For many, morning is the most dreaded time of the workday, but it’s also often the best for productivity. What you do in those precious morning hours not only affects the rest of your day, but can also have a great impact on whether or not you’re successful in your career.
Here are five tips from the morning routines of successful entrepreneurs that you can incorporate to make your mornings more effective and productive.
- Make a list and check it twice.
The key to a productive morning is getting a head start the night before. Before you retire for the night, compile a to-do list for the following day and be sure to prioritize it. In doing so, you will have a better idea of what is expected for the day and you can add or check tasks off as needed. For many professionals, having a visual snapshot of their day helps them plan and prioritize their day more efficiently, as opposed to winging it.
International business speaker and author Michael Kerr says jotting down “a list of any unattended items to address the following day” can prevent those thoughts from “invading [your] head space during the night,” according to Inc. Magazine. Therefore, do as American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault does and, before bed, write down three things you wish to accomplish the next day so your intentions are clear when you rise and shine the following day.
- Early bird gets the worm.
If there’s one thing most successful professionals and entrepreneurs have in common, it’s that they tend to wake up early, usually around 5:30 a.m. Early morning is when willpower is at its highest, according to Fast Company.
A study on self-control conducted by the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore found there to be “a significant effect of ego depletion on self-control task performance.” More specifically, there was a “significant effect sizes were found for ego depletion on effort, perceived difficulty, negative affect, subjective fatigue, and blood glucose levels.”
As the day goes on, your willpower or desire to complete meaningful tasks depletes — because willpower is finite. “We can look at willpower like a muscle—it can get exhausted by overuse,” per Buffer. Therefore, if you want to strengthen your willpower (and your chances at success), then it’s best to rise and shine early and tackle your most meaningful and significant task first thing in the morning.
- Eat a well-balanced breakfast.
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so be sure not to skip this essential part of your morning. Eating a well-balanced breakfast not only curbs your appetite until lunchtime rolls around, but, more importantly, studies show that breakfast helps improve your performance, maintain healthy skin, prevent weight gain, boost your energy, and even increases happiness, reports Harris School of Business.
Want to know what some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs eat for breakfast? Richard Branson fancies a simple breakfast of fruit salad and muesli, while Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey opts for an even more modest breakfast of two hard-boiled eggs with soy sauce, according to Entrepreneur. Brad Lande, Head of Birchbox Man, claims to sip hot water and lemon, followed by a vitamin- and nutrient-rich smoothie. As for Mark Zuckerberg, he says he eats “whatever.” I guess there’s always one or two out of the bunch who go against the grain and make it … big time.
- Create consistency to simplify your morning/day.
You have enough unknown variables to worry about throughout the day, your morning routine shouldn’t be one of them. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has successfully found his own solution to one of the most daunting “unknowns” in one’s morning routine: choosing an outfit — and he’s become pretty infamous for it, too.
What’s his solution? He wears the same outfit every day that consists of a gray T-shirt and jeans, explaining that he wants “to clear [his] life to make it so that [he has] to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” reports Business Insider. Although you may not be able to get away with wearing the same outfit every single day, you can eliminate the frustration of picking out an outfit in the morning by taking care of it the night before.
- Exercise and/or meditate.
For many, getting in a good workout or meditation session first thing in the morning is crucial to starting the day off right — however, that’s easier said than done for working parents. Typically, little ones wake up at the crack of dawn, whether parents like it or not. Benita Singh, CEO and co-founder of Le Souk, has found a brilliant solution to getting in a morning run and spending quality time with her 1-year-old daughter before the workday even begins.
After waking up at 5:30 a.m. on the dot every morning, Singh plays with her daughter for about 2.5 hours before heading out around 7 a.m. to run “5 miles around Central Park — all while pushing a stroller.” Singh says, “Running 5 miles around the park while pushing a jogging stroller really makes you feel like you can do anything.”
Tell Us What You Think
Do you have a morning routine worth touting about? Share your morning ritual with our community on Twitter and see if you can’t help someone else get a head start on their workday. Feel free to leave your comment below, too.