Begin Each Day as a Producer

How do you start your day? Normally, I wake up and check my email. I make coffee, and hope I woke up early enough to carve out a little quiet time. But I may also check my RSS feed, blog metrics, twitter/facebook messages, or read the sports. If I’ve slept too late, I rush out the door and hope for the best.

Creative Commons via Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

It’s not the Best

The most important article I’ve read this week comes from the Information Diet, titled 500 Words Before 8am. It really struck a nerve with me, since I am continuously trying to develop a morning practice. Friends, the question is,

Do You Begin your Day as a Producer or a Consumer?

Clay (post author) is mainly talking about his writing, which speaks to me and many people who read this site. But it doesn’t stop at creative pursuits. Instead of filling your first waking moments with other people’s email, news, scores, expectations, and desires, why don’t you spend 30 minutes each morning producing?

Ways You can Produce

  • Make coffee (hooray!)
  • Cook breakfast, prepare lunch
  • Exercise: stretch, walk, run, pushups, yoga
  • Plan your day
  • Personal journaling
  • Write 500 words (about anything)
  • Pray

What is this post driving at? A narcissistic desire to make the day all about us? Not so. I’ve arrived at a place in my life where I’m trusting my gut more. When I wake up and make a conscious desire to create something meaningful this world can use, I feel better. When I wake up and spend my freshest moments consuming and reacting to outside information and events, I feel a little off.

My old excuse was “I’m still waking up, give me 20 minutes to have coffee and read some blog posts, then I’ll be ready.” Once you begin creating from what’s inside, you’ll learn (as I have) that a production mindset wakes you up and gets the juices flowing. Lately, all I have done before sitting down to write is make coffee (still producing). While it’s brewing, I let my dog out, say a few prayers, and then get down to production, be what it may.

The crux of the decision comes down to choosing what is important. I’ve made excuses about writing for too long. I either had to make writing and blogging a priority, or shut up about it. There are several things that are still very important to me; family, friends, exercising, being outdoors. But I need to be ruthless about the time I am writing.

Tips for Early-Morning Focus

  • Write 1 goal down, and place it where you will see it
  • Turn off the internet
  • Go somewhere quiet
  • Pray, & take deep breaths (the resistance is strong)
  • Just start

Having a realistic expectation, something you know you can do, is the best way to start. Instead of 500 words, write 100. Do 10 pushups, make 1 sandwich, or plan half your day. You may look at such tiny goals and think “that’s too small”, but don’t underestimate the power of completion. After a few days of success, increase the goal. You have your whole life to complete goals, you don’t need to build Rome in a day. Disclaimer: Parts of this paragraph are credited to Leo @ Zen Habits, and his great little book The Power of Less (aff link). 

Not all consumption is bad, and you may feel differently (go ahead, it won’t hurt my feelings). For me, production works. I’m a 3 on the Enneagram (Performer/Achiever), so I thrive on a feeling of accomplishment. You may be totally different! Besides feeling I’ve already done something with my day, I know the only time I truly control is early in the morning. So I’ve made writing and reflection a priority during my first waking hour, with the hope that I am acting on the world, not the world is acting on me.

Question: Are you a producer or consumer? Which practice do you believe works best for you and your mindset the rest of the day? I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. says

    I agree, producing versus consuming first thing sets me up for a better day – the challenge for me is to get past the distractions and execute the plan I set the night before. Consuming puts us on someone else’s agenda while producing lets us set our own agenda.

  2. says

    Great post Matt. I have been doing my writing late. I should say leaving it until late. This is a good reminder for me of the power a great early morning ritual. Thanks for this.

    • says

      I appreciate it Albert! I was also a late night writer, often though the practice would be left for sleep, or other things which needed attention. Waking up before everyone else allows me the space to do what I need to. Thanks for reading!

  3. Blake Hiemstra says

    That’s really brilliant actually. It’s amazing how much the 15 minutes of coffee and email checking can suck the creative life out of a morning and before I know it the kids are awake and time is gone. I like the idea of being a producer, however that happens. Thanks for the insight.


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