I can personally attest to the fact that a productive day starts first thing in the morning.
I know, mornings aren't always easy, and some days we're lucky if we can get out the door in a state one notch better than "hot mess." But there are ways to make your morning better while taking your productivity to the next level.
I've sourced some ideas for how to do this from the best entrepreneurs. Hopefully, the routines that have worked so well for them will rub off on you and become habits.
Don't take anything for granted
A day that starts off with a negative perspective is unlikely to be a great one, or even a good one. That's why celebrity life coach Tony Robbins suggests a morning "Hour of Power" or "Fifteen Minutes to Thrive."
A big part of this involves thinking about what you're grateful for. This can include family, friends, career, anything you wouldn't want to take for granted. Then visualize "everything you want in your life as if you had it today."
As much as we sometimes hate to admit it, mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and successful CEOs from Branson to Zuckerberg have all sung its praises and said that a big breakfast benefits them throughout the day.
There's a glut of science backing them up. Breakfast does everything from boost your mental power to getting you in better shape.
The naysayers all say, "I'm too tired!" Well, breakfast wakes you up, while not eating anything does the exact opposite. And for those who cry in protest that there isn't enough time to make a big breakfast in the morning. You can always do it the night before. I do.
Om... om... om...
Many successful entrepreneurs have touted the benefits of meditation. The names include Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey, and even Hillary Clinton found her Zen during her marathon 11-hour Benghazi hearing.
Meditating is a great way to clear your head, so that you can tackle anything and everything the workday throws at you. And it does everything from making you happier to boosting your health.
If you don't have enough time to emulate the principles laid out by Bodhidharma in "Lankavatara Sutra," consider a pseudo-meditation by scheduling some morning "me" time without cell phones, Twitter or even, god forbid, this column. And instead of taking a crowded subway, take some extra time and walk to work. Your head will thank you for the much-needed headspace.
Get your sweat on
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey jogs six miles every morning. Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at five o'clock in the morning to get sweaty. You don't have to do exactly what they do, but you should really consider some sort of morning workout.
You obviously know that exercise is great for you, but what you might not know is that exerting yourself will actually leave you feeling more energized and awake. Just make sure you schedule your workouts for the morning, so that they actually happen. Exercising before you go to work means you won't put it off because of projects pilling up.
Inspiration will do more to get you out of bed than the most heavily caffeinated Starbucks product ever will. Even when I'm sleep deprived, thinking about the change I'll make that day through LexION Capital gets me all amped up.
Look no further than the late Steve Jobs. He famously said that he looked in the mirror every morning and asked himself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"
You don't have to reinvent the computer. Just take five minutes or so every day to think about the things you can accomplish that day.
The key to waking up happy is trying to make other people happy. Broadcasting Happiness author Michelle Gielan suggested sending one or two quick "thank you" emails in the morning as a way of making this happen.
"That activates people in your network in a meaningful way that strengthens bonds," she said.
This isn't only a productive use of time. It's a good practice generally. I always make an effort to say something kind to my team in the morning, and you should too.
Get that worm
Is a key to success waking up fifteen minutes before work and stumbling in while out of breath? Not just no, but hell no.
The most successful people take their mornings a step further by waking up very early. But First Lady Michelle Obama found even greater success when she realized that she needed to see herself as someone worth making time for.
"If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I'd get up and do that," she said. "But when it comes to yourself, then suddenly, 'Oh, I can't get up at 4:30.' So I had to change that."
Even if your work doesn't start early, take the time and generate the willpower to stay away from the snooze button. Finding the time to take care of yourself in the morning is well worth the investment.