn’t follow this one as closely as some of the others, but I definitely gathered some tips and tricks to make my mornings go more smoothly.

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, my mom emailed me about that this morning and I had just gone in and fixed it. Thanks for catching it!

      • Can I “like” this comment? I love that your mom reads your blog. 🙂 My parents read my blog too, and I always look forward to their feedback.

        I like your point, “It’s Not About Getting Up Early.” The key for me was not getting up spectacularly early, but just getting up before my kids. What also helped was having clear goals for that time: a short manageable list of things to do each day before breakfast. I also really needed some positive reinforcement, through stars each day on my calendar. Thanks for the motivation!

        By the way, I just added your goal of getting a shower before 9am each day. So far, so good!

  • Rachael says:

    Thank you for helping me get back into my daily Bible reading. I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference this is making. I now do it first thing in the morning before I get out of bed. Your routine for laundry also is really helping our family. We are planning on getting a mother’s helper, and my husband suggested that she help with laundry. I couldn’t believe I was actually able to say, “actually, I’ve got that pretty much under control.”

  • Mama S says:

    First, thank you for this series…it has helped me to really appreciate my 3:30am alarm and I actually look forward to waking up in the mornings.

    My husband and I had our first child this past April; he was a little over 6 weeks early, spent 16days in NICU, and now is a perfectly happy healthy 4 month old. Prior to me returing to work, I knew it was important to me and a priority to nurse my son before leaving. With an hour commute, I get up at 3:30 am so I have plenty of time to get myself ready, feed our dogs, unload dishwasher, prepeare dinner, etc but more importantly, I get about 45 mins with my son nursing him and starting my day holding him and having those precious minutes of complete calmness, love, and joy. I wouldn’t want to start my day any other way.

    Thank you for your insight!

  • Jimi says:

    I just wanted to say again that I’ve loved this series. One of the best parts for me has been the accountability. I’ve loved reading through the comments and adding my own. And, I feel like I’m just getting started…sad to see the series end. Maybe we could do a check-in sometime?? I don’t know about anyone else, but I need the accountability.

    And the whole series definitely has helped me to think more about what’s important, because I am spending more focused time evaluating my day and to do list. I’ve struggled in the past to set goals for the week, but now I have some categories of things I really do want to spend intentional time on and the goals flow much more naturally from that.

    Thanks again for all the encouragement.

  • Lisa says:

    I just LOVE your weekly challenges, Crystal! This one is no exception. I was thinking today on my drive to work that this challenge was for me not so much about getting more done but it helped me prioritize the things that need to happen. I find if I don’t do something for myself first thing in the morning, I never do it. So getting up a little earlier to do one thing that is just for me is something I’m making a priority. Right now it’s squeezing in a little exercise before I head off to work so that when I get home it can be all about my family. When I put things in that order, life just seems to be more settled for me. Keep these challenges coming! 🙂

  • Marilyn says:

    I learned that if I plan the night before, my mornings aren’t near as hectic as they had been. Also learned that sleep DOES indeed make a difference! Thanks for challenging us to make the most of our mornings! 🙂

  • michelle says:

    The best thing I have learned is how important having a nighttime routine is to having a smooth morning. Instead of yelling because my daughter cannot find her shoes again and being stressed because I still have to make lunches and find the baby’s pacifier and oh no I forgot to make my coffee and we needed to be out the door 10 minutes ago, we try to get as much done as possible the night before. Now I make lunches, help my daughter pick out her clothes and locate her shoes, make sure the coffee maker is loaded and pour milk into sippy cups for the morning, and pack our bags for the next day. All this only takes about 20 minutes but it has made a huge difference in our mornings. Now all we have to do is eat breakfast and get dressed in our already picked out clothes and we are ready. No more yelling to hurry io or searching for a lost tennis shoe in a pile of toys at 7 am!!

  • Exactly. When people tell me they’re looking for ways to save time, I always ask what they’re saving time for. Being productive and organized are not virtues in their own right — it’s what you do because you’re up and at ’em. Thanks so much for this series.

  • Heather says:

    I’ve been reading this series and your book at the same time. The biggest things I’ve gained are:
    1) Establish an evening routine. This has helped me sooo much!
    2)Establish a morning routine. (And it doesn’t have to look like Crystal’s! : ) ) My 5 things is the morning are get out of bed, change the baby’s diaper, get the baby dressed, get ready, and get my son to school on time.
    3) I have designated yearly goals and broken them down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Therefore, I HAVE goals. And I’ve learned that even small steps in the right direction, are steps toward the goal!

  • beingjennifer says:

    This series has really helped me to look at how I spend my time during the day. Where I spend it carelessly and where I’m conscientious. I feel like I’ve been able to clarify and simplify my routine even more. This has helped me to be more productive and flexible. I’m still working on getting to bed on time for my Before Bed Routine, but even if I stay up a bit later, I’m at least getting things finished that I don’t have to worry about in the morning. That’s been a huge blessing. More to work on, but at least I’m working it.

  • Anna says:

    You shared so many great tips and a wonderful game plan in this series. But what I really took away and have been able to implement successfully is the evening list. Well, really my list of musts is short. One thing: clean the kitchen!!! While it would have been fantastic to adopt all of the habits outlined in the series, I’m really happy with the way that one change has impacted my days. Having the discipline to get my kitchen in order every evening, and the joy of waking up in the morning to clear counters gives me courage to confront the day. I have also done a much better job cleaning up the house in general before bed. I have the children pick up their room before bedtime stories, and pick up the living room so that things are generally orderly.

  • Rachael says:

    I found this blog about a week ago, and, so, caught Day 14 and 15 of this series. I was so struck, that I went back and read the first 13 days I missed! I plan to go back, again, and grab the text into evernote, so I’ve got the info to read through occasionally.

    Thanks for this and for the honesty, its quite encouraging.

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