According to research reported in Business Insider“The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day,” said Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century American clergyman and abolitionist. 4 Hour Work Week author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss says you must “win the morning to win the day.”
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.
Today, I share my own morning routine, as well as the morning habits of people we might look to as roles 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 6am, 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 afterwards.
Mel points out that most people also sleep near their phones and tend to check emails after waking up—often before they even get out of bed! (An increasing number of people also confess to checking emails in the middle of the night—a horrible habit.) When we wake up and hop on email, our minds are captured by the agendas of others rather than OUR priorities and goals.
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.
My Morning Routine
My current routine involves getting up at 6am. Upon waking, I try to get outside, even if only for five minutes, but ideally for a 30-minute walk, including some gentle hills. In my case, this usually includes walking down to the alpaca barn and back. During this time, 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, Emma Dawg, the Great Dane, is usually with me. That 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!
Notice what is missing is ANY 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.
Next, I read something inspirational. My current favorites include reading from Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now, A New Earth), May McCarthy (The Path to Wealth, which offers its own powerful daily routine) or MyBibleLesson.com.
Then I usually also listen to something inspirational, such as music, a podcast, or perhaps Emily Fletcher of ZivaMeditation.com. 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 a unnecessary calories or carbs. These days, that’s herbal tea with collagen protein power and flax seed oil, which my husband Todd mixes up in the blender bullet-proof-coffee style. I also enjoy some JuicePlus fruit and vegetable chewables (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!
The Morning Routines of Successful People
“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!
The best morning routine for you may look a bit different from mine, but there ARE commonalities in how peak performers approach their day. Some elements you’ll find in the morning routines of CEOs and successful entrepreneurs include:
Gratitude. I weave gratitude throughout my day in many ways. Others may keep a gratitude journal, make a list each morning, or use 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.
Exercise. As relayed in Tim Ferriss’s 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.
Inspiration. 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 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.
Morning chores. Some people swear that making their bed and tidying their room gets them off on the right foot. I do that pllus “farm chores,” 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 your intentions and priorities. This could include defining a daily intention, focusing on the 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!
What not to do… I’ve been on a “news fast” for years. I only read GoodNewsNetwork, Growing Bolder and the CSMonitor.com. Outside of those sources, I find that I pick up what I need to know through conversations and an occasional Google search.
I also limit my social media time, sometimes giving items to an assistant to post for me rather than logging in myself.
Start your morning right—the night before. One of the keys to waking up rested and productive is going to bed on time. Most people find that they function best with seven to eight hours of sleep. It’s helpful 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 down 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 routine.
Resources for the Best Morning Routine for Productivity
Personal development blogger Benjamin Hardy does an excellent job of outlining morning routines of CEOs, millionaires and other successful people in his article on Medium.com “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 book—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, “Success Lessons: 10 Ways to Win at Money, Work and Life.” Prosperity is definitely not “just” about money… it is living a life you love, helping others, being happy, healthy, and grateful.