Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th-century clergyman and abolitionist, said, “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.” Tim Ferriss, author of 4 Hour Work Week, says you must “win the morning to win the day.” Even research from Business Insider suggests that how you start your day massively impacts how you end your day. It stands to reason that you should hone your morning routine for productivity.
I couldn’t agree more! Starting my day with a consistent, positive routine and mindset sets me up for a successful day—and a successful life filled with gratitude, service, love, and Prosperity. I do this by taking ownership of my time, so that I can claim ownership of my results, too!
Today, I share my own morning routine, as well as the morning habits of people we might look to as role models. As you read this, consider how your morning routine supports your success—and how could it be improved?
Why Your Morning Matters
There is a notable difference in the morning routines of high earners, middle-class earners, and those in the lowest income rung. Not surprisingly, the highest earners are the most likely to get up before 6 am, fit in a full workout in the morning, and map out their schedule (or at least their daily priorities) in advance.
“You must come up with a morning routine that puts you in control of yourself and in control of your day,” says Mel Robbins, influential speaker and author of The 5 Second Rule. She points out that many people lose the battle for control of their day in the first ten minutes! Nearly 65 percent of people hit the snooze button, says Mel. Why does that matter? Because waking up on time and getting out of bed is the first decision you make each day! It sets the tone for everything afterward.
Mel points out that most people also sleep near their phones and check emails, messages, or social media right after waking up—often before they even get out of bed! When we wake up and jump straight into our phones, our minds are captured by the agendas of others rather than OUR priorities and goals. Not only that, the research shows that checking your phone first thing can leave you feeling overwhelmed, and interfere with your ability to prioritize tasks for the day.
Mel’s solution: “Don’t sleep near your phone… If you don’t have boundaries with (your phone), it’s going to impact your sleep, your self-control, and how much money you make.” Mel charges her phone in the bathroom and then turns it OFF each morning until she has contemplated her own top priorities.
I personally like my phone nearby “just in case” a family member might need to reach me, but I always turn off alerts to ensure my sleep is never interrupted. And I don’t check emails when I wake up! It’s important to set boundaries and even “unplug” from technology periodically. For greater control of your morning, consider options such as:
- Using a real alarm clock instead of your phone
- Charging your phone in a different room
- Turning on “Do Not Disturb” at night
- Replacing your morning phone time with reading, journaling, or moving
My Morning Routine
My current routine involves getting up at 6 am. Upon waking, I try to get outside, ideally for a 30-minute walk, including some gentle hills. When you live on a farm, you have the perfect incentive to get up and start your day. So my morning walk leads me to the Alpaca barn to check in on them and let the barn kitties outside for the day. During my walk, I choose to let my mind listen and pay attention to the messages coming from God. (If you prefer, think of this as tuning into your intuition or inner wisdom.)
Unless I’m not at my home in Texas, I have my helper with me: Emma Dawg, the Great Dane. She is often a cause for laughter, which is always a good thing to start my day with!
Some mornings, my morning walk (including some gentle hills) is my exercise. I also work out with a trainer virtually (yes, really, a story for another post) twice a week. On weekends, I often enjoy yard work in spring and summer, and hot yoga in the fall and winter. Emma Dawg and I also enjoy swimming on nice weather days!
Nourishing Mind and Body
Next, I read something inspirational. My current favorites include reading books from my Strategic Coach peers, Alex Epstein’s books on the power of fossil fuels, or MyBibleLesson.com.
Then I often listen to something inspirational, such as music or a podcast. Again, no news or social media or even email if I can help it.
By this time, it’s around 8:00 am and my body is ready for some fuel! Remembering “garbage in, garbage out,” I choose nutrition that won’t weigh me down with unnecessary calories or carbs. These days, that’s my “Bulletproof tea,” which Todd makes for me with herbal tea, collagen protein powder, and flaxseed oil or butter. I also enjoy some JuicePlus fruit and vegetable “gummies” (which are delicious—even my kids eat them!)
Then, I’m ready to greet the day and help as many people in as many ways as possible!
You may or may not notice that there’s something missing from my morning. That would be the news. There is a saying: “Garbage in; garbage out.” I think there is a lot of truth to that, so I pay close attention to what I feed my brain and body in the morning. The news is often sensationalized and negative, and so I choose not to partake in it first thing in the morning (and very little outside of that, as well).
I call this my “news detox,” and I choose to be very intentional about where I get my news. The reason is that I don’t just want to be informed, I want to be uplifted. And many news stations or websites today are attention-grabbing in less than uplifting ways. So, I seek out the good!
How to Improve Your Personal Morning Routine Checklist
“The DNA of success is in your routine,” says Dr. Eric Thomas, who transitioned from a homeless high school dropout to a preacher, educator, and now an internationally known motivational speaker. As Thomas points out, waking up and “winging it” is not a formula for success!
