Most of us start our days with a ringing alarm clock, a big cup of coffee/tea and a quick check of our emails or smartphones. But if you examine successful people’s morning routines, that’s exactly what they’re not doing.
“A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day,” says some successful people.
These five morning habits of highly successful people will help you kick-start your day so you can achieve greater focus, clarity and productivity.
1. Bid adieu to the alarm
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos swears by eight hours of sleep each night. He’s also a big proponent of waking up naturally, without an alarm.
The American actress and entrepreneur Oprah also wakes up on her own. In her wellness diary, she explained how she sets her internal clock: “I have never set an alarm, I don’t believe in them. They are alarming! I put the number in my mind, and I wake up before that, usually between 6:02 and 6:20, because the dogs are trained to go out around that time. My first thought in the morning is, ‘Oh, I’m alive. Thank you!'”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, early bedtime allows us to get eight hours of sleep which is the recommended amount of sleep for most adults. It also ensures that we can wake up naturally without an alarm clock.
“Just think about the definition of the word alarm,” explains experts, “a sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger.” Beginning the day in such a startling manner creates a flood of stress hormones and adrenaline as our body prepares for danger. Not the best way to start the day!
2. Grab a glass of water before anything else
Grabbing a cup of coffee first thing in the morning may seem like the logical choice, but health experts say water is better. After going several hours without H2O, a serving of water first thing can hydrate the body while aiding digestion and metabolism. Water is an essential nutrient, and the organs and tissues in your body depend on it to function. Since your body loses water regularly, you need to compensate for these losses to avoid dehydration. Celebrities and fitness enthusiasts swear by this step as a refreshing glass of water can revitalize you and help you feel more positive about and prepared for the day ahead.
3. Don’t ditch exercise
Morning exercise is a daily habit of many successful leaders. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the owner of lifestyle company Goop, says that she works out every morning after checking emails. Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates likes to multitask during his morning treadmill workouts by watching DVDs while exercising. As Niki Leondakis, the CEO of the luxury lifestyle brand Equinox, who regularly does morning yoga, puts it, “I’ve always known that you have to be physically healthy and strong to be mentally healthy and strong. It’s all connected.”
4. Better avoid decision making tasks in the morning
Sometimes the best way to have a productive morning is to get a head start the night before. Many successful people spend their evenings getting ready for the following day because it frees up their mornings to get a jump on meaningful work. Former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault ends his evenings by writing down three things he wants to accomplish the next day. Creating a to-do list at night is more time efficient, reduces morning stress and marks a definitive end to the day, resulting in greater work-life balance.
5. Ask yourselves that question
Self-reflection in the morning can set you up for success the entire day. No one knew this better than the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Too often, we go through our lives on autopilot, only to realize later that we’ve lost sight of our values, goals and passions along the way.
Steve Jobs avoided this scenario by asking himself one fundamental question in the mirror every morning: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? If the answer is no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
This self-awareness technique is genius. Imagine waking up every morning not wanting to do your job and feel that way for months or years on end. If you’re answering no to this question day after day, it’s likely time to make a career change.
Consistent morning habits set the tone for a productive day. Follow these tips, and you’ll find yourself achieving higher levels of success than ever before.