Book excerpt: My Morning Ritual

The book I’m writing, The Five-Day Turnaround, is written as a narrative, first-person story, and throughout I share tips and tricks on how the main character, Will, manages his time as a leader and CEO. Yes, Will is basically me, so these strategies are tools that I’ve honed over the years to help me be more successful.

Below is an unedited passage from the book, focusing on the process I…er, I mean Will, uses each morning to get going.


Ever since I became an entrepreneur, I’ve become very focused on how I manage my time and what I focus on. Time, I believe, is our most valuable (and scarce) resource.

I call this my Morning Ritual, and it is based on three areas of focus:

#1 – Get organized

For some, email can be a real problem. But for me, I quite enjoy the benefits that email brings. I can respond to things after thoughtful consideration (unlike text messages which seem to prompt a quick reply) and in the manner that makes the most sense.

The first thing I do every morning is clear out my email inbox and check any other messages that might need a reply (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) I’m always more motivated and less distracted throughout the day when I clear out the log jam of messages that have piled up since the day before.

#2 – Get focused

Once I’ve cleared out my messages, I start by looking at my to-do list and calendar. My to-do list, which I keep in a notepad that I carry with me everywhere, keeps me focused on the important things. I move the list to a new page each day, rewriting the entire list. This forces me to make sure that my to-do’s are important – when I find that I am rewriting a task several days in a row, it makes me reconsider whether it is a truly important task. Additionally, the act of continuously writing my to-do’s makes sure that I keep them top of mind.

My calendar is my daily/weekly playbook. Having color-coded events so I know where I’m spending my time is a must. I spend time each morning looking at the day and the rest of the week, making sure that my meetings make sense and that I have enough free time built in to think and respond to various business needs that come up.

#3 – Headspace

The last area I focus on as I start the day is what I call Headspace. These are the handful of areas that are most important for me to be putting proactive time against. It can be very easy, as a leader, to simply be reactive to what is coming your way. It’s an easy trap to fall into as there is no shortage of items that will land on your desk.

I personally keep my Headspace items in Evernote, which I can review on my phone, tablet, and laptop. I mark these items with a #headspace tag, allowing me to quickly review them when needed. If the list grows too large, I question whether all of the items should make the cut and are truly important.