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Andy’s Notes from Business Folks: Darren Hardy – Start with a Solid Morning Bookend to Win the Day!

Whether you think of yourself as a “Morning Person,” or not, thoughtfully starting your day can set you up for success.

How many times do you usually hit the snooze button?!?  Not to beat up on that habit, but it’s representative of a morning that is poorly defined.  Just like getting immediately sucked into your phone, your email, or the morning news.  Since everyone wakes up at different times, the morning is one of the few times that you might not be expected to respond immediately.  By the middle of the day, however, the barrage of distractions is on, and it rarely stops until the workday is over.

So, your one chance to get some uninterrupted time before the world crashes in, is your morning.  By isolating yourself to start your day focused on your biggest priorities, gives you a chance to get a huge chunk of what you need to accomplish that day behind you, before the craziness takes over.

Introduction to Darren Hardy

Ten years ago, I picked up a copy of SUCCESS magazine in an airport news stand.  I don’t remember what caught my eye, but after reading it cover to cover on my flight, I ordered my subscription.  That flung me into Darren Hardy’s world.

Darren was the publisher of Success and that single act of subscribing knocked over the first of many dominoes that would dramatically change my life for the better.  As indicated by my picking up SUCCESS, I was interested in learning how to improve and grow, but I wasn’t using the term Personal Development at that time, and I wasn’t very systematic about my development.  Darren would change all that.

Insane Productivity – The Morning Bookend

Subscribing to SUCCESS entered me into Darren’s marketing database, and the first opportunity that I accepted was his Insane Productivity course.  Designed to help you become “Insanely Productive, Sanely,” the course opened my eyes to the distractions in my life that were holding me back.  I can’t recommend the course too strongly because there are so many aspects of Darren’s Productivity System that have helped me and my Team, but the most important concept I learned was that of the Morning Bookend.  Thoughtfully starting your day can totally change the game and help you on your path to success.

Isolate Your Morning

The biggest concept of the Morning Bookend is that you don’t have to let the outside world in until you decide it’s time.  With phones, email, and social media ever-present and designed to capture and keep your attention, it is easy to get sucked in without realizing it’s happened.  I was always an early riser, but I would typically fall prey to the allure of email or social media, as a regular part of my morning.  Through Insane Productivity, I established a clear division between my morning time and when I would engage with the outside world.  That waiting time allowed me to accomplish important tasks on my agenda, before letting anyone else’s agenda intrude.

Morning Bookends are personal to each individual.  Darren’s isn’t right for me, mine’s not right for him.  Neither of ours would be right for you.  Insane Productivity provides a framework for you to identify and execute your specific priorities that will lead to your personal success.  To achieve your goals, you need to establish the right behaviors.  Build those important behaviors into a morning routine, isolated from the outside world, that you can execute consistently.  That Morning Bookend you’ve defined for yourself, will lead to a successful start to your day.

Focus on The Most Important People in Your Life

One Morning Bookend suggestion from Insane Productivity was to spend some time focused on the most important people in your life.  Consider how you’d like to show up for them and what actions you can take to enhance your relationships.  It was this suggestion that led me to the most foundational part of my Morning Bookend: my morning emails.

The Morning Email

Ten years ago, when I was starting to build my Morning Bookend, my three daughters were teenagers.  Spending time with their parents wasn’t the highest priority in their lives, and it felt like I had a limited amount of time to interact with them.  Our most frequent time together was in the car, and I was regularly accused of “lecturing” them if I sought to engage in a meaningful conversation.  While I’m sure those conversations felt like lectures to them, I simply wanted an opportunity to engage with them in a loving way.  When Darren suggested I come up with a way to show up for them and take action to enhance my relationship with them, the idea of a morning email was born.

