“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.” (W. H. Auden)
Be wise and practice early rise
Here are all the best tactics, strategies, inspirational stories, research, tools and much more, that I curated for you to create and ultimately perfect a key secret weapon for happiness and success … A powerful early morning routine!
“There will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead” (Benjamin Franklin)
How and when you wake up each day and your morning routine significantly affects your levels of success in every single area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible. Focused, productive, energizing, purposeful mornings generate focused, productive, energizing, purposeful days, which inevitably create a fulfilled and successful life.
Rituals are so important. Morning rituals in particular can help you create the life of your dreams.
“We have failed to recognize our great asset: time. A conscientious use of it could make us into something quite amazing.” (Friedrich Schiller)
This article is tailored to help you find your best unique morning routine.
It is designed to be referred to as a book more than a one-off quick read, and to have content as valuable in 20 years as it is today. It is meant to be reflected duly over time, as part of your growth self-development journey.
Pick out a few ideas or tips to reflect on daily or weekly. Ponder over your favorite ones every day for the next 30 days. Watch how quickly your morning routine and your life will change!
And last but not least remember: There is no one final answer. It’s a continuous circle of discovery process.
To help you navigate this long article and wealth of information enclosed in it, here is a table of content.
TABLE OF CONTENT
PART 1: Why is an early morning routine so powerful?
- PURPOSEFUL MORNING: RISE & SHINE
- KNOW YOUR “WHY”
- GETTING UP EARLY GIVES YOU TIME TO REFLECT ON YOUR GOALS
- FALLING AWAKE: THE GOLDEN HOURS OF EARLY BIRDS AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
- THE 4 AM PRODUCTIVITY AND WILLPOWER SHIFT
- CONSISTENT, REGULAR BEHAVIORS GIVE US A FEELING OF STABILITY
- MORNING RITUALS PRIME YOUR BRAIN TO ENTER A FLOW STATE
- A MORNING RITUAL HELPS YOU START THE DAY FEELING ACCOMPLISHED
- MENTAL ADVANTAGES
- PHYSICAL BENEFITS
- SPIRITUAL REWARDS
- STRUCTURE AND SUCCES
PART 2: How to wake up early?
- POWERFUL RITUAL
- GET ACCOUNTABILITY
- GAMIFY THE PROCESS WITH THE SEINFELD METHOD
- FIND YOUR IDEAL WAKE-UP TIME
PART 3: How to set yourself for success with a good night sleep?
- MAKE A FRESH START
- FAVOR QUALITY OF SLEEP OVER QUANTITY: UNPLUG AND RECHARGE YOUR OWN BATTERY FIRST
- THE TIME BEFORE YOU GO TO BED IS AN IDEAL TIME TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE MORNING
PART 4: How to find your own perfect morning routine?
- FIND AN ALARM THAT SUITS YOU
- DON’T LOUNGE IN BED AFTER YOUR ALARM CLOCK GOES OFF
- FIND YOUR ANCHOR HABIT TO GET YOU OUT OF SLEEP MODE
- CHOOSE FOR “WAKING-UP LIGHT” WORKS BEST FOR YOU
- DO THIS BREATHING EXERCISE
- MAKE THE BED
- GREET THE WORLD
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE AND TAKE THE TIME TO JOURNAL – WHAT YOU APPRECIATE APPRECIATES
- THE RITUAL OF PRIVATE REFLECTION
- MEDITATE – START THE DAY MINDFUL, NOT MIND FULL
- YOUR MIND EYE IS POWERFUL: PRACTICE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS AND VISUALISATION
- PLAN YOUR DAY AHEAD AND WORK ON YOUR MIT (MOST IMPORTANT TASK)
- DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE MESSAGES AND SOCIAL MEDIA UPON WAKING
- READ THE NEWS
- EAT BREAKFAST
- WORK ON A PERSONAL PASSION PROJECT
- CONNECT WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
- NETWORK OVER COFFEE
PART 5: What can you learn from successful people who wake up before day light?
- SUCCESSFUL EARLY BIRDS IN HISTORY
- SUCCESSFUL EARLY BIRDS IN MODERN TIMES
PART 6: Resources (Books, Apps, Meditations, Ted Talks, Quotes…)
- MANTRAS & BRAIN TATTOOS
- A GREAT VIDEO ON WAKING-UP EARLY by leadership coach Robin Sharma
- THE 10 MORNING ROUTINES OF SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS by Evan Carmichel
- MORNING RITUALS OF TONY ROBBINS, OPRAH, STEVE JOBS, LADY GAGA AND THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE
- VIDEO TO EXPLAIN THE COGNITIVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EARLY BIRDS AND NIGHT OWLS
- INFOGRAPHIC ON THE DAILY ROUTINES OF FAMOUS CREATIVE PEOPLE
- TIM FERRISS SHOW EPISODE ON MORNING ROUTINES AND STRATEGIES
- 7 APPS TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS AND BUILD NEW HABITS
- 16 AWESOME APPS TO KICK-OFF YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
- QUOTES ON MORNINGS
- 70 QUOTES ON THE POWER OF HABITS
PART 1: Why is an early morning routine so powerful?
PURPOSEFUL MORNING: RISE & SHINE
A morning routine is an outward manifestation of confidence, belief and commitment. An action which tells yourself, and the universe, you have a purpose. Something to offer the world. Actions means greater power for attr-action of your wildest dreams and desires.
Goals motivate us, and visualizing our goals gives us the motivation to get out of bed. Energy is everything. Start the day with a sense of purpose, positivity and excitement, and that will set the stage for the rest of your day.
“So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.”
(Marc Aurelius, Meditations)
“On those mornings you struggle with getting up, keep this thought in mind—I am awakening to the work of a human being. Why then am I annoyed that I am going to do what I’m made for, the very things for which I was put into this world? Or was I made for this, to snuggle under the covers and keep warm? It’s so pleasurable. Were you then made for pleasure? In short, to be coddled or to exert yourself?”
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.1)
Even 2000 thousand years ago, Roman Emperor Marc Aurelius (161–180 CE), who was reportedly insomniac, was giving himself a pep talk in his Meditations in order to activate the willpower to throw the blankets off each morning and get out of bed.
From the time we go to kindergarden until we retire, we are faced with that same requirement to get out of bed, because we all have a calling, a larger cause that the Stoics speak about: the greater good. We cannot be of service to ourselves, nor to other people, nor to the world unless we get up and get working, and the earlier the better.
“Ask yourself the following first thing in the morning:
What am I lacking in attaining freedom from passion?
What for tranquility?
What am I? A mere body, estate-holder, or reputation? None of these things.
What, then? A rational being.
What then is demanded of me? Meditate on your actions.
How did I steer away from serenity?
What did I do that was unfriendly, unsocial, or uncaring?
What did I fail to do in all these things?”
(Epictetus, Discourses, 4.6.34-35)
KNOW YOUR “WHY”
If you are able to attach a meaningful objective to a habit or something that you want to accomplish in your life, it will help you to have emotional ownership in keeping up with this habit and to overcome the inevitable obstacles or challenges along the way.
What benefits do you personally expect to receive from creating a morning ritual?
Is it to get in better physical shape, as that is when you intend to exercise, completing your sessions before life can get in the way?
Or maybe you want to become a morning person so you can get more done, thereby decreasing the amount of time you stress over your extra-long to-do list or worrying about how the day is going to play out with everything you have to do?
Or enjoy special quality time with your loved ones?
Or focus on writing that book that you have been dreaming about?
Take the dog for that long walk?
No matter what your reasons, being fully and consciously aware of them will help make getting up early easier.
To make this really clear and empowering, i recommend writing a list of reasons why an early morning routine is important to you, being as specific as possible, and customizing your phone alarm with a motivational phrase that you will see as soon as opening your eyes when reaching out to your alarm to turn it off! This will act as an immediate brain tattoo and make you want to jump out of bed to go after this dream goal!
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” (Aristotle)
GETTING UP EARLY GIVES YOU TIME TO REFLECT ON YOUR GOALS
If you build in time to embrace your existence, your reason for being (ikigai) and your purpose, your brain will become addicted to your morning habit.
Getting up early in the morning takes discipline. But it is an essential top performer skill that will foster quality relationships, and take you, your business as well as health and fitness to the next level of excellence.
Think about what you want to achieve in life, what your purpose is and how you are going to reach those goals. This active awareness helps you become more proactive and less reactive.
Waking-up early is a great gift to give to yourself. Give yourself every day at least a 60 minutes personal leadership and self-development in mind, body and spirit.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” (Henry Ford)
FALLING AWAKE: THE GOLDEN HOURS OF EARLY BIRDS AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Early mornings provide a wonderful window to tune-up our mind and body for the day ahead and be at our best to play our unique music and sing our song… After all, does an orchestra start to play a Mozart concerto without tuning up the instruments first? This will give you a huge edge over the rest of the world who was still under the blankets during this time!
I personally wake-up anytime between 4 and 5 am.
In weekdays, I have to head to my office for work around 8 am. So between 4 or 5 am and 8 am I have 3 to 4 golden hours to take care of my body, mind and spirit.
During this time, I generally go to the gym (it opens at 6 am and I go for up to 1h30), as weight lifting is my keystone habit. It enables me to meditate (or “fall awake”) to set my mindset for the day, stretch and have a great empowering work-out before starting my business day… By the time I arrive in the office, I already have also had a pre and post work-out breakfast, listened or read the key news of the day, caught-up with urgent personal or business emails, and of course showered and dressed.
I might alternatively (in the week-ends in particular, when I can go to the gym a bit later in the morning) practice personal development to learn a new skillset through readings, podcasts or audiobooks; do some creative and productive work; go for an early walk outdoors (I live a few steps away from the beautiful Hyde Park in London); focus on writing and making progress for my passion project; self-reflect and sharpen my life’s philosophy or review my goals; practice positive visualizations about my dreams and gratitude.
“Before the rest of the world is eating breakfast, the most successful people have already scored daily victories that are advancing them toward the lives they want.” (Laura Vanderkam, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life)
Whilst the rest of the world is sleeping I cherish this quality productive time, without being interrupted by emails or calls, my mind is crystal clear and these are my most valuable precious hours.
These early hours infuse every remaining minute of my day with self-confidence and self-awareness, a perspective that elevates each other area of my life. It makes me a better as a leader, businessperson, creative, writer, friend, daughter, human being. It increases my performance and productivity, my energy and my quality of life.
In this interview with Tim Ferriss, Jocko Willink, a legend in the Special Operations world, speaks about on the “psychological edge” that getting up early in morning gives.
