I don’t know a single worker or student who hasn’t struggled with time management at one point or another. With a busy life and many conflicting demands on your time, you may feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do.
Enter the Heroic Minute.
What is the Heroic Minute?
The Heroic Minute refers to waking up early.
I know, few people enjoy getting up early. But before you discount this idea, stay with me and I’ll explain. The concept of the Heroic Minute refers to getting up each day at a specified time, without “granting a single minute to laziness” (St Josemaría Escrivá.) The idea is that, if you get up as soon as your alarm goes off, you’ll accomplish more throughout the day. You’ll also have extra time to start your day off on the right note.
In several world religions, the concept is associated with giving the first moments of your day to God. But you don’t have to be religious to use the Heroic Minute idea to get a better start to your day.
What’s the point?
According to the Sleep Council, snoozing your alarm is actually bad for you. Why? Because those five or ten (or, let’s face it, 30) minutes of extra time in bed are not providing you with restful sleep. Those short bursts of extra sleep in between hitting the snooze button aren’t restful and can damage your sleep pattern. Counterintuitive though it may seem, you’ll end up feeling worse than if you got up straight away.
In other words, if you set your alarm for 7, get up at 7. If you know you won’t drag yourself from under the duvet until 7:30, don’t snooze the alarm five or six times. Just set it for 7:30 instead.
The other main benefit of the Heroic Minute is that you’ll have extra time to focus on the things you want to do. This will set you up for a fulfilling and productive day.
How to do it
The Heroic Minute is easy in theory, but difficult in practice.
All you have to do is set your alarm for an earlier time than usual, and then actually get up at that time. Easy, right? Well, not exactly. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be cursing your alarm and wanting to throw it across the room the first few times you try this.
But stick with it.
What to do with your Heroic Minute
So once you’ve conquered the urge to hit the snooze button and actually dragged yourself out of bed, what are you going to do with that extra time?
Well, you should do whatever makes you feel good and sets you up to have a great day!
Here are a few options we like that you might want to consider:
- Walk (or cycle) to work, school, or university rather than taking the bus. The time outside will clear your head, and the exercise will leave you energised for the rest of the day.
- Go to the gym or swimming pool, go for a run, or do a home workout.
- Read a book for pleasure.
- Work on a creative project, like writing a book or knitting a scarf.
- Listen to music that makes you feel good.
- Make a delicious breakfast and eat it slowly, enjoying every bite.
- Hop onto Duolingo and spend a few minutes learning a language.
- Pray or meditate.
- Do some yoga or gentle stretching.
- Write in your journal.
The possibilities are endless and there are no wrong answers. Pay attention to your needs and do what feels right. It’s also normal if this changes day to day – you don’t have to do the same thing every time. The point is just to savour the extra time to do something that brings you joy.
Don’t sacrifice the rest you need
There’s a big caveat to all this: don’t sacrifice the amount of rest you actually need. The optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person, so pay attention to your body.
The ideal solution is simply to shift your whole sleep cycle back. If you normally go to bed at 11 and wake up at 7, try going to bed at 10:30 or even 10 o’clock to recoup the sleep you’ll be losing from getting up earlier.
Your Heroic Minute also doesn’t need to mean getting up an hour, or even half an hour, earlier than usual if that doesn’t feel manageable for you. Even ten or fifteen minutes can make a real difference.
Activity: try it for 1 week and record how you feel
It takes time to change a habit. Therefore, our challenge to you this week is to try the Heroic Minute every morning for a week. After that, you can assess whether or not it’s working for you. Write a few words each morning describing how you feel, and pay attention to your energy levels and mental state throughout the day.
Keep an open mind and approach this challenge with curiosity. If it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to carry on. But we think you might be surprised!
Have you tried the Heroic Minute?
We’d love to hear how you got on and what you decided to do with your extra time!