The best business leaders know how to make the best use of their time — and that all starts before heading to the office. Take billionaire John Paul DeJoria, for example, who takes five minutes for quiet reflection. Or exec Kat Cole, who drinks 24 ounces of water every morning.
But for most people, it takes a while to develop a health-conscious routine that allows maximum creativity and productivity. So how do you make your daily routine as productive as a productive leader? Here are some tips on how to start your morning off right. Once you develop your ultimate morning routine, it’ll set the tone for the rest of your day.
1. Prep the Night Before
Whether it’s making a “to do” list before you leave work or setting out your clothes, preparing for your day the night before will take the pressure off in the morning. Not to mention, the act of preparing will ease your mind and allow you to have more restful sleep. If you’re super into this, you could even consider making a morning prep checklist (the night before, of course).
2. Get Up Early
A vast number of business leaders get up super early in the morning — at a time I'd still consider the middle of the night. Virgin America’s CEO David Cush wakes up at 4:15. Apple CEO Tim Cook rises at 4:30. Benjamin Franklin got up at 5:00 am, like a slacker. This pattern is surely part of their success. Many of these people use this extra time to energize themselves for the day and accomplish some of the other tasks on our list. More time = getting more done!
3. Make Your Bed
Your mom was right all along! According to “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, making your bed “... is correlated with better productivity and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” In other words, it’s a good habit that can inspire other good habits.
And as you know, any business leader worth their salt is productive and knows how to stick to a budget. Gretchen Rubin, author of "Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives" writes similarly about the importance of making your bed in the morning. The best news of all? It only takes a minute.
4. Take a Moment to be Grateful
Andrew Yang, CEO of Venture for America, records three things he is thankful for in the notes on his phone for a pick-me-up. As the weeks and months go by, his list keeps growing. This practice is a great way to set your mood for the day, and it's always nice to see a reminder later about what you're grateful for.
5. Set a Goal of Achievement for the Day
Kind of like setting an “intention” in yoga (for all you yogis out there), set an intention — or goal — for your day. It will help you focus and prioritize what's important, so the other stressers can take a back seat.
6. Get Some Kind of Exercise
We all know the benefits of exercise, so I don’t need to preach them to you. But I will point out that it’s consistently in the morning routine of top business leaders. Whether it’s a run, a brisk walk, or even a few push ups, exercise will energize you for your day. Obama does it first thing in the morning! Anna Wintour plays an hour of tennis at 5:45 each day! Carve out time for it every morning so it doesn’t get kicked off your to do list.
7. Meditate, or Just Breathe
It may sound touchy-feely, but top leaders swear by this one. I’m sure you’ve heard about how Oprah takes 20 minutes to meditate every morning. It helps to calm your mind so it is clear for what the day ahead brings. In fact, studies have shown that meditation helps reduce anxiety and negative ruminations. It also improves concentration and attention throughout the day. Even if it’s sitting in silence for a few minutes, the benefits are plentiful.
8. Eat a Good Breakfast, and Hydrate
It’s all about energy. We’ve all heard since childhood that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and multiple research studies back this up. According to WebMD, eating the right kind of breakfast improves concentration and performance in the boardroom, which is nothing to skip out on. Drink some water to get hydrated, and eat something protein rich to give you lots of energy. It will leave you feeling fresh the entire morning!
9. Figure out your Working "Uniform"
Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg wear basically the same thing every day. It’s their working uniform! Why do they do this? While it may sound mundane for the fashion forward, people do it to reduce decision fatigue. As a business leader, you're making important decisions all day. Cutting out this one — what to wear each day — reduces stress and makes other decision making that much easier. If you don't want to work out a uniform, simply use the same rationale to work out your morning routine. For instance, I have the same thing for breakfast every single morning — which I have on the stove by 7:10 and in my mouth by 7:25. It certainly makes my mornings easier.
Whether you decide to implement just a few of these tips or already do several of them, it all boils down to a few elements: taking care of your health, getting an early start, and preparing yourself for the day ahead.
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