It’s no secret that many people are more productive in the morning. So it should come as no surprise that successful people have honed in on their morning routines to maximize the start of their days. They know that how they spend the first few hours of their day will have a monumental impact on the success of their professional life, personal goals, and mental well-being.
It’s important to note that not everybody’s definition of success looks the same. For this blog in particular, we’ll be looking at CEOs and business founders. Similarly, not everyone’s morning routine looks the same, but research has revealed that there are a few common morning habits among the productivity elite. Even if you have no grand plans to start your own business, try incorporating some of these habits into your wake-up routine and see if success follows.
1. They actually have a routine.
This one is easy to overlook, but it’s important to note. Making sure that you have a routine, or a “collection of habits or actions you do on a regular basis to bring order to your day,” is the first step in optimizing your mornings. Why? Because consistency helps you save time and effort, and it allows you to incorporate new habits into your day more seamlessly. Think of Apple founder Steve Jobs who was known for wearing the same outfits every day to combat “decision fatigue.” While we’re not suggesting you go buy seven identical black turtlenecks, we are suggesting that there’s something powerful in consistency. When it comes to daily routines, your subconscious mind can “either work for or against you.” Creating a few simple steps to follow each morning enables you to save precious mental energy to do more important things later in your day. For more info on the importance of morning routines, as well as a guide on how to become a morning person, click here.
2. They wake up early.
A lot of you probably expected (and possibly even dreaded) this one, but it’s scientifically proven that that early risers have healthier routines, cope with stress better, and are more productive with their days. But don’t go setting your alarm just yet. It’s all about finding a time that will give more room for a productive morning while still making you feel well-rested. For example, Eilliot Weissbluth, founder and CEO of HighTower, wakes up between 4am and 4:30am in order to fit in a workout and set an intention for the day. In contrast, Alexi Nazem, founder of Nomad Health, finds that waking up by 7am usually gives him enough time to start his day right. Nailed waking up early, but aren’t sure what to do with the extra time? Here’s a pros and cons list of 10 morning activities. The one thing most CEOs have in common is that they don’t fall out of bed and rush into the office. They set aside time to workout, get up to date with world news, or set personal goals so that when it’s time to get up and go, they feel refreshed and ready. It might feel odd getting up early and seeing the world when it’s so quiet, but as it turns out — that’s a good thing, too.
3. They take advantage of the quiet.
Many founders and CEOs know that the morning is the only time they’ll be free from distraction. Rather than dive head first into their busy days, they make sure to spend a few moments practicing silence, mindfulness, or gratitude. That’s because dedicating a few moments to a quiet and calming activity can boost your mood, reduce stress, and help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. Successful people like Oprah Winfrey and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff swear by their daily meditation practice to help them stay on top of their empires, while Tyler Haney, the CEO of Outdoor Voices, performs 30 “grateful breaths” as soon as she wakes up. Our co-founders spent a week meditating, and even recorded a podcast about it! Whether you have a more rigid or more free-form approach, it’s in your power to set some time aside and relish a few moments of silence through yoga, reading, or meditation, which can act as a mental journal.
4. They keep some kind of journal.
It’s also important to keep an actual journal. Former CEO and current CEO advisor Dan Ciampa encourages all CEOs to keep a journal, saying that “A personal journal should be part of any leader’s toolkit.” Ciampa believes what science has proven, that journaling in all its forms can lead to enhanced intention, better organization, and improved demeanor, attitude, and judgement. Not sure where to start? Try gratitude journaling by following our extensive guide. Although it can feel burdensome to drag out a notebook and pen (especially in the morning), keeping one by your bed or on your desk will encourage you to fill those pages before you’re even out of bed. Or maybe before your first coffee. Before noon, at least, depending on how important it is to you…
5. They front-load their days with what’s most important.
Figuring out what’s important to you is only half the battle. Properly prioritizing and completing these tasks is the other half. However, CEOs and founders have mastered this art. To some, health and exercise come first. Whitney Wolfe, founder and CEO of Bumble, told Entrepreneur “I have a yoga mat and a huge bottle of water next to my bed so when I get up, I drink that and then try to stretch and do some form of a morning workout. I do my best to avoid the direct-to-phone dive, because once that starts it’s nearly impossible to escape.” Our co-founders took this to heart and tried ditching their smartphones for a week. Others, specifically those in the finance sector, start their day by checking the news and their email because it’s important they stay in-the-know (see our guide to keeping your inbox clear). Think about what you prioritize in the morning, both consciously and unconsciously. What comes first? News or entertainment? Exercise or sleeping in? A cup of black coffee or a large, satisfying breakfast? Whatever it is, ask yourself if that’s really how you want to start your day, or if there’s something more important pressing.
Starting your day off right isn’t rocket science — it’s psychology! By optimizing your morning routine with meaningful and intentional habits, you can manifest your success in the same ways that the world’s CEO’s do. Don’t just set your sights on having a successful morning, though. Your routine is meant to build momentum towards larger goals, which — if you set them correctly — you’ll accomplish in no time. It can seem overwhelming to incorporate all of these tips and tricks into your morning routine, but we believe that positive changes, no matter how small, can make a big impact. Just adding one of these habits into your morning routine will get you going in the right direction. Want to learn more about setting and accomplishing goals? Check out our blog post on the Five Step Goal Setting Process.
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