We've heard all the stories before. The mega-successful wake up at dawn every day, conquering the world many times over, while everyone else is still fumbling around in the kitchen for a coffee filter.
I've developed some great morning routines too, but what about the other times of day? Don't they play equally important roles as well?
For example, what are successful people doing right before they go to bed? Well, for starters, they're not binge-watching "Shark Tank" until 3 a.m. -- they're setting themselves up to have a more productive day.
Here are some proven ways to rev up success before catching some Z's.
Strolls by the moonlight
The ever-busy CEO of Buffer, Joel Gascoigne, has adopted a routine of nighttime walks to decompress. He turns off his thoughts about work, and slowly but surely gets himself into a "state of tiredness."
If you're a busy person who's always on the go, you can benefit from a similar nighttime stroll. So leave the iPhone at home and focus on relaxing thoughts for a more productive tomorrow.
Despite her status as a new media giant, Arianna Huffington is a huge advocate of unplugging. It's not hard to see why.
On one occasion, after passing out from exhaustion, she got five stiches to her head. Like so many of us who have an unexpected visit to the emergency room, she found herself reevaluating her life. She ended up banning electronics from the bedroom, and has managed to steer clear of ambulances ever since.
You can avoid the stress of the email inbox by doing the same. Unplug everything besides your alarm clock, and watch the tension recede.
Unplugging is also a key to a good night's sleep. Harvard researchers have found that the bright light of a smartphone tricks our bodies into thinking its daytime. Eliminating electronics, on the other hand, did exactly the opposite.
Sleep hygiene is about more than just making your bed.
The National Sleep Foundation has laid out an extensive sleep hygiene routine to ensure extreme slumber. Essentials include a comfy bed, a relatively cool room, and--most importantly--giving yourself at least an hour to unwind before you actually doze off.
No matter how busy your schedule is, prioritize yourself, and avoid burnout by making sure you have enough time to unwind at night. The uber-successful always do this.
It doesn't hurt to invest in some nice pillows, too.
Take a page from Bill Gates. He found great success by reading for one hour every night, no matter what.
Besides the obvious benefit of gaining new knowledge, it's also a great way to wind down. One study found that reading for just six minutes reduced stress by 68 percent.
"The president's day actually starts the day before."
This comes from Michael Lewis' Vanity Fair profile of President Obama. The president spends the evening reviewing schedules and briefs for the coming day, and you can avoid the morning scramble by laying out clear goals and priorities for tomorrow.
You'll reduce your anxiety, and you'll rest easy knowing you already have your ducks in a row.
The greatest writers don't search for the perfect ending to a chapter before saying "goodnight." They boost their productivity by ending smack dab in the middle of a thought or sentence.
"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next," Ernst Hemmingway once said. "If you do that every day... you will never be stuck."
If you're doing something creative, this is a perfect way to set up a pattern of success. End in the middle of a high note, and you'll never scramble for new ideas. I'm always amazed by the new solutions that pop up as soon as my alarm goes off.
It might not seem like it, but one of the best times to learn is after a long and exhausting day.
Josh Waitzkin, author of "The Art Of Learning," recommends the end of a tiring day to learn new and complicated concepts. This is because your subconscious processes that fresh information while you're sleeping.
Every genius, from Salvador Dali to Albert Einstein, used nap time to foster new insights and learning. But even if you aren't redefining physics, learn something new while winding down.
Write your stress away
Come bedtime, our minds often get sucked into the unresolved-problem wormhole. If there was anything that could do a better job of turning me into a sleep-deprived mess, I don't know what it is. That's why Brian Scudamore, CEO and founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, writes all of his worries down on a piece of paper before bed.
If giving this bit of advice the side-eye, think again--science backs him up. Writing down our problems reduces open "loops" of bad thoughts, and washes away anxiety.
The vital question
Benjamin Franklin's nighttime routine included one very important question--"What good have I done today?"
If you do, you should also ask Franklin's question before bed. It ends the day on a high note with positive thoughts, and sets new goals to reach for in the morning.