“Your will doesn’t break — it never shows up in the first place.” (Jocko Willink)
Jocko is also the co-author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win and his new book Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual. The success mindset and habits he highlights all rely heavily on his morning routine and willpower.
THE 4 AM PRODUCTIVITY AND WILLPOWER SHIFT
A number of successful leaders and entrepreneurs, as well as creative, are declaring that they are most productive in the early hours of the morning while the majority of the world is still at sleep.
Game changing productivity
It is my personal belief that living a productive life boils down to living a productive year, which boils down to living a productive month, which boils down to living a productive day etc. Therefore, a productive life is achieved through a chain of productive days.
All of us have the same 24 hours or 86,400 seconds a day to do things we need and want to do. But it often seems that certain people manage to do more with these.
How is it that some of us can barely manage to stay on top of our laundry while others manage to write books, compose music or paint all the whilst having a full time job and a family? Do these remarkably accomplished people have fewer daily commitments? Are they more efficient, more driven, or more disciplined? Where do they find the time?
“We all have 168 hours a week, but not all hours are equally suited to all things.” (Laura Vanderkam, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life)
Life changing success does not come from the few, once-in-a-lifetime decisions. They come from the small decisions made consistently, every single day.
“The force of the water drop that hollows the stone. A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.” (Laura Vanderkam, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life)
Research says that 4 am may be the most productive time of the day
The reasons include:
- Minimal distractions before the sun rises (kids, works, emails, phones, social medias)
- « Sacred time » for things (hobbies, keystone habits) that will energize you and set you up for success the rest of the day – self-care, exercise, family time, personal growth, and spiritual connection.
“If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen, If it has to happen, then it has to happen first.” (Laura Vanderkam, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life)
According to a study by Biologist Christoph Randler, people whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success, because they are more proactive than people who are at their best in the evening.
Christoph Randler surveyed 367 university students, asking what time of day they were most energetic and how willing and able they were to take action to change a situation to their advantage. Proactivity is the willingness and ability to take action to change a situation to one’s advantage and has been studied in a wide range of contexts. Morning people were more proactive than evening types, and people with small differences in rise time between weekdays and free days were also more proactive persons. These results suggest that morning people are more proactive than are evening types. A higher percentage of the morning people agreed with statements that indicate proactivity, such as “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
They set aside their first hours of the day to invest in their top-priority activities before other people’s priorities come rushing in.
According to award-winning psychologist Ron Friedman, Ph.D., the first 3 hours of your day are your most precious for maximized productivity.
“Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well.” (Ron Friedman Harvard Business Review, “Your brain’s ideal schedule”)
Research says that 4 am is optimal for your brain to train its willpower muscle
State University psychology professor Roy Baumeister’s famous finding that willpower is like a muscle that becomes fatigued and depleted from overuse. In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, one of the world’s most esteemed and influential psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister, teamed with New York Times science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of self-control and how to master it.
Roy F. Baumeister says in his book that our willpower is strongest in the morning, making it the most important time of our day. The first hour of our day determines the rest of it, and we should build a strong foundation for it. The key to this is our morning routine.
Likewise, other researchers discovered that self-control is strongest at the beginning of the day. Experimental research by Kouchaki & Smith (2014), published in Psychological Science in January, shows that people are more likely to act ethically and to overcome temptation in the morning than later in the day. The authors refer to it as “the morning morality effect”.
This spike in willpower, self-control and drive in the early morning hours can help tremendously, and we tend to exhibit greater morality in the mornings, which makes this a great time to make decisions that are grounded, at least in part, in ethics.
Early mornings offer a fresh supply of willpower, and people tend to be more optimistic and ready to tackle challenging tasks. Morning protocols are built on hard science from brain and performance optimization research.
Your early morning routine is the one move that transforms every other move, and the rest of your day.
“ You’ve got to wake up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” George Lorimer
CONSISTENT, REGULAR BEHAVIORS GIVE US A FEELING OF STABILITY
As human beings, we crave stability. Tony Robins explains why in his TED Talk “Why We Do What We Do” from 2006 where he highlights the invisible forces that shape our every thought, behavior and action.
He says that regardless of your goals and personal situation as well as stage of life, there are 6 basic universal needs that make us tick and drive all human behavior.
Every single person in this world has these same 6 needs, but each of us value these needs in different ways, and each of us have varied beliefs about what it means to satisfy those needs. And this is what becomes the driving force behind everything we do, and determines the direction of our lives.
One of the 6 needs is certainty. Tony Robbins tells us that striving to experience comfort and gain certainty in your life minimizes the stress of uncertainty.
A consistent, regular morning routine fosters this sense of certainty. Control and certainty is one of the key ingredients your mind needs to enter a “flow state”.
MORNING RITUALS PRIME YOUR BRAIN TO ENTER A FLOW STATE
In the book Flow: The Psychology of Happiness, Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi shows how flow is where your brain blocks out the noise and taps into a greater degree of cognitive performance.
It is based on the premise that happiness levels can be shifted through the introduction of more flow. Happiness is not a rigid state that can’t be changed. On the contrary, happiness takes a committed effort to be manifested. He believes that flow is crucial to creating genuine happiness.
“Happiness takes a committed effort to be manifested.” (Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi)
His research shows that people were most creative, productive, and often, happiest when they are in this state of flow.
He interviewed athletes, musicians, artists, and other high-performers, because he wanted to know when they experienced the most optimal performance levels.
He was also interested in finding out how they felt during these experiences. He developed the term “flow state” because many of the people he interviewed described their optimal states of performance as instances when their work simply flowed out of them without much effort.
He aimed to discover what triggered creativity, especially in the workplace, and how creativity lead to more productivity. He determined that flow is not only essential to a productive employee but it is imperative for a contented one as well. In his own words, flow is:
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
TED Talk On Flow: The Secret To Happiness
In this TED Talk, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life worth living?”. Noting that money cannot make us happy, he studies those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”
A MORNING RITUAL HELPS YOU START THE DAY FEELING ACCOMPLISHED
If you’ve ever had a day where you felt sluggish and unmotivated, you know how important checking an item off your to do list can be key for your psyche.
Positive momentum is infectious, and many studies demonstrate the effects of positive vs. negative momentum.
The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science defines psychological momentum as, “the positive or negative change in cognition, affect, physiology, and behavior caused by an event or series of events that affects either the perceptions of the competitors or, perhaps, the quality of performance and the outcome of the competition. Positive momentum is associated with periods of competition, such as a winning streak, in which everything seems to ‘go right’ for the competitors. In contrast, negative momentum is associated with periods, such as a losing streak, when everything seems to ‘go wrong’.”
“The reason momentum is so powerful is because of the heightened sense of confidence it gives us — the most important aspect of peak performance. There is a term in sport psychology known as self-efficacy, which is simply a player’s belief in his/her ability to perform a specific task or shot. Typically, a player’s success depends on this efficacy. During a momentum shift, self-efficacy is very high and players have immediate proof their ability matches the challenge. As stated earlier, they then experience subsequent increases in energy and motivation, and gain a feeling of control. In addition, during a positive momentum shift, a player’s self-image also changes. He/she feels invincible and this takes the “performer self” to a higher level.”
(Jeff Greenwald, Riding the Wave of Momentum)
A good mood and positive energy impacts your performance and productivity for the rest of day. A good mood makes a huge difference when it comes to dealing with stress and meeting your work deliverables throughout the day.
How different would your life be if you were in a better mood and had a happier disposition?
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, by creating and following a morning routine, your stress, depression, and anxiety levels will start to plummet and your life satisfaction levels will begin to soar. You’ll notice that you feel more motivated and your to-do list will seem less daunting.
“Morningness among younger adults is associated with higher positive affect across the day (Clark et al., 1989; Hasler, Allen, Sbarra, Bootzin, & Bernert, 2010). Morning types also score higher on measures of energy-alertness and lower on tiredness compared with evening types (Froberg, 1977). […] These improvements suggest that early sleep/wake times may have positive emotional effects. It is possible that shifts toward morningness can improve one’s levels of positive affect and subjective health, and do so in a similar manner across the life span. Waking up early may indeed make one happy as a lark.”
Morning routines provide physical benefits too. They make you feel more energetic and strong. When you use the time after you first wake up to do some heart-healthy cardio, muscle-building strength training, body-stretching yoga, or even go for a walk, you will also enjoy better health.
You will likely even eat fewer calories. A study conducted by Northwestern University (Role of sleep timing in caloric intake and BMI) discovered that, overall, late sleepers ate more calories on a daily basis. Specifically, they ate more at and after dinner, and they also tended to eat more fast food and fewer fruits and vegetables. Over time this means a higher risk of obesity and all of the diseases and conditions that come with it.
Physically, the reduced stress that you are likely to experience means a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes, which is a major plus when it comes to living a long, healthy life.
When you use your morning routine to engage in some type of centering behavior like meditation, journaling, or practicing visualization, you feel more at one with yourself and the rest of the universe. You have this sense of inner peace that can help you through the chaos that you may be experiencing in certain spheres of your life and that will help you stay composed regardless of what the rest of your way throws at you.
MORE QUALITY TIME
We live in a world where there are so many different demands on our time. People often say “I never have time for me!”
A morning routine helps you to intentionally create time for yourself to focus on yourself and can even improve your business.
A morning routine sets the tone for the whole day.
By beginning each day fulfilled, you tell yourself you matter. You are choosing how you intend to exist on this planet. Not living only to react to external demands on your time.
Developing a morning routine and putting your own oxygen mask first allows you to take charge of your own work-life balance by, in effect, paying yourself first. Too many of us do it the other way around and are left with no time and energy to invest by the time we get to ourselves.
As a result, too many people end up feeling at the mercy of their work and family demands.
“The morning is the best time, there are no people around. My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it.”
(Mason Currey, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work)
When you lead with your own peace and well-being, much more is possible. Something essential changes when you begin directing your day rather than responding to it.
Starting and maintaining a positive morning routine is an investment in your best self, an investment of a lifetime. It gives you structure, builds life-changing habits, and creates momentum for the rest of your day.
Your daily morning routine is the foundation for your life. If you start off each day with an arbitrary script, then you are going to get random results. Mastering your mornings will set the tone for your entire day. Once you have experienced how good it feels, you will never want to go back.
You cannot do good until you feel good. Leadership begins with self-leadership.
Your early morning routine infuses every remaining hour of your day with a perspective that elevates each area of your life. It will transform you. Make you better as a leader, lover, parent, human being, creative, sport advocate and high-achiever in any area of your life.
