Exercise? No devices? Tough tasks? Consider these factors to make it a productive morning.
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Morning routines are a very personal thing. While some people may be up at the break of dawn ready for a run followed by a green smoothie, others are clutching their pillow and hitting snooze ad infinitum.
Of course, most of us know the importance of a good early routine - it’s what sets us up for the day. What we do in the first hours of waking has a knock-on effect that lasts far beyond the morning sunshine.
In times of need, we frequently turn to the most successful amongst us for inspiration - and our morning routines are no different.
While it is often the most dramatic and unrealistic aspects of celebrity routines which make headlines, to truly make the most of the tips from the rich and famous, we need to be selective. The secret to a good morning routine is planning your day so that your bed and wake up times align with your natural circadian rhythms (i.e. your internal body clock).
So, without further ado, here are a variety of tips from some very successful people to help you get the most out of your mornings:
Find your ideal bedtime
Unfortunately, there is no universal bedtime that suits everyone. Both the time you get up and whether you lean towards being an early bird or night owl will impact what is most suited to you. After all, the bedtime that’s best for someone who works night shifts will naturally be different to a person who begins work at the more conventional time of 9am.
Joel Gascoigne is the co-founder and CEO of social media scheduling platform, Buffer. He likes to start his day bright and early at 6:30am - and an early start means that Joel has a very sensible bedtime of 10:30pm. The main motivation for setting this time to bed down is so he can get a minimum of seven and a half hours of sleep.
Whether you’re an early bird or prefer to burn the midnight oil, this tip is transferable to everyone and anyone! Simply select the time you need to wake up at, then work backwards from there.
Dharmesh Shah (founder and CTO of HubSpot) also sees the importance of getting a full night’s sleep - this is despite having a drastically different bed time, dozing off at around 2am and not rising until after 9am to ensure he’s had at least 7 hours in the sack.
However, whatever your bedtime, ensure you stick to it to maintain consistency. Doing this means your circadian rhythms can adjust so that you can wake up feeling fresh and ready to face the day.
Start your day off right
Cardio? Yoga? Emails? In our always-on and connected digital world, it can be tempting to start the day in your inbox. It may seem that doing so makes you more productive, but many of the world’s most successful people shun this work-from-bed habit.
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of Huffington Post, says that ‘a big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do’ - and with her electronic devices charging outside the bedroom, Arianna removes the temptation to start responding to emails first thing.
Like it or not, the benefits of exercise are undeniable - plus a morning pain au chocolat tastes all the sweeter when it comes after a good workout.
It’s true that not everyone likes to get their heart pumping so early, but if you think you can handle it, you’ll be in good company. Reese Witherspoon likes to exercise before work. Excuses are out, too - Reese observes that with a good pair of trainers and GPS access, you can run just about anywhere.
Manage energy (not time)
This is the advice of journalist and author Tony Schwartz; after all, human concentration naturally ebbs and flows.
Sadly motivation is a finite resource. Even the most hardworking amongst us (cough, Elon Musk, cough) can’t operate at full pelt all day, every day. People experience their peak motivation at different times of the day, but for most, this zap of motivation comes in the morning.
Successful people are pros at harnessing this - and they harness it to get their priorities sorted. Though it may sound counter-intuitive to some, you should try using your motivated morning time to do your most dreaded task (AKA the frog task).
Benjamin Franklin famously ended each evening with the question ‘what have I done today?’. For your morning routine, the counterpiece to this is asking: ‘what good do I want to achieve today?
Set out your priorities and use that stretch of pre-noon motivation to accomplish the thing you’re most dreading; that way you’ll have the rest of the day free to complete the tasks you enjoy.
Stick with it
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit - and if you want to maintain your ideal morning routine, you need to make it habitual.
Remember, when it comes to resetting the time you sleep and rise, it’s best to adjust it a little each day. This way, you can train your body to adapt to your new routine, rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end and feeling disheartened if you don’t see changes straight away.
The universal rule that unites all great morning routines is consistency. So, keep at it and you too can set yourself up for success every day of the week.