Golden Hours

What Do You Do With Your Golden Hours?

What’s in your morning routine? Do you take full advantage of the Golden Hours?

August is to my daily routine as January is to my diet. Like the Christmas gustatory indulgences, which upset my eating habits, the lack of structure during the summer – not to mention the four-month-old puppy – have wreaked their havoc on my routines. This kind of upset doesn’t show up on my waistline, but instead in my inability to decide what I should do next and an inclination to give up and just go check email. Again. I find myself grazing on easy junk tasks instead of working on those projects that matter to me.

The transition to fall is the time of year to add some discipline to my routines and get them back into shape.

As I think about new routines for the start of the new school year, I wish that I could fit everything into the early morning hours. In my roseate daydreams, I would start every day having: read scripture and prayed, worked out, written 500 words, enjoyed some quiet time with coffee on the porch, done a few house chores, wrapped up some administrative work, eaten breakfast with my family, fed the chickens, worked in the garden, and worked in the yard. Oh, AND I would emerge from said routine showered, dressed, and fully ready to start the homeschooling, parenting, chauffeuring, cooking, and household managing part of my day.

But then I wake up and smell reality. This is so NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN. EVER.

So, what is most important to do early in the day? How should we decide what to do FIRST? What should I plan to do later in the day? This question has been on my mind lately, and so the term Golden Hours fascinated me when I stumbled upon it.

What Are Golden Hours?

Golden Hours are those hours in your day that you are most productive, creative, and energetic. Dan Ariely, Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics says, for most of us, our golden hours are the first two hours after being fully awake. However, I like to think we have at least 4 highly creative, energetic hours first thing in the morning.

I’ve experienced this first hand as I certainly have more energy and focus in the morning. During these early hours, I crave order and can find myself speeding around the house, cleaning up and setting the things in place that I had no energy to deal with the evening before. But now I know that this is not the best use of my morning time.

How Can We Use This Idea of Golden Hours to Plan Our Day?

This concept of Golden Hours appeared again in a book I’ve been reading, Manage Your Day to Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind :

The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-mail off.

We have heard the financial advice, “pay yourself first”, as it applies to investing and saving money for the future. In taking this advice, we can be kind to our future selves and think about what we will be grateful for in the future.

Stewarding our time is similar, in that we should pay ourselves first during the day. In five, ten, or twenty years from now, what would we be most glad to have spent time doing? We should put the first fruits of our time toward THAT.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to decide what to do with those precious Golden Hours and what can wait until later in the day:
  • What is your creative work? People are made to create, something we can easily forget or ignore in the din of modern life.  Whether it’s writing, art, problem-solving, computer programming, building, or any other form of creativity we are all drawn to some form of creative craft.
  • What are YOUR – not someone else’s – priorities? What will your future self wish that you had done with your time?
  • What work do you do each day that is reactionary? For me, that would include answering emails and texts, housework, administrative work, and phone calls. What is your reactionary work?

This idea of Golden Hours has me thinking about how I can move more creative time into the early morning hours. I know that writing, for me, is much more productive in the morning. In the afternoon I am more likely to spend time ruminating on the mental build-up of the day.

This also means that I’ll need to move some tasks OUT of the morning. Email will have to wait until at least 10 AM. Ditto with housework. And, although I have typically exercised in the morning, I’ll be moving that to later in the day too.

What about you? Are you thinking about routines this time of year? Does the idea of “Golden Hours” resonate with you? Leave a comment and let me know!


  1. This topic is right up my alley, this first week of back to school. I feel if I don’t give each day some direction, I end up just spinning my wheels! I am going to have to give some thought to what my “golden tasks” will be. Thanks

    1. Thanks for reading, Julie! I hope your school year is off to a good start. We miss seeing you guys!

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