A person has better self-control and greater willpower just after waking up, a fact that is supported by science. Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore reviewed 83 different studies on self-control and discovered humans have a finite amount of self-control. Shortly after waking up for the day, self-control, and subsequently the ability to get work done, is at its greatest, and this ability is slowly depleted during the day as both psychological and physiological fatigue sets in. Therefore, it is important to take advantage of early morning productivity. A full night's rest and a healthy breakfast are a crucial part of any routine, but the morning rituals of successful people set them apart from the average person in the way they make those hours count. Here are a few ways successful people start their day.

1. Exercise.

Exercise has the power to make both the mind and body feel healthy. A person who works out regularly will have more energy than one who does not, and exercise and other physical activities release endorphins, otherwise known as the brain's feel-good transmitters. The release of endorphins decreases stress, allowing a person to start the day rejuvenated, energetic, and with a clear mind. It is for this reason Jamie Walker, co-founder and CEO of Fit Approach and SweatGuru, starts her day with a good workout. She says exercise allows her to begin her day "on a refreshed and calm note."

2. Planning and strategy.

Creating a plan of attack allows a person to be more efficient during their day. This could include making a to-do list, or a list of larger accomplishments that a person hopes to tackle that day. For example, Donna David, president of Donna David Company, sets aside 15 minutes every morning to organize her day and determine three things she wishes to accomplish, such as networking, or improving her business plan.

3. Do the hardest task first.

Mark Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." Some interpretations of this quote suggest that what Twain really meant was do the hardest task first. By doing so, not only is a person tackling the most difficult task when he has the most energy and willpower, but everything after that seems easy. It boosts confidence early in the morning, and if it is done right away, a person doesn't have to dread it for the rest of the day.

4. Motivate.

One of the first things Steve Jobs did every morning was look in the mirror and ask himself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" He said, "And whenever the answer had been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." Motivation can help a person keep his goals in perspective, to make sure he really is on the right track, but it can also give him the power he needs to tackle the day.

It doesn't have to be a question asked every morning. Even successful people listen to motivational speeches or read self-help books.

5. Pursue a hobby.

Successful people understand the importance of 'me' time. Personal passions and hobbies often fall by the wayside when there are dozens of other things deemed more important to do. Making time for them in the morning is the best way to get them done. Pursuing a hobby is also a way for successful people to collect themselves and to take care of their needs. For example, Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, does Yoga every morning to not only take time for himself, but to collect himself before tackling a hectic schedule.

A healthy breakfast and plenty of sleep are important for any person, but what separates successful people from others is that they take advantage of their morning hours when they are at their most productive. Solid morning rituals are the start to a good day, and it all starts with waking up early.

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Published on: May 28, 2015
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