How you start your day sets the tone for the rest it. It's why people who consistently achieve the most in life are intentional about when they get out of bed and what they do in their first waking minutes. Here are the morning rituals more than a dozen highly successful people rely on every day.
1. Hydrate, exercise and meditate.
"My alarm goes off at 6 a.m. I drink lemon water and do a 30-minute workout to fire up the system. My friend and professor of Neural Science and Psychology at NYU, Wendy Suzuki, talks about the benefits of exercise on the brain. I'm helping myself be more focused and productive at work by taking care of myself physically. I spend my commute catching up on emails, reading the daily news or listening to a podcast, and generally getting my mind set to tackle the day. If I don't have time to meditate right when I wake up, I'll take several minutes on the bus to do my practice which keeps me balanced and focused. The book, 10% Happier by Dan Harris talks about the benefits of meditation without delving into the spiritual aspects. In practical terms, it helps you at work in many ways."
--Brian Hathaway, director of business development at digital agency Ready Set Rocket
2. Pray with gratitude.
"I try to start my day, immediately upon waking, with brief meditative prayer. Before I get out of bed I think about things to be grateful for and try to center my day. Some days I'm successful, others just sleepy. I usually do a quick survey of news on my phone--CNN, NY Times, ESPN -- and then I watch Morning Joe as I get ready. A cup of coffee and occasionally Greek yogurt and I'm off. When I'm traveling, I almost always work out in the morning at the hotel, since I know I won't have any time later."
--Tom Cove, president and CEO of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA)
3. Be the first person in the office.
"My daily routine involves waking up at the crack of dawn and being the first in the office around 6:30 to 7:00 a.m., that's when I get the most work done. Coming in before anyone else is in the office makes me more productive. I've found that for me, working one hour alone is equal to two hours in the office with people because there are no distractions and no one pulling you."
--Ron Ben-Zev, founder and CEO of World Housing Solution, a provider of expeditionary structures for the U.S. Military
4. Do dreaded tasks first.
"For me, the best days get off to an early start. The earlier, the better actually. My top tip for a really productive day? Kick things off by doing a few tasks you don't want to do. It may sound counterintuitive, but by doing them first, you get them out of your way when you're at your most dynamic, and the rest of the day is sure to sail along much smoother."
--Jure Prek, CEO of Outfit7, a mobile publisher known for the Talking Tom and Friends franchise
5. Huddle with the team.
"We have all of our staff arrive 15 minutes before their shift starts. In this time frame, we try to get together for a quick morning huddle where we discuss the day, the schedule, any potential challenges we anticipate, and set daily goals for the staff to work together to achieve. For example, one of the goals can be to get four new members, or to highlight one of our retail products. One initiative that my business partner, Eric, has helped me incorporate recently is also adding a short educational component to the morning huddles. For example, this can be discussing the aftercare for one of our services, the best products to use, or quiz the staff which keeps everyone engaged and on their toes."
--Diane Gillin, co-owner and advanced nurse practitioner, Couture Med Spa, a luxury affordable medical spa
6. Hit the gym.
"When people have the opportunity to wake up early and start their day at the gym, they should definitely take advantage of it. Not only does it give me energy to power through morning meetings, but it also helps start my day off on the right foot. After waking up at 5 a.m. and hitting the gym, I come home and make breakfast for my wife and kids. Any business owner knows how finding time in the day can be tough, so spending mornings with my family is a special time for us to be together and motivates me for the day."
--James Miceli, CEO of Epoch Lacrosse/C6 Composites which builds technologically advanced lacrosse equipment
7. Take advantage of a new beginning.
"The morning is my favorite time of day, no alarm necessary! It is always so peaceful and a time of new beginnings. I love getting up early with my dog before the crack of dawn to take the time to refresh and recharge my soul with prayer and to organize my thoughts and day ahead. We get the coffee made, water the garden and enjoy this peaceful time together before the busy day begins. Owning a business with my husband it is necessary to connect with him early in the day and to start the morning to-do list. All these things motivate and help prepare me for the day ahead and bring clarity amongst the chaos any day can bring."
