It’s 7:15am. This will be the last time hitting that snooze button, you tell yourself. Fast-forward twenty minutes and you’re out of the door, a bleary-eyed, dishevelled mess running for that bus that will take you to the office on time. You’re getting used to feeling famished in the morning, having skipped breakfast 4 mornings in a row. Not surprisingly, the rest of the day turns out to be as disastrous as the morning – messy, stressful and wholly unproductive. It’ll better tomorrow, you tell yourself.
And it can be.
Many successful entrepreneurs, creatives and thought leaders attribute a huge part of their success to their morning routines, and it’s no surprise they do. A well-crafted, consistent routine gives your morning structure. It eliminates many nitty-gritty, willpower-sucking decisions you find yourself making each morning, helps you build healthy habits, and sets the tone for a focused, productive day ahead.
However, optimal morning routines differ greatly among people, and it takes some time and effort to find out what works best for you. To get you started on building that morning routine, here’s 5 activities successful people do to start each day with vim and vigour.
Get Up Early!
Give that worn-out snooze button a break; waking early could be the missing ingredient in your secret recipe for world domination. Many of the movers and shakers of this world are early birds. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is known for starting his day at 4:30am to walk his dogs and work out, and Proctor & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley wakes up between 5 and 5:30am each morning to have a good breakfast before heading to work. Such hours might be beyond many of us, but setting the alarm just fifteen minutes early would allow you to squeeze in a light workout or prepare a hearty breakfast, which will do wonders for your energy and stress levels.
Work Up A Sweat.
Time to lace up those trainers – morning workouts could be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Its staunch advocates report improved mood, reduced stress levels and an instant energy boost that lasts throughout the day. It’s no wonder many insanely successful people cannot live without it. U.S. President Barack Obama starts each day with 45 minutes of either weights or cardio in his personal gym, believing that “the rest of my time will be more productive if you give me my workout time”. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour plays tennis for an hour each day before heading for her daily salon appointment, and former Starbucks President Michelle Gass starts her day with a run.
Plan, Strategize, Prioritize.
Crafting a clear, realistic to-do list each morning keeps you organized and productive throughout the day; it helps you identify your priorities, track task progress, and saves time by allocating tasks to be completed in the most effective manner. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, famously asked himself each morning, “What good shall I do this day?” His morning routine included “contriving the day’s business”, or planning the day’s activities in modern-speak, before having his breakfast and starting on the aforementioned business.
Eat That Frog.
Mark Twain once quoted, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first”. Now before you cringe at the thought of munching on those adorable amphibians, he meant working on your biggest task first, every single day. This frog varies for different people; it could be that big, lumbering task that has been stressing you out for days, or the task that would deliver the greatest value to you or your organization. It could also be both.
Eating the frog first thing in the morning when distractions are minimal and energy levels are at their peak ensures the best chances of success, and getting it out of the way makes the rest of the day a breeze in comparison. Lifehacker co-founder Gina Trapani is a believer; in an article for Fast Company, she suggested setting yourself up to eat next morning’s frog the night before, by first choosing it, then writing it someplace visible and setting up the materials required to get it done.
The logic behind this is simple: checking your email first thing in the morning forces you to be reactive to the needs of your colleagues and clients, and takes away precious energy that could be spent on crafting your to-do list or eating your frogs. Chances are that the rest of your day will be spent in a blur of stress and anxiety, battling that endless flurry of emails while your most important work is left untouched.
Tumblr CEO David Karp is an avid practitioner of this approach; in an interview with Inc. Magazine, he admitted to not checking his email before he reaches the office at 9:30 to 10 in the morning, explaining that “reading emails at home never feels good or productive”.
When it comes to morning routines, there’s no one-size-fits-all. It might take a fair amount of trial and error before stumbling on something that works, but when you do, there’s no looking back.
Have a morning routine that leaves you fresh and energized throughout the day? Let us know in the comments!