The first half hour of your morning could set the tone for the rest of the day, so use it wisely. Even if you aren't a morning person, don't waste these early hours and risk being bogged down by unproductivity. Instead, seize the day with a positive attitude and a hearty breakfast so you can tackle your toughest tasks first and keep this productive momentum going.

Five entrepreneurs share their early-morning habits that serve as productivity hacks for the rest of the day.

Meditate for 20 minutes.

A positive mindset is invaluable when it comes to productivity, so meditating before work is a great way to get focused. Darrah Brustein, founder of networking event organization Network Under 40, finds that dedicating just 20 minutes of her morning to this exercise pays dividends throughout the day.

"Doing this before anything else has helped me work with more stamina, react better to stressors and be a better problem solver and team leader throughout the day," she says. "Taking time to be still and turn inwards helps me to focus on my balance before I allow outside influences to impact me."

Eat a high-fat, high-protein breakfast.

We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Andrew Thomas, co-founder of smart video doorbell business SkyBell Doorbell, has taken this adage to heart by customizing his breakfast to increase his focus.

"One big thing I did to vastly improve my productivity throughout the day was optimize my breakfast. I now eat a high-fat, high-protein breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up, along with green or pu-erh tea," says Thomas. "My cognition is noticeably better after cutting carbs in the morning, and I much prefer how green tea's caffeine has a more gradual decline than coffee. I also make a vegan protein shake with MCT oil."

Tackle your toughest task first.

"Everyone has that one task each day that they dread," says Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of SEO and marketing business StartRankingNow. Rather than avoiding it, however, Munoz advises confronting it early on to make the rest of the day more rewarding.

"When you tackle it first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be more productive and much more pleasant without that looming over your shoulder," she says. "The night before, decide which is the most difficult task that needs to be accomplished the next day, and put it first thing on your calendar."

Be the first person in the office.

Jeff Jahn, founder and chief nerd of website development company DynamiX, wakes up early in order to be the first person in the office and work uninterrupted. "I have found that there's no substitute for being the first one in the office each morning," he says.

"It allows for uninterrupted productivity, lets you gather your thoughts without time pressure and relieves the sense of needing to respond to emails instantly, as you can count on no one seeing them for a while," Jahn explains. "I often take this time to address items that are important, but hard to get to later in the day."

Envision your ideal self and what you're thankful for.

"How effectively I use my time varies significantly depending on my state of mind," says Chris Goward, founder and CEO of WiderFunnel, a marketing optimization agency. A combination of gratitude and ideal visualization is what gets Goward in the right mindset every morning.

"To prime myself for effectiveness, the first thing I do when I open my eyes is set a timer for five minutes and run through all the things I'm thankful for that day," he says. "Then I spend 10 minutes envisioning my ideal day and ideal self. These get me oriented toward seeking opportunities all day."

Published on: Nov 21, 2016