STRUCTURE AND SUCCESS
Morning rituals help you start your day with structure. They give you direction. They also allow you some lack of structure towards the end of your day without feeling guilty about it since you’ve already accomplished everything you’ve set out to do in the earlier hours of the morning.
“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days—which inevitably create a successful life—in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life.
By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.”
(Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning)
The level of success you are able to achieve is only as high as the level of personal development you are able to achieve and it might all start with what you do each morning!
PART 2: How to wake up early?
The key to successfully creating a morning routine actually lies in your mindset. It begins with making a decision and overcoming the “I am not a morning person” or “I am a night owl rather than an early bird” invisible script that you have created for yourself.
According to bestselling author Ramit Sethi, an “invisible script” is an assumption that is so inherent to how you view the world and your choices that you don’t even question it. It often involves an inner voice telling you what you should do, need to do, or can’t do.
So if you keep telling yourself that you’re not a morning person, your mind is going to make sure your belief is true!
Once you recognize that you have the power to change your own mindset and beliefs, it’s important to look at your habits and how successful you are at creating and sticking them.
This means that turning into a morning person both during the work-week and on week-ends require strong habits and routines.
How do you make all of this happen? Simply refer to our article on “The 16 most important rules to build powerful habits” to get all the secrets you will need to build this new habit!
There is probably someone you know that already has a habit of waking-up early. Ask them to be your accountability partner as you develop this new habit. All you need to do is send them a message or give them a call 10–15 minutes after you wake-up!
GAMIFY THE PROCESS WITH THE SEINFELD METHOD
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most successful comedians of all time.
He is regarded as one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All–Time” by Comedy Central. He was also the co–creator and co–writer of Seinfeld, the long–running sitcom which has received numerous awards and was claimed to have the “Top TV Episode of All–Time” as rated by TV Guide.
According to Forbes magazine, Jerry Seinfeld reached his peak in earnings when he made $267 million dollars in 1998. In 2008, he was still earning about $85 million per year.
However, what is the most impressive about Seinfeld’s career isn’t the awards, the earnings, or the special moments. It is instead the remarkable consistency of it all.
Show after show, year after year, he performs, creates, and entertains at an incredibly high standard. Jerry Seinfeld produces with a level of consistency that most of us wish we could bring to our daily work.
He said that he has a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page, and a red marker.
“For each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. […] After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is not to break the chain. Don’t break the chain!”
This method works, and its fun, especially when you keep it up for a while. Try it!
FIND YOUR IDEAL WAKE-UP TIME
Despite the proven research, waking-up early doesn’t necessarily have to be 4 or 5 am!
“Join The 5 O’Clock Club. Win The Battle of The Bed. Put mind over mattress. Get up early.” (Robin Sharma)
Deciding an hour when you want to wake up depends on your current activities and responsibilities, such as work, family, social life, hobbies, traveling and other.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), issues recommendations for appropriate sleep durations. The results are published in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation. For adults (26-64), the recommended sleep range is 7-9 hours.
PART 3: How to set yourself for success with a good night sleep?
MAKE A FRESH START
Remove the clutter of the day both mentally and physically.
Clean up your “to do” list. Erase from the list the tasks you have accomplished and start a new list for the new day.
Take a look at your desk before you leave the office (even if your office is at home). If papers and files are scattered all over it, is that what you want to greet you at the start the day?
FAVOR QUALITY OF SLEEP OVER QUANTITY: UNPLUG AND RECHARGE YOUR OWN BATTERY FIRST
Sleep is critical and many of us are missing it in our modern lives. It is where lots of healing happens and where our bodies detoxify while our brains process our days.
When we get less sleep, we have less energy to work with the following day. When we do this for extended periods of time without recovery, we start to break down. In our fast paced society, we are often more concerned by the battery life of our mobile devices than by our own, but it is key to know when to unplug and recharge our energy.
“You cannot run your life off your inbox.” (Arianna Huffington)
A lack of sleep can also lead to eating more, and to premature ageing.
Sleep should be celebrated as one of our most powerful productivity tool to operate at our best in life.
According to The National Sleep Foundation a short nap of 20-30 minutes can also help to improve your mood, alertness and even performance. Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali were all taking regular naps.
Remember, consistency and routine are key when it comes to creating healthy sleep habits. According to Dr. Lawrence Epstein, co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, “Our body craves routine and likes to know what’s coming.” He points out to 2 key of a good sleep: no less than 7 hours sleep per day, and as much as possible getting it during the same time frame each day.
THE TIME BEFORE YOU GO TO BED IS AN IDEAL TIME TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE MORNING
Most people think that waking-up early begins in the morning, but this is far from the truth.
First, you need to set yourself for success the night before. And there are several ways you can do that.
Bedtime rituals can make or break your morning routine.
Most of us go through life without knowing what affects our sleep and what can we do about it to make it better.
To maximise your sleep quality, these are the things you should have in mind …
- Go to bed at the same time
- Optimise your sleep and find the perfect time you should go to bed each night, and discover the ideal time you should get up to maximise energy and health
- Prepare for the next day. Instead of having to decide on these things in the morning and losing precious willpower and decision-making ability, decide on it the night before. Here are 3 things you should think about
- What are your top priorities for tomorrow? Write down your top items to complete the next day. This will release worry about what needs to get done and will be helping you to wake-up knowing your priorities.
- What clothes you will wear tomorrow? Figure out what you will be wearing the next day so you don’t waste precious time in the morning standing before your closet just gazing at the clothes that are hanging before you. You might even want to set out your exercise clothes so all you have to do is put them on when you get up, thereby encouraging you to stick with your morning exercise habi
- What meal can you plan for tomorrow?
- Reflect on the day: Time goes by fast, and if you don’t stop and reflect on things that are important to you, you will miss a lot of them. Always ask yourself what worked today? What kind of progress did you make? What are you grateful? What made you happy? Reflect. Bring closure to the day through 10 minutes of reflection. Mike asks himself, “What went well?” and “What needs improvement?” So… what went well today? How can you do more of it?
“Is there anything finer than this practice of examining one’s entire day? […] Think of the sleep that follows this self-inspection – how peaceful, deep, and free, when the mind has been either praised or admonished, when the sentinel and secret censor of the self has conducted its inquiry into one’s character.”
“When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by.”
I love Stoicism as a philosophy. Creating a practice for self-examination is one of the most powerful and essential tools that the Stoics have passed down to us. In fact, this kind of meditation, or journaling, is at the heart of their philosophy. Stoicism is not the reading of the Stoics, it is the actual doing of the teachings of those wise men and women.
“Allow not sleep to close your wearied eyes,
Until you have reckoned up each daytime deed:
‘Where did I go wrong? What did I do? And what duty’s left undone?’
From first to last review your acts and then
Reprove yourself for wretched [or cowardly] acts, but rejoice in those done well.”
Remember Epictetus’s nightly ritual and see what it can do for you!
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” (Thomas Edison)
Reid Hoffman, American entrepreneur and co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, jots down problems in a notebook that he wants his mind to work on overnight. This helps him think over different ideas in his subconscious to start his next day primed with solutions.
In Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers Reid Hoffman speaks about his tactic:
“What are the kinds of key things that might be constraints on a solution, or might be the attributes of a solution, and what are tools or assets I might have? … I actually think most of our thinking, of course is subconscious. Part of what I’m trying to do is allow the fact that we have this kind of relaxation, rejuvenation period in sleeping, to essentially possibly bubble up the thoughts and solutions to it.”
- Write things that stress you out in a journal to release them
- Picture your ideal morning: visualize your goals and dreams. This alone will influence your motivation to stay awake and stay away from the snooze button
- Have ritual nighttime activities get you ready for bed (e.g. brushing your teeth and washing your face)
- Think of activities that calm you (reading, drinking tea, taking a bath, etc.) and include some of these every night
- Remove electronics. Exposing yourself to too much blue light (from your smartphone, tablet, or computer) before bed has a negative influence on the quality of your sleep. Your exposure to the blue light of the cell phone reduces melatonin production, a much needed hormone for a restful sleep. That’s why at least 1 hour or even 30 minutes before you go to bed, go into so-called “Amish Hour,” turn off everything, and focus on yourself. Stop using devices with a screen before bed so that your mind can decompress
- Read a physical book until I fall asleep. With our busy schedules, it’s challenging to find enough time to read, but when you eliminate technology, you will easily find 30 minutes you can dedicate to reading. Whether or not it’s for personal or professional growth
- Stop the stimulants. At least 6 hours before you go to sleep, you should stop drinking coffee and alcohol, because it will mess with your sleep. You can drink green tea and water, which are a much better substitute
- Avoid eating big meals. They will burden your digestive system and lower your sleep quality. Instead have a small snack, like nuts and glass of milk, or cottage cheese which has top casein to feed your muscle whilst you sleep, so you don’t wake-up hungry
- Eat only until 7 or 8 pm. Don’t eat late. You will sleep more deeply. It’s the quality not the quantity of sleep that is most important. If your body is still digesting food when you are trying to get to sleep, you will have a tougher time falling asleep and wake-up feeling worse off than if you just stayed hungry
- Drink one glass of water. Since you are about to sleep for 6–8 hours straight, your body will need a lot of hydration
- Avoid exercising before sleep. Exercising less than 3 hours prior bedtime can keep you awake. So try to do it earlier or in the morning
- Turn the face of the alarm clock away from you so you are not constantly looking at it and its glow doesn’t keep you awake. In fact, you might even want to move it all the way across the room so that you have to physically get out of bed in order to stop its annoying beeping or buzzing in the morning!
- Keep the bedroom dark or sleep with a silk eye mask
- Spray lavender on your bed
- Use the magic of aromatherapy to create your own oasis and help meditating, relaxing, stress reduction, calming, mood enhancement, with scented candles (Aromatherapy Associates and Dyptique are great for examples), essential oils diffuser, incense
- Get a therapeutic massage. I love deep tissue sport massages regularly to release tension and recover from exercise
- Take a long bath. Whenever possible, finish your day with a deeply relaxing bathing ritual to soothe body and calm the mind. The bath oils from Espa, ranging from energizing, soothing, fitness, detoxifying, restorative and others are amazing.
- Create a playlist of relaxing music. It is a powerful ally in your daily relaxing routine. Depending on your taste, choose the type of music you find most relaxing. This can be spa music, yoga and meditation, classical music or other.
- Pay attention to the room temperature, preferably you would want to sleep in a colder room
PART 4: How to find your own perfect morning routine?
FIND AN ALARM THAT SUITS YOU
You should find a song that has an upbeat melody, slow transition, and that brings out positive moods.
You can find a lot on Spotify or iTunes!
