How you start each day can set the tone for the rest of the day. It is easy to press the snooze button and just stay in bed. Some people may even skip breakfast, rush to get out the door, and arrive to work right on time or even late. Many times in these cases, however, the rest of your day feels chaotic with the need to play catch-up all day long. Many successful people claim that developing a good morning routine is key to their success and that by setting up a structured morning routine, it helps set the mood and gives a sense of calmness for the remainder of the day.
In the book, The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod suggests you should habit stack six habits – silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing (writing) to help you stay focused with more energy and motivation. By habit stacking, he means you can do some of these at the same time – for example exercising and affirmations. He says, “How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life.”
He also says, “If you’re just snoozing every day until the last possible moment you have to head off to work, show up for school, or take care of your family, and then coming home and zoning out in front of the television until you go to bed (this used to be my daily routine), I’ve got to ask you: When are you going to develop yourself into the person you need to be to create the levels of health, wealth, happiness, success, and freedom that you truly want and deserve? When are you going to actually live your life instead of numbly going through the motions looking for every possible distraction to escape reality? What if your reality—your life—could finally be something that you can’t wait to be conscious for?”
Here are some best practices from successful people which may help you find your perfect routine to help you become more productive:
1. Be an Early Riser
Many successful people rise early to do a variety of activities to help them start their day. Whatever morning habits you choose to make the most of your day, schedule your time wisely by waking up earlier. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, states, “No matter where I am in the world, I try to routinely wake up at around 5 a.m. By rising early, I’m able to do some exercise and spend time with my family, which puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.”
2. Eat Breakfast
You may have heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Experts say that breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, gives you the energy you need to get things done, and helps you focus at work or at school. You may say that you aren’t hungry in the morning, but once you start the routine, your body will adjust to it.
3. Drink Water
Drinking water first thing in the morning can help hydration, increase metabolism, and fuel your brain according to nutritionist and author, Rania Batayneh. Kat Cole, who is group president of FOCUS Brands, which owns Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, and Cinnabon drinks 24 ounces of water every morning. Arianna Huffington starts her day with a glass of hot water with lemon.
Many people find that exercising first thing in the morning can help with physical and mental clarity. Research suggests that some of the benefits of exercising in the morning are decreasing blood pressure, burning fat, consuming less calories, and sleeping better at night. It doesn’t have to be a long exercise and can even be as short as 5 minutes a day. You can do basic sit-ups, stretches, jumping jacks, etc. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, does three 7-minute exercises each morning, Richard Branson cycles, Oprah Winfrey walks her dogs, and Mark Zuckerberg goes on a run.
5. Try Positive Self-Talk and Affirmations
The Pacific Institute (the company founded by the now deceased Lou Tice) describes affirmations as positive, emotionally charged, present-tense statements describing a desired end-result. They are what you want to be and do – not what you don’t want or are trying to change. Even if you don’t use affirmations, try positive self-talk about what you need to do and what you would like to achieve for the day. Denzel Washington attributed affirmations to helping him stop drinking and his success. Jennifer Lopez says that they help her think positive and stay strong through tough times. Your self-talk could be as simple as in the movie Jerry McGuire, an inspirational character Dicky Fox says, “I love getting up in the mornings. I clap my hands and say, ‘This is going to be a great day!’” The habit of speaking positively to yourself can make you a more positive person to others as well.
6. Start Meditating
Whether it is through guided meditations or through your own meditations, many successful people do this each morning to help reduce stress and increase calmness. Even meditating five minutes a day can help ease your thoughts. A number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google and Apple offer meditation classes for employees. Many top executives have implemented meditation in their lives such as Arianna Huffington, Bob Stiller of Green Mountain Coffee, and Bill Ford of Ford Motor Company.
7. Set Goals for the Next Day
When you set your goals or form a to-do list for the next day, you can clear your mind for what you have to do. Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank says, “Before I go to sleep, I write down three things that I have to get done the next morning before I take a call, write a text or an email, or talk to anyone else except my family. What I found was once you get those three things done, the rest of your day becomes amazingly productive.” Setting a good morning routine could be something you could add to your personal goals to help you achieve your business goals.
8. Do the Hardest Thing First
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What he means is that by doing the hardest thing first when you get in the office, everything else will be a breeze. Also, early in the morning is the best time to do the work that requires your full attention as less interruptions occur from others. According to Gina Trapani of Lifehacker.com, she says that you should knock out the most important thing on your to-do list and get rid of that item which you are most likely to procrastinate on.
There are many morning routines of successful people and they are not all the same. In a commencement address to Stanford, Steve Jobs stated “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Regardless of what routine or practice you choose, you should come up with your own morning routine and allow enough time to find what suits you the most and what will make you the most successful.
Author: Kimberley Kay Travis
Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles.
She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.