My morning routine checklist may look different from your morning routine, yet there ARE commonalities in how peak performers approach their day. Yet you, too, can hone your morning routine for productivity no matter what your career path. Some elements you’ll find in the morning routines of CEOs and successful entrepreneurs include:
I weave gratitude throughout my day in many ways, and I aim to be specific. One way I practice this is through “positive focus,” which is verbalizing the good that I see, and finding gratitude even when it’s hard. Other ways to practice your gratitude can include keeping a gratitude journal, making a daily list, or using a tool such as the Five Minute Journal or App.
Renowned positive psychologist Shawn Achor developed his own list of daily “must do’s” including gratitude practices that have been proven to improve both happiness and productivity.
As relayed in Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Body, when a younger leader got the chance to ask Richard Branson his advice for greater productivity, Branson advised him to “work out.” He went on to explain that exercising in the morning gave him hours of extra energy and productive time each day.
Making exercise convenient is key. Many CEOs and entrepreneurs work out at home. Others lay out their gym clothes the night before. Some people work with trainers who keep them on track.
Personally, I find ways to incorporate movement into my daily routine. This keeps it fun AND functional. My morning walk is a part of it, yet it also ensures I do my barn chores. Those chores involve lifting, squatting, and more—so maybe I include a few extra “reps.” When I swim, I spend some of my pool time swimming laps or doing aerobics or even wall push-ups.
Read and/or listen to something that inspires you and starts your day off on a positive note. Some people enjoy reading short inspirational stories; others read the Bible or other faith-based material. Some begin their day with learning, reading, or listening to personal development material or a TED Talk. Uplifting music is another popular choice.
James Allen wrote, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” Your thoughts truly do shape your world, so keep them aligned with your desires.
Meditation or Mindfulness Practice
Meditation, prayer, and other mindfulness techniques train you to become more aware and less reactive. This helps you remain centered when you encounter unexpected challenges during the day. Meditation is also proven to lower stress, improve health, combat aging, help resolve insomnia, depression and anxiety, and increase focus and productivity… and that’s just a few of the benefits!
Your practice might include prayer, yoga, traditional or modern meditation techniques, or even a mindfulness practice you create yourself. Tim O’Reilly, a thought leader in tech, takes a regular morning run with a unique difference: he pauses to take a photo of a single flower on his run. This practice teaches him to pay attention, pause, and appreciate the small things.
Some people swear that making their bed and tidying their room helps them to start the day right. I do that plus the “farm chores” I mentioned, such as feeding the alpacas and letting the barn kitties out. With or without a farm, getting fresh air, exercise, and accomplishing something as soon as you get up is a good way to start the day!
Focus on Intentions and Priorities
This could include defining your daily intention, focusing on your top three priority tasks, and/or imagining longer-term goals and priorities already achieved. Something I like to practice is “pro-active gratitude,” which is being thankful for the things I trust will happen—before they actually do.
Connect with Someone You Love
Sharing breakfast with a loved one or a walk with a pet is a marvelous way to start the day. I try to do both!
Start Your Morning the Night Before
One of the keys to waking up rested and productive is going to bed on time. Most people find they function best with seven to eight hours of sleep. It’s helpful to get off of technology at least an hour or two before bedtime, and/or use apps that eliminate stimulating blue light.
Business leaders usually have intentional evening routines to help them wind down. Tim Ferriss takes a bath and reads fiction. Bill Gates likes to wind down by doing the dishes, followed by an hour of reading. American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Leo Babauta of the Zen Habits blog suggest writing your 3 “MITs” (Most Important Things) for tomorrow.
I read quite a bit, and I also enjoy crocheting scarves from alpaca yarn. We do enjoy watching movies in the evening, but typically not on “school nights”—the evenings before a work day.
I’ll admit—when my kids were still at home, it was more challenging to keep my morning routines! My solution was to go to bed even earlier (no TV at night) and get up earlier. I would also incorporate my children into some of my routines.
The Morning Rituals of Successful Entrepreneurs
Personal development blogger Benjamin Hardy does an excellent job of outlining the morning routines of CEOs, millionaires and other successful people in his Medium article, “This Morning Routine Will Make You Unstoppable.”
Tim Ferriss interviewed well over top performers for his book, Tribe of Mentors. Similarly, Ferriss’s book Tools of Titans covers many of the habits and routines of business and thought leaders. You’ll find many productivity hacks in those books—from cold showers to morning concoctions!
I hope that gives you helpful tips for your morning success routine…I’d love to hear yours in the comments below!
You might also be interested in my article, “How to Cultivate Prosperity Beyond Money.” After all, Prosperity is definitely not just about money… it is living a life you love, helping others, being happy, healthy, and grateful. And of course, if we can help you on your journey to Prosperity, we invite you to connect with us. You can also email us with your questions, at firstname.lastname@example.org.