I personally like have a sound of beach waves and birds mixed with piano melody, and associate it with empowering and motivational messages in my iPhone alarm.
DON’T LOUNGE IN BED AFTER YOUR ALARM CLOCK GOES OFF
Jump out of bed and start your day. The more time you lie in bed after the alarm clock goes off, the greater the likelihood that your inner voice will say something like “Stay in bed. Sleep a bit more. You deserve it.”
We, humans, are creatures of instant gratification.
FIND YOUR ANCHOR HABIT TO GET YOU OUT OF SLEEP MODE
For example, mine is to drink water and the freshly squeeze juice of 7 lemons – 7 is my lucky number!
Then I go on to wash my face and brush my teeth, shower, get my daily vitamins, open my windows to let fresh air in.
You need something to look forward to, which becomes somewhat of a ritual.
CHOOSE FOR “WAKING-UP LIGHT” WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Sunshine and natural light are essentials to our energy and well-being. Most people recognize they feel much more energetic during a bright, sunny, day and often enjoy a sound sleep afterwards. Dark, gloomy days, especially in winter may induce feelings of lethargy, low spirit and sleepiness.
I personally sleep without curtains and enjoy waking up with either a start of natural light and watch a bit of the sunrise or with a dark starry sky and catch a glimpse of the moon.
As human beings, we are incline to wake-up when it is light and get sleepy when it is dark.
In nature, daily life is initiated by the upcoming sun, and comes to rest after the sunset. Modern society respects different daily schedules, we often need to get up before the sunrise, and continue activities till long after the sunset. These natural gradual changes from dark to light and back to dark are, however, important cues for our bodies optimal functioning and for our sense of well-being.
Thankfully, there are also natural LED lights. Philips Wake-up Light for example brings the essence of the natural sunrise to your bedroom.
DO THIS BREATHING EXERCISE
Shawn Achor, Harvard-trained happiness researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage – the 7 principles of positive psychology that fuels performance at work, tells us to breathe and watch our breath go in and out for two minutes. He says do this every day. This allows your brain to focus on one thing at a time. Shawn Achor says it will “raise accuracy rates, improve levels of happiness, and drop stress levels.”
MAKE THE BED
However crazy this might seem, I have always found making my bed to be meditative.
My day begins with order, and I face the day with a deeper calm.
Several leaders say that making their bed is a keystone habit.
Tim Ferriss says “It’s hard for me to overstate how important this ritual has become”. Making his bed every morning is a strategy that helps him deal with all of the intangibles and curveballs that life throws at him. It gives him a sense of control over his life
Equally, Navy SEAL Commander Admiral William H. McRaven told students to make their beds every morning in incredible commencement speech in 2014:
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
I am always looking for easy tricks to keep the body and skin healthy from the inside out through powerful nutrition and here is one I can highly recommend.
Drinking lemon water, especially in the morning, is full of goodness and nutritional benefits! Drink this magic potion in the morning on an empty stomach. Do this daily for at least 3 months and see the difference it makes on your body and skin by yourself
GREET THE WORLD
This one is simple. Greet the world by stepping outside.
You might walk through the garden, or stand on your balcony and shout ‘Hello World’! or walk till your gym for your work-out or to the park to jog, or just stick your head out the window.
It’s all about connecting with our surroundings, and for many of us, nature has been pushed to the background of our daily activities.
“One of the consolations of old age is the intense pleasure I now get from nature. It seems that in youth I was too busy confronting life and experience to stand still and gaze.” (P. D. James, Time to Be in Earnest)
Don’t forget about Mother Earth. That breath of fresh air gives context to who we are in relation to the great big world, and allows for the healing that only nature can provide.
Working-out in the morning will unleash your full potential. Hit the gym. Go for a run. Or simply do a few body weight exercises in your room to get the heart rate up and get yourself sweating.
Because the benefits of an early morning exercise routine is not only limited to keeping your body in good physical shape. It can repair brain cells from stress (via a protein released in the brain called brain-like neurotrophic factor or BLNF), and boost your metabolic rate to give you the energy you need to take on the challenges of the day. When you exercise your body releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins that lead to a positive and energizing outlook on life.
Regular movement keeps us healthy and alert. It boosts energy and mood, and relieves stress.
I train (mainly weight lifting) at the gym everyday. It is my sanctuary, my secret elixir that never fails to ground me, to soothe me, to relax and to energize me at the same time. I am a firm believer that physical fitness leads to life fitness, and that the body benefits from movement in the same way the mind benefits from stillness. In fact, funny enough, my work out is my secret time to disconnect from the fast pace of the world, reflect and meditate. That physical release doesn’t just make me feel better in my body, but also in my mind, it refuels my positive energy, boosts my focus, optimizes my productivity and unleashes my creativity. It enables me to face whatever the day might bring in the other spheres of my life.
You can choose what works for you, a walk or jog; yoga or hitting the gym; whatever. People who exercise regularly experience a positive boost in mood and are generally better off when dealing with tough decisions. A byproduct of regular physical activity is improved self-esteem. I cannot under-recommend what any type of exercise/stretching will do for your health and productivity during the day. Not to mention your mental acuity. Here are some of my favourite quotes on the power of fitness in your life!
What you do outside work is just as significant for your work-productivity as what you do while you’re working.
A March 2016 study in the online issue of Neurology found that regular exercise can slow brain ageing by as much as 10 years. Loads of other research has found that people who regularly exercise are more productive at work. Your brain is, after all, part of your body. If your body is healthier, it makes sense that your brain would operate better.
If you want to operate at your highest level, you need to take a holistic approach to life. You are a system. When you change a part of any system, you simultaneously change the whole. Improve one area of your life, all other areas improve in a virtuous cycle. This is the butterfly effect in action and the basis of the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, where he discusses the idea of keystone habits. We have habits everywhere in our lives, but certain routines – keystone habits – lead to a cascade of other actions because of them, the positivity of these habits ripples into all other areas of our life, eventually transforming our whole life.
PRACTICE GRATITUDE AND TAKE THE TIME TO JOURNAL – WHAT YOU APPRECIATE APPRECIATES
It’s a simple yet powerful introspective exercise that will help you reconnect and get crystal clear of your values, your goals, and your soul’s deepest calling. Awareness is the beginning of transformation.
“The wise will start each day with the thought, “Fortune gives us nothing which we can really own.” Nothing, whether public or private, is stable; the destines of men, no less than those of cities, are in a whirl. […] We live in the middle of things which have all been destined to die. Mortal have you been born, to mortals you have given birth. Reckon on everything, expect everything.” (Seneca)
What are you grateful for today?
Expressing gratitude is another great way to center yourself and get the proper perspective before heading to the office. Writing down the people, places, and opportunities that you’re grateful for takes just a few minutes but can make a real difference in your outlook.
I get out of bed already soul nourished and feeling entirely blessed.
If you woke up tomorrow and only had the things you were thankful for today, what would you have?
Write down 3 things for which you are grateful every day.
By spending time each day expressing gratitude for all of the blessings in your life, you do two things. First, you recognize that even though things may not be exactly as you’d like, you are fortunate to have what you do. Second, the more blessings you are thankful for, the more you draw in or attract.
Come up with a list of all of the things that you are grateful for and go over it when you get up in the morning and again before you go to bed at night.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (Marcel Proust)
Be thankful for your loved ones and those dear to you, take the time to give them a call or visit them rather than simply sending a text or email …
Instead of collecting only material things, why not opt to invest more time and energy on creating and collecting priceless memories with your loved ones?
What are you grateful for today? How will you express this to the world and those you love?
A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles: gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings.
Appreciate the little things around you, like the beauty of the nature and sound of birds singing … Be grateful to wake-up with a healthy body and get moving … Be grateful to just be … Stop wasting time worried that you will never reach success or love and just start living, now … Be content with who you are while working toward where you want to be and your big dreams … Today is always the most important day of our lives.
“I always begin my day feeling totally grateful for three things. I make sure that one of them is very, very simple: the wind on my face, the reflection of the clouds that I just saw. But don’t just think gratitude. I let the gratitude fill my soul, because when you’re grateful, we all know there’s no anger. It’s impossible to be angry and grateful simultaneously. When you’re grateful, there is no fear. You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously.” (Tony Robbins in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers)
THE RITUAL OF PRIVATE REFLECTION
Today, we live in such a fast-paced, technologically wired society that we so often get caught up in the busy-ness of our day without ever pausing and asking yourself questions about the deeper things in life.
How are you living your life right now?
How are you working?
Are your daily behaviors aligned with your deepest values?
What sort of legacy do you wish to leave behind for the future generations?
What sort of impact are you creating with the work you are doing?
What is the one project that, if you did it flawlessly over the next three months, would literally change the game for you within your organization and within your marketplace?
For ideas of questions to ponder over and foster your personal growth, you can refer to the free eBook on “100 Questions to Ask Yourself to Be Your Best Self”.
Tony Robbins in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers has what he calls a “Three to Thrive”:
“Focusing on three things that I’m going to make happen, my ‘three to thrive.’ … See it as though it’s already been done, feel the emotions, etc.”
It’s your opportunity before the hectic work day and other commitments to let your mind wander and do some big picture thinking. You will be surprised how establishing quiet time like this to review where your business or career is heading can spark all kinds of breakthroughs. You can do this anywhere, including at the gym during your work-out or jogging.
MEDITATE – START THE DAY MINDFUL, NOT MIND FULL
Meditation trains our minds in the same way that hitting the gym trains our bodies. Our minds benefit from stillness, and our bodies from movement.
Practice some meditation and find your inner calm. Even if it is just 10 minutes a day. You might notice that you can handle stress better, concentrate more easily, be extra patient, increase awareness and heart health.
There are so many awesome guided meditations available for free online and for many people this is a great way to get started (or to enhance your practice).
These 8 audio tracks are a great introduction to mindfulness meditation that you can practice on your own.
Deepak Chopra’ s website has excellent guided meditations on their podcast. The sessions focus on specific themes ranging from gratitude to embracing unknowns and taking the leap of faith.
This is a wonderfully curated playlist of guided meditations for Spotify users.
YouTube is a goldmine of guided meditations. You can choose to watch & listen or just listen. The link above will bring you to a list of the most popular ones.
This site offers a wealth of guided meditations from different teachers and on many different themes. You can download them all for free or stream them directly.
To learn more about the benefits of meditation and discover some great apps to help you in this journey, read more here.
YOUR MIND EYE IS POWERFUL: PRACTICE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS AND VISUALISATION
Visualize the success you are going to enjoy. Practice positive affirmations and visualization. You attract the energy you send to the universe, so focus on sending positive vibes and believe in the law of attraction.
