Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the early bird gets the worm; these phrases are ingrained into us early about morning routines. These well-worn ideas about getting up early and eating a good breakfast have been taken to heart by the leaders of the biggest businesses of the world and then expanded upon. Many Wall Street titans and successful CEO’s report following a strict morning routine and most of their routines share similar traits. Below are a handful of the top 7 things most business titans report doing in the morning to prepare for the day.
1. Wake Up EARLY!
Yes, there is a reason I have early in all caps on this one. I don’t mean wake up 6am, I mean wake up at 4am. A consistent habit many of the most successful businesspeople say they follow is to get up incredibly early. In the morning you have much more control of your time because most other people are still asleep. Without distractions you can knock out the tasks that require a lot of focus and head into your day knowing that you’ve accomplished quite a bit before anybody else was even awake. If you’re not a morning person, like me, you can start by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier every 3 days until you acclimate to waking up much earlier. It’s surprisingly easy to get used to waking up early when you slowly adjust to it.
2. Exercise Every Morning
There is some debate about what is the best time of the day to exercise, but doing a vigorous workout right after you wake up can have long lasting benefits throughout your day. Not only will working out burn calories and increase your cardiovascular health, but a vigorous workout will increase the amount of oxygen in your blood which improves brain function for hours after exercise. An added benefit is that by bumping up your metabolism right at the start of the day followed by eating a healthy meal with protein you can actually feel more full for longer and avoid snacking. Even if you can’t do vigorous exercise like running or biking, a brisk walk or even yoga has shown to have a significant effect on your health and should be made a part of your morning routine.
3. Spend Time Writing Your To Do List
Busy people have a lot of different tasks to deal with not only in their careers but in their home life as well. When you are strapped for time it’s incredibly important to prioritize the things you are doing to make sure that the most important things get done first and that the less important things don’t simply slip your mind and never get completed. Nearly every titan of business spends time just before bed making a list of things they must do tomorrow, and then revisits that list right after they wake up. Many times you can remember something you may not have thought of the night before and can shuffle the priorities in your list.
4. Do the Hardest Thing First
Attack the most difficult task you need to face each day first thing in the morning. Choosing a hard task to do first allows for you to dedicate your time and energy while you are the most fresh and ready to work through problem solving. As the day goes on your brain becomes fatigued from making decisions and interacting with people. The earlier in your day you take care of the harder problems the better you will perform on the tasks that matter most. An added benefit is that many times people choose to ease into their day by doing easy things first where they won’t need to ask for your help so you can get out ahead of them by avoiding distraction and being able to contribute more meaningfully when they do ask for help later in the day.
5. Spend Time With Your Family
Your morning shouldn’t only be about work or preparing for your busy day ahead, you should use this time to connect with your partner and children. Help your kids get ready for school, talk about their lives and what’s important to them. It can be very helpful to talk to your family to re-energize yourself about your work and put what’s truly important into perspective. This can also be a great time to speak to your partner about your upcoming plans, what’s going on in their lives, and what you two might want to do together in the near term. This morning ritual is all about perspective and knowing why you’re working hard. Having the right mindset and knowing your family goals will help you attack the day with more energy and focus.
Stress comes with the territory for the most successful people, and they know that being stressed is not only bad for your productivity but bad for your health. In small doses stress can be a great motivator but over time it builds up and can hold you back from reaching your full potential. Spending just 10 minutes in the morning working on conscious meditation or prayer can relax you and allow that stress to melt away. Focus on being at peace in the moment and avoid thinking of work or family and try to re-center yourself. You spend so much of your time working hard and rushing from place to place that taking time in the morning to yourself can be an important way to find balance in your life.
Your motivation to work hard is a finite resource and it can run low from time to time. A great way to keep your motivation high is to spend a few minutes each morning specifically on doing things that will keep you motivated. Whether you read inspirational literature, watch a short speech or TED Talk by a business leader or turn to your religious teachings, this time should not be skipped. Taking the time each day to consciously motivate yourself to work hard and be successful can help you to project positivity and keep a positive mindset going into your work day. This may sound a little hokey, but if the most successful people in the world do it, shouldn’t you give it a shot?