A successful day begins with a purposeful morning.
A lot has been written about the power of your morning routine to set your day on a positive course, and science backs those assertions.
A common thread among many books and articles on this topic is the importance of a solid morning routine.
Success in the morning begins with the plan you made the night before.
Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, we all start our day at some point. Your success today depends on how you begin and end your day.
Tapping into the power of mornings, a time of day when you are most active, might be the key to your long-term success.
While most of us are still wrestling with our snooze buttons, many of the world’s highest achievers are getting a head-start with their work.
A morning routine sets you up for the whole day, and if it is done right, everything else in your life will follow.
“Morning and evening routines prime you for success. They help you achieve more, think clearly, and do work that actually matters. They keep you from thoughtlessly stumbling through your day and make sure you get the most important things done,” says Stephen Altrogge of Zapier.
Many successful people spend the first hours of each day alone, to reflect, think, meditate, create or read. Find something that motivates you and look forward to it every morning.
Wayne Huizenga once said, “Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.”
In a commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford back in 2005, he revealed the motivational tactic that he used to start each and every day.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Pretty powerful stuff.
Would asking that question help keep your morning to-dos in perspective?
Time management starts right from the minute you wake up from bed. You are most active and productive in the morning, hence the need to do everything in your power to make the first few hours count.
For 15 years, Starbucks President Michelle Gaas has set her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to go running. Gretchen Ruben, popular author of The Happiness Project wakes up at 6 a.m. and works for an hour before her family rises.
The AOL CEO once told The Guardian that he gets out of bed immediately when he wakes up at 5 or 5:15 in the morning, either to answer emails or sneak in a workout. “Historically, I would start sending emails when I got up. But not everyone is on my time schedule, so I have tried to wait until 7 a.m. Before I email, I work out, read and use our products.”
Dan Ariely, behavioral economist at Duke University, once said, “It turns out that most people are productive in the first two hours of the morning. Not immediately after waking, but if you get up at 7 you’ll be most productive from around from 8–10:30.”
“One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media),” says Ariely.
Start your morning on purpose
If your mornings are rushed, the simple solution is to get up a bit earlier. This means going to bed a bit earlier too.
It pays to commit to a few value activities every morning and over time you will create your own optimal morning ritual. Don’t try to fit too much into the mornings though. You don’t want to procrastinate.
Commit to one or two if that will work best for you. For me, it’s exercising, reading (posts saved to Pocket) and writing. Don’t just have things you think you should do but don’t really want to do.
You should have a sequence that starts your morning ritual. But the drawback to having a routine is that it can get boring.
Occasionally you need to mix it up when things get stagnant. Take a chance on something new if you have to. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone. Surprise yourself.
Ian Fleming, who is best known for his James Bond series of spy novels maintained a rigorous morning routine to stay prolific. He once said:
Writing about 2,000 words in three hours every morning, ‘Casino Royale’ dutifully produced itself. I wrote nothing and made no corrections until the book was finished. If I had looked back at what I had written the day before I might have despaired.
There are thousands of reasons to get up each morning and start your day right. You’ve got to find your reason. Once you find it, do everything in your power to make it happen.
Knock out your most difficult work first thing in the morning.
A purposeful morning isn’t something that just falls into your lap — it’s created consciously. You don’t have to implement all these ideas at once, but try one or two out and see if your mornings improve. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.
Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam highlights what makes mornings special and how we can use them more efficiently in her book What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
“There are going to be reasons why you can’t tackle a personal priority at 4 p.m. — things have a lot less likelihood of coming up at 6 a.m.,” says Vanderkam.
Having a regular daily early-morning ritual leaves you feeling abundant, refreshed, and energized from early in the morning until you wind down at night and end your productive day on purpose.
High achievers tend to find routines that work for them and stick to them to get their best work done — it’s typically something they credit as a core to their success.
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey writes about the habits, routines, and rituals of hundreds of artists, including Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Twyla Tharp, Karl Marx, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway. Currey came to this conclusion after studying the great artists:
In the right hands, [a routine] can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.
Success in all fields of endeavour is all about creating real intention in the morning and committing to it.
Breaking out of old habits is not always easy, but establishing new, positive habits has the potential to be a strong influence in your daily life.
Starting your day with a solid morning routine helps make every day an opportunity for success.
Before you go…