Start Your Day

Start Your Day

Our founder Ron Slee waxes nostalgic and vulnerable in his blog post this week. “Start Your Day” isn’t just a look back over six decades of a career, though, it sings the praises of all of the productive habits and accomplishments you can reach when you are an early riser.

Start Your Day

Over the course of my work life, now spanning sixty years, I have always been an early riser. That still seems strange to me in that one of the things I did to pay my way through university was to play the piano in a bar. I finished typically at 4:00 AM. I was still on the ski hill at 9:00 AM with a group of students. 


I started work in this industry in 1969. Pretty soon thereafter I was travelling two weeks a month, sometimes more. Being in my early twenties it never bothered me. I thought it was exciting. It was the time of James Bond and so I ate alone a lot. I always had a book to keep me company. Then I got married and suddenly, I was a nervous flyer and didn’t want to travel. That became significantly more difficult when I became a parent. I didn’t want to leave home at all. That came crushing down on me after Marlene and Caroline had dropped me off at the airport and Caroline asked Marlene if she had done something wrong that I was leaving. That gets you.


Travel has been a large part of my life. I have travelled over eight million miles on airplanes. Believe me when I say that is not a badge of honor. To make it more interesting it was all over the world. That means I had to deal with time zones a lot. My doctor collaborated with me in that he had me on a three-step regimen. We started over the counter and escalated from there depending on how many days it had been without sleep. Remember I was teaching two-day classes that typically ran for ten hours and then involved dinner with the students. I can’t tell a lie. I love teaching, I always have.

But in the past few years I have travelled significantly less. But my timetable is still pretty much the same. I wake up between 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM and I am typically sitting at the computer shortly thereafter. You know the routine. Read your email, respond to various issues, and other things that take you away from a normal routine start to your day. 

Then I read an article that changed that routine for me. Since then, things are different here. I have a series of things I must do BEFORE sitting at the computer. The article was by Perri Blumberg, and it definitely got my attention. Her recommendations, as with most things, are very straightforward and tend to be simple things. 

  1. Wear a variation of the same thing every day. Think Steve Jobs. Well, I did that. I had a Brown set of clothing and a grey set. A blazer, pants, neutral shirts, and shoes. I would come home on a Thursday or Friday and unpack and pack. From one color to the other.
  2. Before you get out of bed, set yourself up for a cheerful outlook. Think about everything you are going to accomplish today.
  3. Drink WATER. Hydrate yourself. You have been lying in bed all night and your body has been consuming the water you have stored in your body. It needs a fill-up.
  4. Then I move away from what Perri suggests, block out time for a high impact task. I moved to Nir Eyal, a Behavioral Scientist who teaches at Harvard for guidance. His book titled ‘Indistractable’ changed how I do my work. I have always been a “ToDo” List guy. Now I schedule my day with “Blocks”of time. It reduces the amount of stress in my day. I don’t have to finish something. I allocate specific blocks of time to things and when the alarm goes off signifying that that block of time is finished, I move on to the next time block. Imagine working one way for sixty years and finding a better way for me. I am profoundly grateful to this man.

Habits are hard to break so this morning routine is still a work in process. I do wear a variation of the same clothing now every day. I do lie back and look at the ceiling or the clouds in the sky and think of the good things I will get done. I am having trouble with the water thing. I still want my morning coffee or tea, but I am working on it. The time blocks have made an incredible difference, not just in my work but in my life.

I have given myself permission to think about my life with more focus as I get older. I wish I had started this exercise earlier in my life. Do you spend time thinking about your life? You should.

The Time is Now.

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