We all have those people in our lives. You know the ones. They're on top of their work and social lives and never turn up to the office with coffee spilled down the front of their shirts.
They're accomplished for a reason. They recognise that the morning sets the entire tone for the rest of the day and utilise it in effective ways. We don't expect you to nail all of these immediately, but here are some of the most popular and time friendly morning habits of successful CEOs and business leaders.
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Wake Up Early
Successful people don't tend to be the ones who only roll out of bed after the fourth snooze alarm has gone off. By the time you've started panic-running to the train station, they've been up for a few hours.
Some of the biggest CEOs in the world are up well before the sun is. This gives them time to kick start their day and get stuck into their routine early. But as you'll see, it isn't all about getting straight into work. They manage to accomplish a lot before they have even thought about heading into the office.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne gets up at 3:30am, but to be fair it's to deal with the bust European market. We may not recommend being that intense, but 4:30am to 5:30am seems to be the general sweet spot.
Try to get to sleep early and keep your bed time consistent. Yes, even on weekends. Try to go to bed and wake up within the same half hour time slot every day.
For more on rising early:
- Transform Your Bedroom To Make It Easier To Wake Up Early
- 12 Devices And Apps To Quantify Your Sleep
- Night Owl Vs Early Bird: The Science Behind Sleeping Patterns Explained
Plan Your Day
This can be done in the morning, but it's even more effective the night before.
From getting their calendar in order to picking out their clothes, people who get into this habit are prepared for the day before they even wake up.
It's also beneficial to keep a to-do list or schedule of the tasks you need to get done for the day. This keeps them organised and helps you to remember them. Also, it's really satisfying crossing them off as you go. People such as author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss also find it beneficial to keep gratitude lists, so they can remain positive and remember everything they're thankful for
For more on planning and organisation:
- The Pomodoro Technique Can Supercharge Work And Study In 30 Minutes
- Todoist's Smart Schedule Suggests The Perfect Deadline For Your Tasks
- Manage Your Priorities, Not Your Time, To Get The Important Work Done
- Boost Your Happiness At Work By Changing The Way You Approach To-Do Lists
I know. Exercise may just be the last thing you want to do after waking up at 5:30am. But studies have shown just how super charged and productive it can make the rest of your day.
It can even be something as simple as walking the dog — which definitely counts as multitasking since you'll be ticking off a household job. This can also give some nice quiet time to think.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey begins every day with a 6 mile run and meditation. Former First Lady Michelle Obama has even been reported to start her work outs at 4:30am.
If some of the busiest people in the world can find the time to work in a half hour cardio session — so can you.
For more on exercise:
- How To Include Your Kids In Your Workout Routine
- How Can I Make My Body More Flexible?
- How Your Brain Stops You From Exercising
- Five Steps To Get Fit For Tough Mudder
Yoga Or Meditation
If you're looking for some lighter exercise or even just some time for peace and quiet — try some yoga or meditation in the morning.
Although it may seem that the latter in particular is a waste of time, this couldn't be further from the truth. Getting in the zone at the start of your day can be highly beneficial. A focused mind is a productive one.
This is particularly important during crunch or times of stress. Take a small portion of time out to breathe can help you mentally prepare for the tasks ahead.
Short on time? Even just a few minutes of quiet reflection can be helpful.
For more on yoga and meditation:
- A 30-Minute Yoga Routine You Can Do Anywhere, With No Special Equipment
- How To Use Your Smartphone To Chill Out
- How To Meditate And Get The Most Benefit Out Of It
- How To Do Yoga While Sitting At Work
Have you ever wondered why some people have their best ideas in the shower? As it turns out, science may be able to explain it.
In general, you're alone and relaxed in the shower — not to mention distracted from the outside world. This, along with the dopamine that the brain releases due to the warm water, fosters a great environment for creativity and problem solving. It can even help you be more productive.
This is why so many people feel that showers are an essential part of their morning routine. Just think how much dopamine would be flowing if you just exercised too. Eureka moments for days!
For more on bathroom time:
- Do Cold Showers Really Cool You Down?
