Your morning can dictate the rest of your workday. It's no wonder that so many successful business people follow strict morning routines. What do they do exactly? Ask them how they begin their day, and you will see a consistent pattern. This is not just personal preferences either, as science has backed up most of these behaviors.
Of course, it's not realistic to expect to mimic their ritual every day without fail, but if you want to do your best work and be a more productive person, try to follow these four common morning habits.
1. Wake up early.
Successful people don't sleep in. They wake up early, ready to attack the day. How early? It can range from 4:30 a.m. for Apple CEO Tim Cook to around 5 a.m. for Xerox CEO Ursula Burns to former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley's 5:30 a.m. wake-up call. Early risers have many advantages. They tend to procrastinate less compared with people who stay up late at night, according to a 2008 study published in The Journal of General Psychology.
People who wake up early are also less stressed, because instead of rushing out the door, they take time for themselves and prepare for their day. Not a morning person? Gradually work on waking up early. For instance, wake up 15 minutes earlier for a week and then 20 minutes for the next week, and keep going until you reach your goal wake-up time.
I typically get up, meditate for at least 10 minutes using an app called Headspace, and then give myself time to drink tea, eat breakfast, and catch up on social media. It's the one time of day I can be silent and allow my brain to relax before getting heavy into my day.
2. Get moving.
Top entrepreneurs invest in their health. After all, a healthy body and mind go together. Research is split on whether morning or evening workouts are ideal, yet morning exercise appears to be best for reducing stress by lowering blood pressure, according to a 2011 study by Appalachian State University's Dr. Scott Collier. It also helps you burn more fat throughout the day and lose weight, says a 2015 study done by the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
Many use their mornings for exercise as a way to jump-start their day. Plus, they don't have to worry about squeezing it in later in their busy day. If you need some help, hire a personal trainer or sign up for an early morning boot camp class. (You are more motivated if you make a commitment.)
It doesn't always have to be high-intensity exercise, either. Go for a walk outside or do 30 minutes of yoga. For me, if I don't do something in the morning, my energy level is lower and my stress level is higher throughout the day. This is like "medicine" for me. I do yoga, run, lift weights, or spin each morning, even if I can only get in 15 minutes.
3. Recharge your motivation.
Successful people understand that motivation doesn't last forever and needs to be constantly recharged. Devote time in the morning to reading, meditating, listening to a favorite podcast, reviewing empowering quotes, or writing in a gratitude journal in which you record at least one thing that you are thankful for. Feeding your mind and soul and reflecting on where you are, and where you want to go, can help keep you focused on your larger goals. I love Instagram for this. I find motivating mantras that remind me to stay positive when I most need it.
4. Eat your frog.
Mark Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." In other words, tackle your day's toughest job early when your mental energy is at its highest. Choose only one "frog" of the day and complete it before your normal workday begins. My energy is highest in the morning, so that is when I tackle my biggest projects, but yours may be later in the day. Identify when your energy levels are at their peak in order to "eat your frog."
Every day, you wake up with a new chance to improve and grow. People who have reached the top of their professions understand that how you begin your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Devoting yourself to a simple morning routine builds success for today and the days after.