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All of the time we hear about how top C-Level executives, billion-dollar founders, big time motivational people, and others are up and at it early in the morning.  And then so many times we hear about how every other Average Joe get’s up early too because “it’s what Zuck does.”  However, there is a valuable point to be made about getting up early or even going to bed late, and that is the value of habit.  Let’s face it, any John or Jane Smith can get up early and make a pot of coffee, think about what they will do for the day, or dream about what they hope to achieve.  But very few actually make morning, afternoon, and nighttime rituals creating a habit to lead themselves to greater success.  It is somewhat complicated to explain, but getting up early or going to bed late is not about having more time available to your disposal but it is about allowing yourself to have more opportunity by making the most of your time.

Because We All Have the Same 24 Hours

Chances are, if you are reading this then you are looking for ways to make more of your time, and if you are looking to make more of your time then you have heard the line stated above.  Frankly, if you are trying to make more of your time then you should probably get off of this page and go do something productive because we all do things differently.   We all make the use of our time differently than others, but if it’s what Tim Cook does then it must work for me right?  Wrong.  Because again, habit is the root of time.   So what exactly is my thought process here?  It’s relatively simple.  If you wake up early, then you need to make that bit of time so high level that you are guaranteed to get even more done through the day.

You see, getting up early or going to bed late really is not intended to do tasks.  It is intended for you to make a power-list of things that you need to get done and that you want to get done.  The things that you need to get done would be tasks that revolve around running your business or helping you move further along in your career.  The things that you want to get done would be stuff like self-improvement, going to the gym, reading a book, meeting up with some people, taking care of chores around the house, etc.  So many people think that they need to get up early and just jump straight into their email because that is what will make them productive.  But it isn’t.  When you are forcing work into your life you not only drain yourself but you will also eventually start to lose hope because you are looking for something that is not there.   It’s like trying to start a car with no gas.  Real simple analogy there, I won’t even bother to explain.

The Easiest Way to Make the Most of Your Day

Now, before I dive too deep into this please understand that this is not the answer that you need.  It is an answer that you should consider, just as you should consider everything that you read or hear thoroughly before applying it to your own life.  If you take anything and everything that you hear or read and then adapt it to your life then you will never find true comfort, habit, or personal success because you are too busy trying to force yourself to adapt to some other way.  This is what works for me, and also works for many others.  But again, mentally run this through your mind and see if you feel it.  If you don’t, well then it’s not for you.

For me, the easiest way to make the most of my day actually starts at night with a paper notebook and a perfect pen.  I have created a to-do, and more, that I call my 10-20.  In radio transmission 10-20 (also heard as “what’s your 20?”) is requesting someone to state their location.  My location states my location to me in life and also goes a little bit deeper.  I have 10 tasks daily and then my hindsight, which is always 20/20; which is how I came to create my “10-20” list.  The process is simple, I create 5 must-do tasks, 3 should-do tasks, and 2 could do tasks.  I also leave an area to reflect on my most significant win, my hindsight 20/20 for the day, and a small journal about it all.  I also make a little box in the top corner to write down “W” or “L” to quickly see which days I won or lost, which is determined by completing my 5 must-do tasks.

The break down of these “dos” is pretty straight forward.  The must-do tasks are tasks that I need to do to move forward in life.  The should-do tasks are things that I should do to stay ahead.  The could-do tasks are things that I could do if my musts and shoulds are done and I have some free-time to improve myself mentally or physically.  The could-do tasks are more or less personal rewards, which is why there are only two to pick from.  Again, this only applies to the things that I would like to do, not the things that I need to do.  I do not include tasks like going to the gym, laying out my clothes for the next day, home chores, or stuff like that because those are all personal things that I know need to be done regularly to not be a slum.

All I Do Is Win, Win, Win No Matter What

DJ Khaled said it best “all I do is win, win, win no matter what” and honestly the following lyrics apply as well.  With that being said, knowing how to make a list to make the most of your day, you then need to apply it to every single day.  Not one day, not every other day, not just Monday through Friday, and sure as hell not just when you feel like you really need to do something the next day.  It needs to be applied to every single day.  Why? Because of habit.

By committing yourself to making a list every day you will find yourself accomplishing needed tasks every day, and when you start to win every day you will become ecstatic to get to the next day to do it again.  You may even find yourself going to bed at a normal hour to get a normal amount of good rest.  Not only have you started to achieve greatness at this point, but you have started to form a habit that you will naturally start to live by.  With that being said, when you do lose, and you will, you may find yourself getting a bit mad at yourself.  You may even feel like a failure.

Keep Going Even When You Lose

Have you ever seen an Olympian not finish a race even when they can clearly see they have lost the race?  Of course not, that is because they have made a habit to always pursue the finish line to attempt a chance at victory even when they know that victory won’t be theirs this time around.  It is a bittersweet thought to process but you have to learn to use that thought, that moment, as a way to increase your desire to do better, to be better, and to achieve more.  American writer Neal Shusterman once said “I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.” and that is exactly how you should think.  You still need to recognize and admit your failure, but don’t let the sight or thought of failure stop you.

Does this mean that you should aim for mediocre?  Does this mean you should accept second place?  Does this mean that you should “at least just show up” and participate?  Hell no.  Never settle, never accept a loss as okay, and never believe in earning a participation award.  You don’t earn anything by just showing up, you should never reward yourself for just participating.  You need to do it to win it.  If you want it, you have to do the work, and if you do the work you have to aim for greatness and nothing less.

Finding Your Way

As mentioned above, everyone has their own way of going about doing stuff.  However, you know you need to find a habit, a way, and a better process to get stuff done.  So do it!  Nobody has the answer to success.  There is no secret answer that will help you become better, more committed or more into what you do.  Only you have control of that, only you have the power to make yourself do what you need to do and you have the control to do what you want to do.  So get out and do it!