Do you want to develop a morning routine that starts you on the road to success?Be thoughtful about the habits you are starting to develop and the results will be amazing. Here are some habits of successful people to which you can ascribe part of their success. There is however no magic routine. These are all great tips, but it is up to you to decide which fit your life.
1. They get important things done early
Do you know that feeling of mental fatigue at the end of the day?
Humans have limited willpower. It runs out as the day progresses. This is called “ego depletion”, or decision fatigue. Decision fatigue particularly describes how every time you have to exercise willpower to make a decision you lose some willpower juice. Get your most important things done first in the morning while you still have full focus and mental power.
Mark Twain is often quoted saying “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”. Start with the frogs, and take easier decisions and do easier things as the day progresses. Speaking of food in the morning, it’s actually good for you to not eat in the morning (link).
What you can do: plan your most important and difficult tasks in the morning. There are several tasks that can help you determine the most important tasks but we recommend the GTD Method.
2. They set serious priorities
Priorities are what focus you during the day. Steve Jobs reportedly started the day by looking in the mirrors and asking himself a question: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” (This is especially apropos for someone that died from a disease at a young age).
Whether you want to go as extreme as he did or not, start your day by determining what really matters.
What you can do: take time in your mornings to determine to-do items things matter to you.
If you have trouble deciding, I recommend the Eisenhower matrix.
Tools: Eisenhower matrix
3. They start with their end goal in mind
It is fascinating how many people have no goals and then are surprised they aren’t getting anywhere. If you define where you want to be at the end of the day you can decide what things matter most in order to reach your goal. The best short-term goals have a long-term goal associated with them.
Ron Friedman describes the start of his day: “Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?”
What you can do: start your day by asking yourself what would need to happen for you to be satisfied by the end of the day.
The tool I recommend for this is the visualization method — Imagine yourself at the end of the day to discover what you want to have accomplished.
4. They start with the tasks they gave themselves yesterday
Kenneth Chenault (American Express CEO) writes down tomorrows tasks at the end of the day. This means that when his day starts he knows where to begin. No more fidgeting start-up time. By defining tasks for your future self at the end of the day you can start the day with full momentum.
What you can do: at the end of the day, write down tasks for your future self.
Tool: Any.do todo manager
5. They have a morning routine
The human body is made for structure. This is reflected in our biological cycle, the circadian rhythm. Both your body and mind will function a lot smoother if your morning is structured. it prevents you from wandering aimlessly (which a loft of people do). Personally I like making a matcha tea, or bulletproof matcha in the morning.
Anna Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief for plays an intense tennis match every morning. Margaret Thatcher, former U.K. prime minister apparently got up every day to listen to the “Farming Today” radio show. This part of the routine centered each of these successful people for decision-making throughout the remainder of the day.
What you can do: choose a morning routine and stick to it.
Tool: Post-its, I have them hanging around as a reminder of my routine
6. They have a structured life
As we discussed above, a morning routine is important. The truly productive use this structured morning as a template for the rest of the day. Once you gained momentum in the day, be sure to use that to fuel you for the rest of the day. Structure and productivity are very close friends.
Benjamin Franklin is a great example of a man with a structured morning and day:
What you can do: structure your days. If your days differ, plan weekly.
Tool: Google Calendar
7. They get and stay in shape
Barack Obama plays sports in the morning. If someone that has such a structured schedule as the President of the United States does can find time for exercise, so can you.
The reason exercise is quite simple. The human body functions best if it is used for physical activity. In fact, playing sports doesn’t only improve your body, it develops your mental power. Remember the ego depletion we talked about? Exercise is a great way to buffer it. Studies actually show that exercise (and/or taking a nap) increase your willpower.
Note: good food has an even bigger impact than exercise.
What you can do: Exercise in the morning. No equipment needed.
8. They work hard but make time for family and leisure
No matter how productive your morning is, always make time for family and relaxation. Take the two successful US political figures: Obama and Franklin. Both of them were/are obviously incredible busy and successful. Both of them however make/made time for their family and to try and wind down.
Franklin was known to make time to read, and while it is not a morning habit Obama always tries to have dinner with his family.
What you can do: in your mornings, plan ahead some time for leisure and family.
Tools: Goodreads, Whatsapp group
9. They meditate
Meditation is great for productivity and your overall mood. Both the morning and night are perfect opportunities to incorporate this habit. Tim Ferriss is a great proponent of meditation in the morning. He is a best-selling writer on productivity and health and has shared that he uses meditation to start his day.
Meditation is pretty easy to start off with.
What you can do: meditate after waking up, incorporate it into your morning routine.
Tool: Headspace app
10. They use the morning go get inspired and motivated
Nothing sets the tone of your day like how you start it.
Tony Robbins is known to use the morning to list a number of things he is grateful for, and to get himself psyched up for the day. It’s a consistent morning routine that gets him going.
What you can do: think of some things you are grateful for in the morning.