What we think we become. Few things are more powerful than a positive mind and a “can do” attitude.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life! For any beautiful plant to grow well, the health of the soil is most important. Nourish and nurture your soil (your minds) to provide an environment that will benefit you spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Pull out the weeds, the deeply rooted negative thinkings, and plant positive behaviors or ways of being that you want to bring into your life. That’s when you can begin to sow love, kindness, joy, happiness, humility, gratitude and peace!
See your happiness as the journey, not the destination. In today’s world it’s easy to forget that we are not human doings, rushing everything with end results, we are human beings, meant to live a fulfilled, happy and enriched life. Some people wait all week for Friday, all month for their next holiday, all year for summer, all their career for retirement, all life for happiness…
“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”
“Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate that you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.”
Happiness is not a destination it’s a journey and a state of mind… Enjoy every single day and be grateful for what you already have whilst working towards your wildest dreams.
PLAN YOUR DAY AHEAD AND WORK ON YOUR MIT (MOST IMPORTANT TASK)
Do the most important thing first. Define your top 3. Every morning ask yourself: “What are the top three most important tasks that I will complete today?” Prioritize your day accordingly and don’t sleep until the Top 3 are complete.
What’s your “Top 3” today? Think within each areas of your life: Business, Fitness, Relationship, Passions …
Disorder and chaos tend to increase as your day goes on. And the decisions and choices that you make throughout the day tend to drain your willpower. You are less likely to make a good decision at the end of the day than you are at the beginning.
I have found that this same trend holds true in my workouts as well. As the workout progresses, I have less and less willpower to finish sets, grind out reps, and perform difficult exercises.
For all of those reasons, I do my best to make sure that if there is something important that I need to do, I do it first.
If I have an important piece of work to do or presentation to prepare, I start it as soon as I wake up. If there is a tough exercise that I need to do, then I do it at the beginning of each workout.
If you do the most important thing first, then you will never have a day when you didn’t get something important done. By following this simple strategy, you will usually end up having a productive day, even if everything doesn’t go to plan. If you actually do the most important thing first each day, it is the only productivity tip you will ever need.
The quiet hours of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted. What’s more, spending time on it at the beginning of the day ensures that it gets your attention before others use it all up.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” (Mark Twain)
Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.
Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.
The author emphasizes the desirability of focusing on and accomplishing this salient task.
In the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains the importance of putting “first things, first.” To illustrate the concept, Covey puts several rocks in a bucket. When you put the little rocks in first, you can’t fit all of the big rocks. But when you start with the big rocks, the little rocks can easy fill the empty spaces. How you start something determines your trajectory
DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE MESSAGES AND SOCIAL MEDIA UPON WAKING
Don’t check your social media or email until after your 3 hours of deep work. Your morning time should be spent on output, not input!
READ THE NEWS
Whether it’s reading the papers or a book, checking blogs and social medias feeds, read bookmarked articles, saved emails or others, most successful people have a pre-breakfast ritual for getting the latest headlines.
By the time they get to work, they have a pretty good idea of what is going on in the world. Then, they can get down to the business of changing it.
Eating protein in the morning is key to blood sugar balance throughout the day and it is critical after working out to build muscles. Choose the kind of protein you like.
Whey protein after exercising, and eggs whites are excellent choices. You can also have a bit of oat and blueberries for that carbs boost.
You will avoid middle of the day slump and caffeine cravings. By eating a good breakfast, you get energized and set yourself up for a stimulant free day.
WORK ON A PERSONAL PASSION PROJECT
Writing a book or creating art is easy to skip when you have been in meetings all day, are tired and hungry. That is why many successful people put in an hour or so on their personal projects before they officially start their days.
Carving out the time in the morning for a project dear to your heart, and making it a habit, means you actually are better positioned to follow through.
It starts your day productively, and gets your creativity flowing!
CONNECT WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
In the evening, it’s more likely you’ll be tired from the day’s activities. That’s why many successful people make connecting with their partners a morning ritual.
In her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life, Laura Vanderkam helps readers build habits that lead to happier, more productive lives, despite the pressures of their busy schedules. Trough interviews and anecdotes, she reveals what the most successful people do before breakfast to jump-start the day productively and to spend quality time with their loved ones.
“Even if you don’t have kids at home, morning time can be great for nurturing your relationship with your spouse, other family members, or your close friends. One of the most disturbing “statistics” I read while researching how people use their time was that dual-income couples could find only 12 minutes a day to talk with each other.” (Laura Vanderkam)
The same applies to family. Some successful people use the mornings to invest in family time, whether reading stories to the kids or cooking a big breakfast together.
Or even if you are single and don’t have kids, use this same quality time to call your parents or sibling or best friend!
NETWORK OVER COFFEE
Especially if you like to make it home for dinner, the mornings can be a great time to meet with people for coffee or breakfast. You can do this with business contacts and even friends!
PART 5: WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE WHO WAKE UP BEFORE DAY LIGHT?
A lot of successful people attribute their high levels of accomplishment partly to creating strong morning routines.
Waking up early has been a common trait of many creative, writers and musicians throughout history.
CEOs and entrepreneurs who relay their morning routines also frequently credit their morning routine as a key enabler for their success. They must set aside their first hours of the day to invest in their top-priority activities before other people’s priorities come rushing in.
Nearly 50% of the wealthy people researched by Corley, who wrote the book Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, say they wake up at least three hours before their workday starts. Many use the time to tackle side projects, work out, or plan.
SUCCESSFUL EARLY BIRDS IN HISTORY
The Founding Father Of The United States, and co-author of The Declaration Of Independence had a morning ritual of waking up at 4 am, which would involve proactively thinking about what he would accomplish for that day. He would ask himself the question:
“What good shall I do this day?”
And at the end of the night, Franklin asked himself:
“What good have I done today?”
He also listed 13 character traits he wanted to build and measured how he lived against each of them every night before he slept (in a journal).
He is one of Benjamin Franklin’s calendar-checklists of virtues, marking how he performed at his thirteen virtues: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.
His routine was incredibly organized.
Franklin tried a divide-and-conquer approach. He drew up a list of virtues and wrote a brief goal for each one, like this one for Order:
“Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
He sat naked every morning in fresh air for his “bath” which he swore fuelled his energy and creativity.
His morning to-do list highlighted a specific routine as his notes reflect that he set out to:
“Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness; contrive day’s business and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study; and breakfast.”
The British Statesman and former Prime Minister of the United-Kingdom (from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955) woke up around 7:30 am.
“I start the day by working from bed.”
Winston Churchill’s daily routine changed little during the years. He remained in bed for a substantial breakfast and reading of mail and all the national newspapers. For the next couple of hours, still in bed, he worked, dictating to his secretaries. At 11:00 am he arose, bathed, and perhaps took a walk around the garden, and took a weak whisky and soda to his study.
Honore De Balzac
The French novelist and playwright’s writing schedule was brutal.
Balzac’s work habits are legendary. Through incredible focus and dedication, hH drove himself relentlessly as a writer. This is his own description, written in March 1833, of a punishing work schedule:
“I go to bed at six or seven in the evening, like the chickens; I’m waked at one o’clock in the morning, and I work until eight; at eight I sleep again for an hour and a half; then I take a little something, a cup of black coffee, and go back into my harness until four. I receive guests, I take a bath, and I go out, and after dinner I go to bed.”
He ate a light dinner at 6 pm, then went to bed. At 1 am he rose and sat down at his writing table for 7 hour of work. At 8 am he allowed himself a 90-minute nap.
Then, from 9:30 am to 4 pm, he resumed work, drinking cup after cup of black coffee.
“Coffee falls into the stomach … ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop … the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similes arise, the paper is covered with ink… ”
According to one estimate, he drank as many as 50 cups a day! Many elite performers use this drink as a productivity tool. But Balzac didn’t do this in moderation and drank 50 cups a day. Sadly, he died from a heart attack at 51.
At 4 pm. Balzac took a walk, had a bath, and received visitors until 6 pm, when the cycle started all over again.
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
The English naturalist and biologist woke up around 7- 7:45 am to take a short walk.
In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, the author Mason Currey highlights Darwin’s day and how morning was his most productive time:
“The first, and best, of his work periods began at 8 am after Darwin had taken a short walk and had a solitary breakfast. Following ninety minutes of focused work in his study—disrupted only by occasional trips to the snuff jar that he kept on a table in the hallway—Darwin met his wife, Emma, in the drawing room to receive the day’s post. He read his letters, then lay on the sofa to hear Emma read the family letters aloud. When the letters were done, Emma would continue reading aloud, switching to whatever novel she and her husband were currently working their way through.
At 10:30 Darwin returned to his study and did more work until noon or a quarter after. He considered this the end of his workday, and would often remark in a satisfied voice, “I’ve done a good day’s work.””
The American poet, writer and civil rights activist was writing in a cheap and simple hotel room which she rented. She was waking-up at home around 5:30 am each morning, had coffee with her husband and then went to the hotel room to do seriously productive work by 7 am.
In 1983, she told an interviewer:
“I keep a hotel room in which I do my work—a tiny, mean room with just a bed, and sometimes, if I can find it, a face basin. I keep a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards and a bottle of sherry in the room. I try to get there around 7, and I work until 2 in the afternoon. If the work is going badly, I stay until 12:30. If it’s going well, I’ll stay as long as it’s going well. It’s lonely, and it’s marvelous. I edit while I’m working. When I come home at 2, I read over what I’ve written that day, and then try to put it out of my mind. I shower, prepare dinner, so that when my husband comes home, I’m not totally absorbed in my work. We have a semblance of a normal life. We have a drink together and have dinner. Maybe after dinner I’ll read to him what I’ve written that day. He doesn’t comment. I don’t invite comments from anyone but my editor, but hearing it aloud is good. Sometimes I hear the dissonance; then I try to straighten it out in the morning.”
The 17th century English poet was totally blind for the last 20 years of his life, yet he managed to produce a steady stream of writing, including his magnum opus, the ten-thousand-line epic poem Paradise Lost.
He devoted the morning to solitary contemplation in bed, beginning at 4 am (5 am in the winter).
In his book Daily Rituals author Mason Currey describes John Milton’s daily routine:
“Milton devoted the morning to solitary contemplation in bed, beginning at 4am. He had an aide read to him from the Bible for half an hour. Then he was left alone to compose as many lines as his memory could retain. At 7am, Milton’s aid returned to take dictation. After dictation, his aide would read to him until lunch was served at noon. He would spend a few hours walking in his garden during the afternoon. In the later afternoon and evening he received visitors, ate a light supper, smoked a pipe, and went to bed at about 9pm.”