--Sandra Wagner, director of strategic development at Nature's Table, a health-conscious fast casual dining concept with more than 70 locations across the United States
8. Wake up gently and play a morning song.
"Waking up with a calm and clear mind is essential for a successful day, so I have my Amazon Alexa wake me by slowly turning my lights on, then by ambient noise, so I'm never suddenly jarred awake. Next, I open an app that is essentially my right hand: Evernote. I jot down any ideas I may have woken up with while I play a routine morning song. Currently on morning repeat are 'Marry You' by Bruno Mars and 'Hello Good Morning' by Diddy/Dirty Money. The morning song gets me pumped up and started with a great attitude. Then I visualize what not only what I have to do for the day, but what I want to do. It's important to plan to do things you want versus have to do, because those moments bring you joy and a true sense of accomplishment. Additionally, I always add at least one task that involves nothing about my projects, and everything about helping another coworker. Then, I catch up on all of the industry news for the day. Current favorites are Mashable, Inc. and Adweek. Finally, I take a moment to pause and breathe for a few minutes. Making sure I'm in the right mindset for the day can set the entire tone of the day, and even the week."
--Anthony Roberts, Jr., marketing manager for Planet Fitness Orlando, a franchise group for the national judgement-free gym operating more than 30 clubs
9. Use scents to jumpstart your day.
"As a professional in the fragrance field, I have always found scent to be a very powerful way to jumpstart my day. Many people are aware that soothing floral scents such as lavender and chamomile can help you relax and fall asleep. On the flip side of that, there are many scents that can wake you up. Scents have an amazing effect on your brain, they can boost your alertness, focus, and even your productivity. Set your mood for the day by filling your space with a citrus fragrance such as lemon, which energizes the body and decreases anxiety. Other great scents I use to boost my morning routine include peppermint, which is known to increase concentration, and eucalyptus, which is full of productivity-boosting powers. Using scent to set the tone for a productive day makes a huge difference and is a simple task that I use in my personal life as well as recommend to others."
10. Practice Tai Chi.
"I have been practicing Tai Chi every morning for years, and found it very rewarding. Research studies have suggested that practicing Tai Chi can bring many health benefits, both physically and mentally. For me, Tai Chi enables me to start a day with a fresh mind, free of stress, sharp concentration and high energy, so I can excel in meetings and make quick, good decisions throughout the day. Over the years I've developed a unique way to practice that suits me particularly well. I'll practice Tai Chi twice a day for 20 minutes. In the first session, I reset myself to start the day with clean slate and immerse myself with the nature, which brings me freshness, concentration and internal energy of qi. In the subsequent second session, I start thinking about big ideas while doing my Tai Chi movements, such as our company's strategic directions, bold decisions, competitive responses, guiding the internal qi inside myself for better thinking process. Indeed, some of my best ideas came out of this second session!"
--Luke Tang, general manager of the entrepreneurial network TechCode U.S.
11. Exercise and drink a healthy elixir.
"There's never any time left for exercise once my day starts, so I block off 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to completely focus on physical exercise, which recharges me even more than sleep. This routine, coupled with my daily concoction of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, lime and honey, has enabled me to ward off any sickness for 13 years straight now. On average people are sick 8.3 days a year which is a total waste of time when it can be prevented."
--Jesse Moeinifar, CEO and founder of the audience development platform Viafoura
12. Get to the gym by 5 a.m.
"I wake up at 4:45 a.m. during the work week and get to the gym by 5 a.m. I have found that exercising in the morning helps me be much more productive throughout the day. I don't drink coffee so my workout tends to get my body moving first thing. I also workout with a group of guys so the comradery and peer pressure of not showing up is a big motivator to get me out of bed early."
--Wilson McDowell, managing director and principal of corporate real estate firm Cite Partners
13. Listen to an audio book during the drive to work.
"Every morning, I jot down the three most important things that I need to get done that day and think through how I am going to accomplish them during the day. I do this before checking my emails to ensure that I plan my day around the right priorities rather than letting my day be governed solely by reacting to what I find in my inbox. My 30- to 40-minute drive to work in the morning always involves listening to an audiobook. Doing this, rather than listening to music, has enabled me to complete more than 30 amazing books over the last year. Many of which have had a tremendous positive impact on both me and my company."
--Sriram Sridhar, cofounder and CEO of LateShipment.com, a company holding shipping carriers accountable for promised service
14. Carve out 30 minutes without technology.
"Being a business owner is incredibly rewarding, but also requires me to be available 24/7. That's why I carve out 30 minutes every morning to sit quietly with a cup of hot lemon water and set my intention for the day. No iPhone or email either--just my thoughts, a pen and my favorite Muji journal. I've also stopped trying to cram in 25 daily tasks and instead focus on three meaningful goals that can be related to business, family, health or social good. It's so gratifying to cross them off my list and gives me a small sense of accomplishment every single day."
--Lara Little, founder and CEO of luxury sleepware company Lusomé