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5 Morning Rituals Shared by the Most Successful People

5 Morning Rituals Shared by the Most Successful People

While many of us are slamming the snooze button or silencing our phone’s alarm, successful entrepreneurs are cashing in on a not-so-well-kept secret: Morning is the best time to get stuff done.

That’s because willpower is strongest in the mornings, before we’ve zapped our physical and mental energy for the day. That means making big decisions, clarifying thoughts and feelings, executing tasks, and even feeling optimistic comes more easily in the first hours of the day. Plus, morning rituals set the tone for the rest of the day — if you’re grumpy, rushed, and stressed every morning, that’s likely to bleed over into the rest of your life.

Want to start the day on the right foot? Transform your morning routine — and hop aboard the success train — by adopting any or all these morning habits.

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Wake Up Early

In a poll of 20 executives, 90 percent reported waking up before 6 a.m. on work days. Some of the most extreme cases? PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi wakes up at 4 a.m. and arrives at the office by 7 a.m. every day, while Disney CEO Bob Iger is up by 4:30 every morning.

Even if just contemplating waking up that early makes you miserable, you can still take advantage of the day’s most productive hours by setting the alarm just an hour or two earlier than you’re used to getting up. The great thing about being up early is that most people aren’t, so you’ll be able to control what you do during that time without distractions or external demands.

Exercise

Early-morning exercise is one of the most common habits shared by successful people — including the POTUS, the First Lady , and Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. Working out in the morning ensures that you actually find the time to exercise, which is critical to maintaining physical and mental wellness. Plus, it’ll help keep you energized and focused for the rest of the day.

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Create an Action Plan

Ensure you’re productive for the whole day by crafting an effective to-do list that clarifies which tasks need to be given highest priority. This is also a good time to analyze how successful you were at completing yesterday’s to-do list and note any productivity issues before they become major problems.

While you’re at it, take a few moments to remind yourself of your ultimate goal for these and other projects. Is it to support your family? Grow your business? Make the world a better place? Or, make like Steve Jobs and ask yourself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

Reinforcing your value system will help you make decisions that are aligned with those values for the rest of the day, making it easier to prioritize certain tasks and say no to others.

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Eat the Frogs

Yep, this is a real thing — but don’t take it literally. The idea is drawn from a Mark Twain quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In other words, do the day’s most unappealing task first (sending faxes, anyone?). After that, it’s all uphill.

Bonus? Without the distractions of emails or coworkers, it’s likely the task will take you less time to complete — so you can get it done and get on with your day.

Get Centered

Simone de Beauvoir reportedly started her day with a cup of tea. Gwyneth Paltrow wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to do yoga. Disney CEO Robert Iger catches up on what’s happening in the world by reading papers and surfing the net. Whether it’s hanging out with your kids, connecting with your spouse, meditating, or pursuing a hobby, claiming some quality “me” time in the morning is a great way to feel centered and practice self-care. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, so long as it helps you feel more grounded, calm, and ready for whatever the day brings.

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It may take some time to turn these routines into habits, but doing so is worth it. Each of these morning rituals will help you stay healthy, get focused, and approach each day from a place of clarity and poise. That’s worth skipping the snooze button.

Featured photo credit: Ben Stanfield via flickr.com

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Kenny Kline

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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