The English-American poet is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets.
He wrote in 1958:
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
The poet was obsessively punctual and lived by an exacting timetable throughout his life
“Eating, drinking, writing, shopping, crossword puzzles, even the mailman’s arrival–all are timed to the minute and with accompanying routines.”
“A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”
He was up around 6am, had coffee and settled down to work. His mind was sharpest from 7 until 11:30 am and he rarely failed to take advantage of these hours. He was dismissive of night owls and refused to work in the evening:
“Only the ‘Hitlers of the world’ work at night; no honest artist does.”
He kept his energy level with amphetamines and called them the “labour-saving device of the mental kitchen”.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
The German composer and pianist rose at dawn and counted out exactly 60 coffee beans each morning.
He sat at his desk and worked until 2 or 3 pm, taking the occasional break to walk outdoors, which he claimed triggered his creativity.
He is said to have developed most of his compositions through long walks. He always carried a pencil and a couple of sheets of music paper in his pocket, to record chance musical thoughts.
Beethoven also had an obsessive bathing habit, which was another way for him to get his creative juice flowing in the morning. His pupil and secretary Anton Schindler recalled them in the biography Beethoven As I Knew Him:
“Washing and bathing were among the most pressing necessities of Beethoven’s life. In this respect he was indeed an Oriental: to his way of thinking Mohammed did not exaggerate a whit in the number of ablutions he prescribed. If he did not dress to go out during the morning working hours, he would stand in great dishabille at his washstand and pour large pitchers of water over his hands, bellowing up and down the scale or sometimes humming loudly to himself. Then he would stride around his room with rolling or staring eyes, jot something down, then resume his pouring of water and loud singing. These were moments of deep meditation, to which no one could have objected but for two unfortunate consequences. First of all, the servants would often burst out laughing. This made the master angry and he would sometimes assault them in language that made him cut an even more ridiculous figure. Or, secondly, he would come into conflict with the landlord, for all too often so much water was spilled that it went right through the floor. This was one of the main reasons for Beethoven’s unpopularity as a tenant. The floor of his living room would have had to be covered with asphalt to prevent all that water from seeping through. And the master was totally unaware of the excess of inspiration under his feet!”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“When I am … completely myself, entirely alone … or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”
The Austrian composer created a string of operas, concertos, symphonies and sonatas that profoundly shaped classical music. He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music.
In a letter to his sister penned in 1782, Mozart outlines a routine so intense that it left him a mere five hours of night’s sleep:
“At six o’clock in the morning I have my hair dressed, and have finished my toilet by seven o’clock. I write till nine. From nine to one I give lessons. I then dine, unless I am invited out, when dinner is usually at two o’clock, sometimes at three, as it was to-day, and will be to-morrow at Countess Zichi’s and Countess Thun’s. I cannot begin to work before five or six o’clock in the evening, and I am often prevented doing so by some concert; otherwise I write till nine o’clock. I then go to my dear Constanze, though our pleasure in meeting is frequently embittered by the unkind speeches of her mother, which I will explain to my father in my next letter.
Thence comes my wish to liberate and rescue her as soon as possible. At half-past ten or eleven I go home, but this depends on the mother’s humor, or on my patience in bearing it. Owing to the number of concerts, and also the uncertainty whether I may not be summoned to one place or another, I cannot rely on my evening writing, so it is my custom (especially when I come home early) to write for a time before going to bed. I often sit up writing till one, and rise again at six.”
Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize winner and novelist, was up at 5:30 am every morning to write. He wrote as a practice, not just when he felt inspired.
Ernest Hemingway, who famously wrote standing (“Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.”),
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
In a 1958 interview with The Paris Review, Hemingway explains his daily routine and work habits.
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.
You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until that next day that is hard to get through.”
In 1965, Kurt Vonnegut, famous American author wrote a letter to his wife, Jane, where he reveals his morning routine and daily writing habits.
“I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach of prepare.
When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten.
I do push ups and sit ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not.”
In a 2004 Paris review interview with John Wray, Murakami, regarded as one of the world’s greatest novelists, reveals his daily routine and habits for success, including an early morning wake-up.
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine pm.
I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.
But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”
Murakami has said that maintaining this repetition for the time required to complete a novel takes more than mental discipline:
“Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”
He was running daily.
The one drawback to this self-made schedule, Murakami admitted in a 2008 essay, is that it doesn’t allow for much of a social life.
“People are offended when you repeatedly turn down their invitations […] My readers would welcome whatever life style I chose, as long as I made sure each new work was an improvement over the last. And shouldn’t that be my duty—and my top priority—as a novelist?”
The famous English novelist was prolific. He produced fifteen novels, ten of which are longer than eight hundred pages, and numerous stories, essays, letters, and plays, but he could not be productive without certain conditions in place, and starting early every day.
He needed absolute quiet; at one of his houses, an extra door had to be installed to his study to block out noise.
Dickens’s working hours were invariable. His eldest son recalled that:
“No city clerk was ever more methodical or orderly than he; no humdrum, monotonous, conventional task could ever have been discharged with more punctuality or with more business-like regularity, than he gave to the work of his imagination and fancy.”
He rose at 7 am, had breakfast at 8 am, and was in his study by 9 am. He stayed there until 2:pm, taking a brief break for lunch with his family, before hurrying back to his desk.
On an ordinary day he could complete about two thousand words in this way, but he sometimes managed twice that amount. Other days, however, he would hardly write anything; nevertheless, he stuck to his work hours without fail.
Promptly at 2 pm, Dickens left his desk for a vigorous three-hour walk through the countryside or the streets of London, continuing to think of his story and, as he described it, “searching for some pictures I wanted to build upon.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Michael Gelb, the author of How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci tells us that:
“The genius of Leonardo resides not just in what he created by in what he can inspire us to create. Beyond all his stellar achievements, Leonardo da Vinci serves as a global archetype of human potential, giving us intimations of what we ourselves may be capable of doing.”
One of the strong morning habits of Leonardo da Vinci which Michael Gelb reveals in the book was his practice of self-affirmations.
“Although he experienced self-doubt and questioned the value of his efforts, he never gave up. Leonardo’s courage and persistence in the face of adversity are tremendously inspiring. He strengthened his will to continue his work through affirmations that he wrote in his notebook, such as:
‘I do not depart from my furrow.’
‘Obstacles do not bend me.’
‘Every obstacle is destroyed through rigor.’
‘I shall continue.’
‘I never tire of being useful.’”
Self-affirmations are a powerful tool that keeps you focused on your goals in life. Many leaders and entrepreneurs today are religiously following his habits of self-affirming. Self-affirmations come in many different techniques but they all serve a single purpose: to send positive energy out to the world, stay focused and achieve set goals. Believe in the law of attraction. The question isn’t “Can You?” It’s “Will You?”
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” (Leonardo Da Vinci)
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” (Leonardo Da Vinci)
All signs point to the source of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius as being his unquenchable hunger for learning and his curiosity. He sought out the truth in mathematics, engineering, inventing, anatomy, painting, sculpting, architecture, botany, music and writing.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” (Leonardo Da Vinci)
To that effect, he decided that he spent too much time on sleep and invented his own sleep method to spend little time for sleep, but he did not suffer from doing so. He slept only an hour and a half per day! His secret was sleeping by naps, for 15 minutes every 4 hours. And he lived like that during not a week, but many years.
“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” (Leonardo Da Vinci)
Many people say that it was the exact secret of his efficiency. Today it is called a polyphasic sleep.
Why does it work? Psychologists say that after sleep our working capacity increases from 6 to 10 times as much. And wise Leonardo used it to the fullest extent.
Of Leornado da Vinci’s possible adoption of this practice, sleep researcher Claudio Stampi writes in his 1992 book, Why We Nap:
“One of his secrets, or so it has been claimed, was a unique sleep formula: he would sleep 15 minutes out of every four hours, for a daily total of only 1.5 hours of sleep. Therefore, it appears he was able to gain an extra six productive hours a day. By following this unique regimen, he ‘gained’ an additional 20 years of productivity during his 67 years of life.”
Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before emigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City.
One of the greatest inventors of the world, he claimed to sleep just 2 – 3 hours a day.
“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.” (Nikola Tesla)
Tesla’s ability to survive on little sleep wasn’t something he implemented when he realised he had too many inventions and too little time. In his book, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla, author John J. O’Neil says Tesla was terrible at sleeping, even when he was just a boy:
“By plugging the keyhole and the chinks around his door, he was able to spend the night hours reading volumes purloined from his father’s bookshelves. Frequently, he said, he would read throughout the entire night, and feel none the worse for the loss of sleep. Eventual discovery, however, brought paternal discipline of a vigorous nature. He was about 11 years old at this time.”
“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would really astound ourselves.”
“Success is the product of the severest kind of mental and physical application.”
The to-do list might be the secret to willpower, and it is certainly an essential tool of creativity and Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman, has an incredibly ambitious to-do list. He reportedly slept a mere three to four hours at night, “regarding sleep as a waste of time, ‘a heritage from our cave days,’” as James Maas tells us in his 1997 productivity bestseller Power Sleep.
In fact, Edison is often accused of having forever disrupted our internal clocks with his invention of the light bulb, some researchers go as far as estimating that artificial light has stripped modern life of 1-2 hours of sleep per night.
David K. Randall writes in Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
“Thanks to Edison, sunset no longer meant the end of your social life; instead, it marked the beginning of it.
Yet all of the artificial light in use around the world before Edison developed his light bulb amounted to the brightness of a match compared to the lights of Times Square.”
Edison used napping instead of long straight sleep to counterbalance. Most days, he took one or two brief naps, on his famous cots, outdoors in the grass, and even on a chair or stool if no better option was available. Per multiple first-hand accounts, he always awoke from his naps reinvigorated rather than groggy, ready to devour the rest of the day with full alertness and zest. Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Martin write of the West Orange laboratory in Edison: His Life And Inventions:
“As one is about to pass out of the library attention is arrested by an incongruity in the form of a cot, which stands in an alcove near the door. Here Edison, throwing himself down, sometimes seeks a short rest during specially long working hours. Sleep is practically instantaneous and profound, and he awakes in immediate and full possession of his faculties, arising from the cot and going directly “back to the job” without a moment’s hesitation…”
In their book, the authors also note Edison’s habits and cognitive dissonance about sleep was intrinsically linked to his extreme compulsion for productivity. They cite an anecdote in which Edison tells his friend Milton Adams:
“I have got so much to do and life is so short, I am going to hustle.”
