During the course of my career, I've alternated from being a night owl to a morning person. In the most recent years, I even got up at 3 a.m. to juggle entrepreneurial and personal passions. How you start your day does matter, particularly if you are the one setting the pace.

One of the biggest lessons we can learn is how not to start our day. Are things not coming together? One of these early morning errors could be the culprit. I know I'm still learning the hard way.

1. Drinking coffee: This is a tough one. While nothing beats the smell of coffee in the morning, your body actually doesn't need coffee until several hours after you wake up. As I shared in a recent article, "Your body begins pumping cortisol when you wake up in the morning, kind of like a smelling salt to help you rise and shine. The boost happens between 8 and 9 a.m., followed by other boosts midday and in the late afternoon. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is like adding lighter fluid to an already-growing fire: You quickly burn extra bright and burn out just as fast."

2. Not making the bed: I'm guilty as charged. According to the military strategist who stopped Osama bin Laden, it's the most important thing you'll do all day. "If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed," Admiral William H. McRaven says.

3. Grabbing the smartphone: It took me a while to stop doing this one. A third of us get on our smartphone before we speak to the person we're sharing our bed with, but jumping immediately onto social media or, worse, email isn't a good way to start the day. First, you're still trying to wake up--not the best time to react to business opportunities! Personally, I've done from-the-hip emails in bed and later regretted my responses. Second, any online activity can be a serious timesuck, keeping you from really starting your day. Some of today's most successful entrepreneurs check email only a few times a week, so most discussions can be saved until after you actually get out of your pajamas.

For me, a brief meditation and a very light snack usually get me in the right mindset. What morning routine keeps you on your toes? 

Published on: Dec 14, 2015