Some people dread the morning alarm clock because it signals the start of another day of drudgery. However, for many of the most successful people, the alarm clock signals the beginning of another day of opportunity. High achievers use these morning hours to their advantage, following a morning routine that sets their day up for success.
To lay the groundwork for a more fulfilling life, try starting your day off the way truly successful people do. How many of these morning habits can you include in your daily routine? Even a small change can have a big impact on the success of your day, generating a momentum that can carry you into a pattern of success.
- Wake up early.
Executives polled by the World Economic Forum varied in their interpretation of “early,” but one thing was consistent: 6 am isn’t early enough. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, is up at 4:30 to read, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright got up at 4 am, and Margaret Thatcher regularly set her clock for 5 am. Studies have shown that people who rise early are more productive and generally experience higher levels of personal satisfaction.
- Skip the coffee.
Particularly if you’re getting up at o’dark thirty, the urge to head straight for a caffeine jolt might be strong. However, you should avoid relying on coffee to wake you up. Experts say that reaching for a glass of water may actually improve your daily productivity. Water can also help you be more alert, jumpstart your metabolism, and rehydrate your body quickly.
- Lace up your running shoes.
Exercising before you start your day ensures that this chore doesn’t fall off your to-do list as the day progresses. Additionally, morning workouts have been proven to give exercisers an extra boost of energy, reduce stress, and even improve sleep. As an added bonus, this habit can offset the effects of a high-fat diet, improve your heart health, and make a positive impact on your overall health.
- Spend quality time with your family.
Numerous studies have stressed the importance of family togetherness at mealtime. While many people find dinnertime is the most convenient opportunity for everyone to sit down together, breakfast is actually a great time to get everyone to the table. Before the day (and its busy schedule) takes over, starting the day with a few moments of family connectedness can give everyone a feeling of well-being that will carry them throughout the day.
- Grab a spoon.
Breakfast is still considered the most important meal of the day, but finding time to give your body the fuel it needs can be tough, particularly for busy leaders. Committing to eating a healthy breakfast is important, and it doesn’t have to be complicated: Richard Branson prefers a bowl of fruit with muesli, and John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods, enjoys a green breakfast smoothie. Whatever your breakfast choice, you need to carve out time for proper nourishment.
- Make your bed.
Turns out, your mom was right: making your bed actually IS important. Pulling the covers up neatly has an effect on the brain and leads to greater productivity and success. When you make your bed, you feel a sense of accomplishment and signal to yourself that the day has started.
- Take a coffee break.
By the time most people are just rolling out of bed, you’ve already accomplished a lot. This is the perfect opportunity for some pre-work networking at the corner coffee shop. Particularly if you opted for water as your morning beverage of choice, meeting with colleagues or business contacts for early coffee allows you the pleasure of a cup of coffee with a side benefit of getting work done.
- Make a to-do list.
Take a few moments every day to prioritize what you need to accomplish. Start with the task you are least looking forward to and get it done. By clearing a task that you dread off the list, you free yourself to get the easier items done.
- Clear your e-mail in-box.
Start your day with a clean in-box. Clearing any emails that may have been received after-hours, assigning tasks to others and dealing with any correspondence gives you a jump on the day. Breaking the habit of checking your e-mail constantly through-out the day can also prevent distractions later and keep you focused.
- Focus on a project.
Pre-work hours are a perfect time to focus on projects that require your undivided attention. Take advantage of the quiet hours before co-workers arrive to do the tasks you need to accomplish without interruption.
- Take time to center yourself.
Carving out a few minutes before your day gets underway to meditate can be an important part of success. Spend a few minutes in reflection on the things you’re grateful for. Some people choose to read scripture; others simply allow themselves to be open to inspiration.