SUCCESSFUL EARLY BIRDS IN MODERN TIME
Sir Richard Branson
The founder of Virgin Group says that maintaining a good morning routine is no different than having a positive outlook, or staying in shape, you must work to maintain it but it’s well worth the effort:
“Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life.”
“No matter where I am in the world, I try to routinely wake up at around 5am. By rising early, I’m able to do some exercise and spend time with my family, which puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.”
“I leave the curtains undrawn and the sun comes up at 5:45am and straight in my eyes. I love bouncing up early.”
His morning ritual consists of a swim around his island or goes kite-surfing if it’s windy, then plays tennis before sitting down for a healthy breakfast.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins calls his empowering morning ritual his “Hour Of Power”, but sometimes will do “30 Minutes To Thrive” or at least “15 Minutes For Fulfillment”. Tony claims that a major element of his sustained energy and focus comes from his intense and unusual morning ritual.
He takes a different approach to his mornings. He gets into his Jacuzzi followed by immediately immersing himself in water that is 57 degrees. He also utilizes a process called cryotherapy (in which your body temperature is decreased by nitrogen gases) for three minutes to “reset” his nervous system and relieve him of any inflammation he may have.
Here is a video to Tony Robbins Hour of Power:
The legendary editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine wakes up at 5:45 am each day to play an hour of tennis, after which her hairstylist arrives to blow-dry her bob, after which her driver takes her to the office.
The Founder of Apple Computers spent his mornings re-evaluating his work and desires. In his speech to a graduating class at Stanford, Jobs said that he would look at himself in the mirror every morning and ask himself a simple question: “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.”
Whenever the answer had been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, he knew he needed to change something.
Steve Jobs told The Time back in 1999 about how he started his days:
“I’ll wake up sixish and work a little before the kids get up. Then we’ll have a little food, finish up some homework, and see them off to school. If I’m lucky I’ll work at home for another hour, but oftentimes I’ll have to come in. I usually get [to Apple] about nine. Eight or nine. Having worked about an hour and a half or two hours at home.”
One of the founding members of the Glitch Mob has a morning routine that works for him as well. In an interview with Tim Ferriss, he revealed that he doesn’t look at his phone or computer for the first 60 minutes he is awake. Instead, he drinks a cup of tea, spends 20 minutes engaged in transcendental meditation, does a quick work-out (like kettle bell swings), eats breakfast, and then reads for another 20 minutes.
The internet entrepreneur founded the classified advertisement website Craigslist, that has grown to service over 50 countries since 1995.
He starts his mornings early, and by doing something that focuses on customer service and answering complaints, which he says anchors him to reality.
He considers himself a customer service rep at Craigslist. So while other executives might start their days with meetings or email, Newmark focuses on the customer.
The CEO of Yahoo only gets about 4 to 6 hours of sleep. She recharges by taking weeklong vacations every four months.
She famously went extreme in her approach and said that during her first five years at Google, she pulled an all-nighter every week. “I don’t really believe in burnout,” she said in a 2013 speech at New York’s 92nd Street Y.
She says her early morning and first hour of work is crucial for setting an agenda to help her stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Mayer tells Money she creates a task list each day with “five high-priority things to focus on,” as well as “a list for each person I work with or interact with, of what they’re working on or what I expect from them.” Her task list is always numbered, so from the very start of her day she can see what to prioritize. She also doesn’t stress about ticking off all the jobs. “If I did [get to the bottom of the list], it would be a real bummer,” Mayer shared at a Sales Force Dreamforce conference. “Because think about all those things at the very bottom of your to-do list that really shouldn’t take time out of your day.”
The CEO of Apple wakes up at 3h45 am.
Once he’s up, he gets to work reading through some of the 700 to 800 emails he gets every day. He once told ABC that he’s “a bit of a workaholic” who reads “the majority of those” messages.
Next, he hits the gym around 5 am. It is reported that he takes fitness seriously. He has credited his Apple Watch with helping him keep in shape and even lose weight.
He is in the office for 6.30 am, doing a day’s work before a relatively-early 9.30 pm/10pm bedtime.
Square CEO described his morning routine to New York Magazine, revealing that he wakes up at 5h30 am to meditate and go for a 6-mile run.
He kept up that routine even during a period when he shuttled back and forth between Square and Twitter, spending around eight hours a day at both companies.
Cisco’s former chief technical and strategy officer is one of the most well-known women in business today.
Her morning routine consists of waking up at 4:30 am, reading her email for an hour, checking out the news, exercising, and prepping her son for school … all before 8:30 am!
AOL CEO wakes up so early, he has to hold himself back from sending emails and interrupting the morning habits of others (i.e. sleeping). He wakes up at 5 am, and starts sending emails around 7 am.
He told the Guardian:
“I am not a big sleeper and never have been. Life is too exciting to sleep. Arianna Huffington is preaching sleep to me all the time, but I will need a DNA transplant to adhere to her advice. She is right, but I just can’t do it. I have three kids and my middle daughter (nine) has my sleep DNA, so she gets up and I drink coffee and she tells me about her life.”
During those two hours, Armstrong exercises and reads. He also chats with his middle daughter, who is an early riser.
Xerox CEO wakes up by 5:15 am.
She uses early-morning hours to get caught up on emails, to fit in a workout, including an hour of personal training at 6 am twice a week.
Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, rarely arrives at the office past 8 am.
He wakes up early and told the Guardian that the first thing he does is generally working out:
“I often exercise (running or gym), especially when I am travelling.”
Before he goes to work, he works out and sends emails. His company’s nights and days morph into each other:
“Our company never sleeps: We have business in 180 countries, so there are no real mornings or nights.”
Vodafone CEO told the Guardian that gets up at 6am, exercises for 40 minutes then works continuously through the day with constant emails and meetings.
Paul English, cofounder of Kayak and travel startup, Blade, tells Inc. he wakes up by 6 am.
“I always wake up with a lot of energy and more ideas than I can get done in a day. I usually meditate for a few minutes to quiet my mind before I get out of bed. I get up around 6 every morning. After I check e-mail on my BlackBerry, I go exercise. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years. I built a meditative room in my house.”
Talk Show Host, Actress, Philanthropist, Publisher and Producer, Oprah says of her wake-up time:
“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!” I hop up, brush my teeth and go take the dogs to do their thing. They do the real downward-facing dog!”
Oprah’s morning ritual consists of clearing her mind with at least 20 minutes of meditation.
Oprah says about after her morning ritual:
“I walked away feeling fuller than when I’d come in. Full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy. Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is — still — the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life.”
She follows her meditation by getting on her treadmill for a little bit. Also she gets tuned in by playing scrabble in her iPad, sometimes walking on the treadmill and playing scrabble in her iPad simultaneously.
Lastly, right before getting to work she eats a healthy breakfast.
In this video by Evan Carmichel, she describes her morning routine:
The Founder of The Huffington Post and Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington, has a morning ritual which begins every morning with 30 minutes of meditation. She’s so convinced of the benefits that she offers weekly classes to her employees. She keeps her smartphone and other gadgets away and follows this up with her Yoga practice and 30 minutes on her stationary bike when she is home.
She stresses the importance of what she does not do in her morning rituals:
“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.”
The force behind publishing giant Huffington Post is a dedicated propagator of the idea of eight hours of sleep following her own infamous burnout caused by not sleeping enough.
On waking up with an alarm, she says:
“I love waking up without an alarm. Just think about the definition of the word “alarm”: “a sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger; apprehension; fright,” or “any sound, outcry, or information intended to warn of approaching danger.” So an alarm, in most situations, is a signal that something is not right. Yet most of us rely on some kind of alarm clock; a knee-jerk call to arms; to start the day, ensuring that we emerge from sleep in full fight-or-flight mode, flooded with stress hormones and adrenaline as our body readies itself for danger.
And no, I don’t believe in the snooze button. On days when I have to use my alarm, I always set it for the last possible moment I have to get up.”
She also recognizes the importance of “letting it go” sometimes, despite having strong morning routines:
“Being committed to a routine is, of course, what makes it a routine. That said, on some days life intervenes or we get off track. And when this happens, I try not to judge myself or let it negatively influence the rest of my day.
I’m a big proponent of silencing the voice of self-judgement and self-doubt in our heads, which I call the obnoxious roommate. It’s the voice that feeds on putting us down and strengthening our insecurities and doubts. I have spent many years trying to evict my obnoxious roommate and have now managed to relegate her to only occasional guest appearances in my head!”
The Founder of Microsoft wakes up early and starts off his morning ritual taking care of his body by spending an hour on the treadmill while watching courses from The Teaching Company (which is a comprehensive learning course that touches every topic imaginable). His topics of predilection would include geology, meteorology, oceanography, and U.S. history.
Bill Gates actually does get sleep: he told The Seattle Times “I like to get seven hours of sleep”, adding that getting plenty of rest is essential to boosting his creativity. However, in 1997, he confessed an envy of short sleepers, who had “so much more time to learn, work, and play.”
He also checks the headlines every morning. He typically reads The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.
The 44th President of the USA Barack Obama starts his morning 2 hours before any scheduled event or meeting for that day. He begins with a 45 minute cardio and weight routine. He once stated:
“The rest of my time will be more productive if you give me my workout time.”
The top two rules of President Obama’s morning routine: never miss a workout and always eat breakfast, according to Reggie Love, who served as Obama’s personal aide from 2009 to 2011, and shared his experience in The White House in his book, Power Forward: My Presidential Education.
When he was President, the demands on his time were enormous during the day. But President Barack Obama made a point to find two large chunks of time during the day when he can be alone with his thoughts. A precious one was his morning workout time.
Post workout, he typically enjoys eggs and wheat toast for breakfast while catching up on ESPN’s SportsCenter and reading the news.
Discover this great video in Business Insider where Reggie Love describes Obama’s morning routine.
It has been reported that President Obama gets an average of five hours of sleep a night. Since the normal adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be fully functional throughout the course of the day, Barack Obama’s morning routine is crucial.
Barak Obama doesn’t drink coffee, and prefers water, green tea, or orange juice.
Before she became the first African-American First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama was a lawyer and now she continues to be a spokesperson for many social causes.
One habit that she picked up quite early was finding time to exercise as soon she woke up.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she said
“There’s a small gym here that has everything we need. I work out about four or five days a week—and Barack does six. He’s a workout zealot.”
“I do treadmill, I do weights.[…] I also do some jump rope, some kickboxing—and I’d like to take up Pilates, if I could figure out whether there’s time. After I had Malia, I began to prioritize exercise because I realized that my happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself, even if that means I have to get up at 4:30 so I can do a workout.”