- How To Give Yourself A Spa-Like Bath At Home
- You Probably Don't Need To Shower As Often As You Think
Preferably a healthy one.
Yes we've heard it all before — skipping breakfast is bad. It jump starts your metabolism. Etc.
Well you're going to hear it again.
On top of the obvious and well documented health benefits — eating breakfast literally fuels you for the day. It's a literal source of energy.
If that isn't enough to motivate you, try approaching it from a reward perspective. By planning a delicous (and nutritious) breakfast every morning, you'll have something to look forward to — a fun reason to get up super early.
For more on food:
- 4 Things That Happen When You Skip Breakfast
- Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal Of The Day?
- How Your Phone Can Make You Healthier (And Relieve Stress)
- Drinking Coffee Could Make You Live Longer
- Why You Should Eat (Deez) Nuts
It's important to maintain your family relationships, and what better time than when you're awake and refreshed?
Take the time to have breakfast with your family. A recent study in the Society For Consumer Psychology has shown that eating similar food can build trust and commonality between people. In this particular case it was between strangers, but it can translate. Food is something that people enjoy immensely, and sharing that experience with loved ones is a good thing.
If you don't have kids — make time for your partner. If your mind has wandered into more frisky territory, that's a great idea too.
Firstly, morning sex is an efficient way to combine exercise and intimacy — way to show initiative. Secondly, studies have shown that sex may actually increase your intelligence and that those who have regular sex tend to earn more money.
Even if you only have time to talk — make the effort. My partner and I commute into the city together and it's always a nice time to discuss what's going on in our lives and make plans before the rest of the day has the time to weigh us down.
For more on family time:
Read And Sends Emails
Emails can be sneaky things. It's really easy to interrupt your flow state to answer one and then suddenly realise you've fallen down a proverbial rabbit hole of 'reply alls'.
The Harvard Business Review recently advocated for morning email checks as a way to alleviate stress in the office, stating that 92% of workers showed signs of elevated heart rate and blood pressure when dealing with emails in the work place.
In fact, this work place has gotten rid of email entirely. Maybe one day we'll all follow suit.
Until then, getting stuck into important emails first thing in the morning can help you avoid that anxiety. It also allows you to free up more time later in the day to focus on important tasks uninterrupted. It can also give you a preliminary idea of what your day is going to look like, which will help you prepare for it.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong also starts on his emails early, he tries to hold off sending too many before 7am.
For more on emails:
- How To Deal With Your Inbox, According To Science
- How To Use Gmail's Labels To Keep Your Inbox Neat And Tidy
- Use The Five Folder System To Finally Organise Your Email Inbox
- How Can I Get Rid Of All This Spam?
Catch Up On The News
People in high places may be incredibly busy, but many still make the time to find out what's going on in the world.
For some, this is out of pure interests whereas for others, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, it can be to find articles that are relevant to their business or will directly impact their day.
Of course, there's no reason why you can't multitask your news consumption. GE CEO Jeff Immelt will read the papers during his morning workout. American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk takes this a step further by making the most of his bathroom time.
For more on news and reading:
- ExplainToMe Summarises Lengthy Online Articles
- 12 Books Bill Gates Thinks Everyone Should Read
- How To Spot And Debunk Fake News
- The Daily Mixer Lets You Read The News Before You Know The Source
Non Work Tasks
Feeling accomplished shouldn't just be restricted to work. You should strive for it in your personal and home life too.
Do you have a passion project or side hustle? Maybe you're writing a book, building a computer or have a small side business. Make some time for it in the morning.
This is the best time for it, because you won't be trying to tackle it when you're potentially tired and cranky at the end of your day.
In fact, companies like Google also place importance on encouraging passion projects. That's exactly how Gmail and Google Ad Sense were born.
Purposely carving out time for your own projects will turn it into a habit and help you achieve these extracurricular goals faster. If you don't have a project like this, perhaps make some time for your hobby or do something practical like getting bills and paperwork sorted. Sure, that may be boring, but you'll be getting them out of the way and feel more organised and accomplished for it.
For more one side projects: