How do you start your morning? Do you hit snooze a few times, hoping to catch a few more minutes of rest before the demands of the day take over? Do you check social media? Or maybe you're someone who showers and eats breakfast. How we start our mornings can feel very...routine. Often, we're running on auto-pilot, just going through the motions so we can get on with our day. But what we do in the morning plays a huge role in what we can accomplish.

There's a reason why Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 4am to read email and Michele Obama rises at 4:30 a.m for a workout. A structured morning routine cultivates success. Harvard Biologist Christoph Randler discovered that early risers are more proactive. They're also more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to more success especially in the business world. Having a proactive mindset leads to increased productivity because you're not standing by waiting to be told what to do next or how to handle a challenge. Instead you're anticipating needs, getting curious, and building confidence.

But increased productivity isn't the only bonus to getting up early, you'll also be happier. According to a University of Toronto study, morning people reported higher levels of happiness. Considering the link between happiness and work performance, it's no wonder morning people feel happier than their night owl counterparts.

Ready to start building a morning routine that will catapult your performance? Below are 3 ways to get you started.

Check off the hardest thing on your to-do list first

First thing in the morning is often the quietest. You're not being bombarded with phone calls or meetings. So now's the perfect time to tackle the project that is of most importance to you. You're mental reserves are high, and you'll be most focused. You'll also gain a sense of accomplishment and purpose before 10 a.m.

Exercise first thing

You might have heard this one already, but there's actual science that supports working out in the morning as more than just an easy way to get it over with. According to Harvard Medical School's journal, working out causes your brain to secrete a chemical called neurotrophic factor, which boosts brain function. Exercising in the morning increases your mental and physical stamina, provides energy and boosts motivation, leading to increased overall productivity.

Plan your routine the night before

Often we only discover what we need to do in a day at the end of said day. So why not take this info and use it as ammunition. Before you go to bed, try writing down 3 things that you need to accomplish the next morning. It can be anything - calling your friend to say happy birthday, paying off a bill, or sending project highlights from your latest deal. When you wake up the next morning, make sure you do all 3 of those things before you do anything else. Not only will you feel a great sense of accomplishment, but the rest of the day will be much more productive.