As a part of my routine, I would send each of the girls and my wife an email each morning.  I built a template that included a quote, a thought of gratitude, a detailed schedule of the day ahead, important items coming up in the next few days, and a photo or two.  I copied the template into an email for each person and added a few sentences to personalize each message.  Doing so forced me to focus on each one of them individually for just a few minutes each morning, and that time has become exceptionally valuable to me over the years.  I’ve often said that even if they never read any of my emails, writing them would still be an important part of my routine, because it starts my day focused on the most important people in my life.

A few months into the practice, I recognized the value of the process for me and realized I needed to use the same idea for my Team at work.  Now there are a few daily emails that go out to our Team each day.

Over the years, the formats of the emails have ebbed and flowed.  The business Team has evolved, and our girls moved on to college and then out on their own.  I’ve added a son-in-law and a few others to the family version.  We’ve added weekly morning emails to our Customers and morning Shipping Emails to our Customers the day after shipments are made.

Regular contact is how relationships get strong.  My goal for connecting with those most important people in my life is enhanced by the routine of my Morning Bookend.  I can’t imagine that I’ll ever want to stop.


Regardless of when you wake up each morning, you have the opportunity to establish some time for yourself before letting the rest of the world in.  Thoughtfully consider how you can establish routine behaviors aligned with your goals, build the behaviors into a Morning Bookend of activities, and execute them daily.  Your Morning Bookend can be the most important part of your day.  I’d encourage you to consider how you might enhance your most vital relationships through daily actions.

After learning about the Morning Bookend, I began the process of building mine.  I’ve discussed the morning email routine that I built, but there are many other aspects that are included.

Get Up Early – The Outside World is Still Sleeping

Admittedly, I’m a morning person.  I like to get up early, and I like to work out in the mornings.  It’s much easier to stay isolated from the outside world before 6am because everyone else is still asleep!

My morning routine is unique to me, but here’s what I do:

  • Weigh-in
  • Stretching/Push-Ups/Crunches
  • Dogs Out/Dogs Fed
  • Morning Devotionals
  • Morning Emails
  • Treadmill Time (Darren Daily!)
  • Stretching
  • Skim Newspaper
  • Shower & Dress
  • Review Goals
  • Review Planning Sheets

Build an Abbreviated Version

Not all days are built the same.  Altering my routine for an atypical early meeting or other adjustment is an important part of maintaining your routine.  Know which aspects can be shortened on specific days and which ones always get done and modify accordingly.  Similarly, not everything is the same when you’re traveling, so plan accordingly.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Sleep!

Getting up earlier starts with getting to bed earlier.  At times, I still struggle to get enough sleep, but it’s an important part of the equation.  Without proper sleep, you can’t operate at your best.  The best Morning Bookend can’t make up for a lack of proper rest, so adjust your schedule accordingly.

Have you written out your goals?

    • What daily behaviors could help you achieve them?
    • How can you build them into your Morning Bookend?

When do you first go for your phone in the morning?

      • Do you allow your workday to intrude on your “at home” time?
      • How long before you get on social media in the morning?

Do you prefer to work out in the morning or evening?

    • Is it easy to get your workouts in?
    • Do you ever skip or postpone?
    • How can you make it easier to never miss?

Darren Hardy is an American author, keynote speaker, advisor, and former publisher of SUCCESS magazine. He is a New York Times best-selling author, who wrote The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, Living Your Best Year Ever, and The Compound Effect.  He has been a central figure in the success media business for over 25 years.  In 2007 he became publisher of SUCCESS magazine and Success Media.  In December 2015, Darren left SUCCESS magazine to pursue new opportunities. Prior to this position, he held executive positions at two personal development-focused television networks.  His Darren Daily videos are emailed to hundreds of thousands of people each workday.  His Business Master Class and other courses have positively impacted millions of people worldwide.

  1. Does your morning routine set you up for success each day?
  2. What 3-5 things, if you did them every morning, would positively impact your life the most over the next 3-6 months?
  3. How long can you wait each morning, before you invite the outside world into your world through your phone, your email, or your social media?  (Hopefully, it’s at least 90 minutes!)