In this interview, she said that working out was only to make sure that she felt good about herself and this was a confidence boost. This allowed her to take up new projects with renewed vigour and face each day with high energy. When Oprah expressed surprise over Michelle Obama’s routine of waking up at 4:30 am to work out, she responded:
“If I had to wake up for work, I’d get up and go. If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed. Of course, it’s easier to do it here, because I have much more support now. But I always think about women who don’t have support. That’s why work-family balance isn’t just a policy conversation; it’s about changing the expectations of who we have to be as women and parents.”
Indra Nooyi is best known for being the CEO of PepsiCo, where she is both the first woman and first person born outside of the US to hold the title.
She was also twice named the No. 1 most powerful woman in the world by Fortune magazine.
Like many other CEOs and leaders, Nooyi starts her day earlier than everyone else, waking up at 4 am and getting to the office by 7 am.
During this time window, after she gets up she meditates for 15-30 minutes. She clears her mind completely so that she can begin each and every day completely fresh. Next Indra reads the news while enjoying a cup of tea. Then she works out for an hour and a half.
She also claims that she never craved sleep, and it is something she can do without.
She told the Harvard Business Review that her daily inspiration to keep PepsiCo growing and her design thinking approach is rooted in a sense of the rebelliousness she developed as a child growing up in the socially conservative city of Madras (now Chennai), India. She explains:
“In those days, there was a well-defined conservative stereotype, so everything I did was breaking the framework. I played in a rock band. I climbed trees. I did stuff that made my parents wonder, “What the hell is she doing?” But I also was a good student and a good daughter, so I never brought shame on the family. And I was lucky that the men in my family thought the women should have an equal shot at everything. I’m still a bit of a rebel, always saying that we cannot sit still. Every morning you’ve got to wake up with a healthy fear that the world is changing, and a conviction that, to win, you have to change faster and be more agile than anyone else.”
According to a New York Times profile, General Motors CEO Mary Barra was regularly at the office by 6 am, and that was before she even became CEO.
The CEO of General Electric gets up at 4:30 am in the morning every day for a cardio workout, during which he reads the papers and watches CNBC.
You can watch this video of his intense morning routine.
The CEO of Ellevest claims that she is her most productive at 4 am in the morning and wakes up at 4 am for creative thinking time.
The former Citigroup CFO writes in a LinkedIn post that she’s never more productive than she is at 4 am.
“For me, the most precious commodity in business is time. And I find I am most productive when I balance time that I spend with others with blocks of time during which I can think, write and —my favorite — build earnings models.”
That’s when her mind is clearest, she explains, since she’s not yet caught up in the day’s internal conversations. Perhaps not unrelated, it’s also when she finds she’s the most creative. She says she feels happy and grateful knowing that her family is sleeping upstairs while she is at work.
“I work when others sleep.
I am never more productive than at 4 am. I brew a cup of coffee, I keep the lights pretty low, I sometimes light a fire in the fireplace, and I let my daughter’s cat sleep next to my computer. My mind is clear, not yet caught up in the multiple internal conversations that we all conduct with ourselves once we gear up for our first meeting of the day. And there’s a peace that comes from knowing that my family is all in bed and safe upstairs while I work. It is at this time of day that I often have a rush of ideas (some of them actually good).”
After drinking her morning cup of coffee, she says she reflects on the day that went by, but soon focuses on creating space for newer ideas for the day ahead.
She mentioned her “Power Breakfast” habit:
“Me and my cat, in my kitchen, with my Power bar and my coffee—generally at 4 am I have the cat in my lap and computer at the ready. I get up super early because that’s when I do my best unguarded thinking. I wake up with about seven ideas, one of which might even be good.”
She also explains how she balances her early morning routine with time for her family in the evening:
“Yes, this does mean I have to go to sleep earlier, but I long ago recognized that I am out of gas by about 8 pm. every evening. Any work that I try to do after that isn’t up to my standards anyway, so I give myself a break then. I use that time to be with my children, to socialize … and to get to sleep so that I can start again at 4 am.”
The Starbucks CEO wakes up before 5:00 am.
Helena Morrissey is the former CEO of Newton Investment mother of nine and founder of the 30 Percent Club – a ground breaking campaign working to get more women in every boardroom.
She wakes up at 5 am.
In an interview with Harper Bazaar, she explained her morning routine:
“5am I wake up, get out of bed immediately and go downstairs to check emails on my computer and Blackberry. I get a good hour to myself because no one else is up. I also work out what I’m going to wear (usually a dress and a pair of Louboutins – always heels) and try to put a couple of loads of washing on before I go to work.
6.20am I help to make sure the family gets breakfast, with everybody mucking in a bit.
7.30am Leave for work. I have a short commute on the Circle Line from Notting Hill to Blackfriars and I pick up breakfast on the way – always a strong cappuccino and porridge.”
She gets five to six hours of sleep each night. She told the Guardian:
“How much sleep do you get?
Five to six hours. This is as much to do with having nine children as having a business job, but I do end up feeling a bit sleep-deprived. There isn’t a lot of slack. I put on the washing about twice before I go to work. People make resolutions to do more things, but one of my ambitions for 2013 is to do slightly less. With children, you end up adjusting, and not needing so much sleep. But every now and again, you think: oh, I could do with a proper eight hours.”
Her advice to women is to be resilient.
“A career is more a labyrinth than a ladder — everyone’s has twists and turns. When I talk to young women they say ‘it’s all very well for you’ but you don’t start off as CEO, and every day is full of triumphs and disasters.”
Earvin “Magic” Johnson
The NBA legend wakes up at 4 AM and finds time to be quiet.
“I believe in being still. And what I mean by that: I don’t care who it is, whether it’s a CEO, a president, or a vice president…you should always be still in the morning to gather your thoughts and get ready for your day.”
PART 6: Resources (Books, Apps, Meditations, Ted Talks, Quotes…)
MANTRAS & BRAIN TATTOOS
A GREAT VIDEO ON WAKING-UP EARLY by leadership coach Robin Sharma
THE 10 MORNING ROUTINES OF SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS by Evan Carmichel
MORNING RITUALS OF TONY ROBBINS, OPRAH, STEVE JOBS, LADY GAGA AND THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE
VIDEO TO EXPLAIN THE COGNITIVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EARLY BIRDS AND NIGHT OWLS
INFOGRAPHIC ON THE DAILY ROUTINES OF FAMOUS CREATIVE PEOPLE
Want to develop a better work routine? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds organized their days.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).
Keen to develop better work habits? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds scheduled creative work into their daily routines.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).
From early birds to night owls – discover the sleeping habits of some of the world’s greatest minds.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).
TIM FERRISS SHOW EPISODE ON MORNING ROUTINES AND STRATEGIES
7 APPS TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS AND BUILD NEW HABITS
Nozbe is good for tracking my goals, habits, and daily tasks. You can set up each goal as a project and then create milestones, tasks, and habits related to each goal.
GoalsOnTrack allows you to record the goal, the purpose, start date, end date, metrics, subgoals, habits, and action plans.
The philosophy behind LifeTick is to start by defining your Core Values.
Once you’ve defined your values, you define goals and then add the tasks or steps required to achieve the goal. LifeTick recommends SMART goals. And it provides multi-user functionality, so you can invite others into your goals, either globally or selectively
Strides gives you the sense that you are looking at a dashboard for your life.
The program isn’t so much a goal planning program as a goal and habit tracking program.
Coach.Me started with the premise that you have a better chance of reaching your goals and establishing new habits if you crowdsource feedback and encouragement.
One of the best features of Coach.Me is the ability to create plans. These are a set of actionable steps designed to accomplish a specific goal. Once designed, you can share them with the community. As a user, you can also join plans created by others. There are hundreds. Just the list will stimulate your creativity and expand your sense of what is possible. But the key distinguishing feature is how it integrates personal coaching. For $15 a month you can hire a coach to help guide and encourage you.
6) Habit List
If you simply want to track habits, Habit List helps you track “streaks”, or how many times in a row you have completed an action.
irunurun is most intuitive and “gamifies” the process of building new habits, making the process fun.
16 AWESOME APPS TO KICK-OFF YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
1) Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
An intelligent alarm clock that analyzes your sleep and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase – the natural way to wake up feeling rested and relaxed. No need to place your device in bed – Sleep Cycles uses sound analysis sleep tracking.
2) Morning Ritual
The quality of your morning determines the rest of your day!
Make sure it is as productive and focused as possible. The Morning Ritual app makes it easy for users to create daily activities and set a designated time for each of them.
After turning off an in-app alarm, the countdown begins: items you’ve added to your checklist (make coffee, meditate, walk the dog) start ticking timers until you check them off. See routines from other users for added inspiration.
Spotify is a great app no matter the time of day … but there are some really cool “morning-friendly” features worth mentioning.
For example, Spotify teamed up with music psychologist David M. Greenberg to create the perfect, science-backed morning playlist. Designed to help people rise a little easier, this playlist includes songs like Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” Sam Smith’s “Money On My Mind,” and Imagine Dragon’s “On Top of the World.”
We’ve highlighted the benefits of mindfulness and meditation before… and some of the best apps for mindfulness. In an effort to set a positive tone for your day ahead, the Calm app is particularly good as it offers over two-dozen guided morning meditation sessions for you to choose from.
Organize your closet, create looks, plan outfits, get inspired by stylists … Stylicious helps you manage your closet and create outfits for the day ahead while you’re still in bed! To get started, simply add items to your “virtual closet” by taking a photo. Once you’ve catalogued your wardrobe, you can mix and match pieces until you come up with a combination that looks just right.
Pocket is your place to quickly save, discover, and recommend the stories that interest you. The next time you find an article, video or link you want to read or watch later, just save it to Pocket. It’ll sync across your phone, tablet, and computer so you can come back to it whenever and wherever you’d like, even when you’re offline, for example during your morning daily commutes!
To stay present and positive throughout the day, set aside a few minutes every morning to remind yourself what you’re grateful for.
Particularly great for recording and reflecting on special moments, Happier combines a gratitude journal with a positive social community.
9) Alarm Clock Xtreme
Alarm Clock Xtreme is a fantastic app that lets you customize your alarms with some cool features such as:
- Set your morning alarm to slowly increase in volume and wake you up gently (crescendo)
- Use the extra-large snooze button to prevent you from pressing ‘dismiss’ accidentally
- Force yourself to solve math problems in order to snooze/dismiss the alarm
- You can even have the snooze duration decrease in time after every snooze and set a maximum number of snoozes
Available for: Android
10) Wave Alarm
Wave Alarm is a revolutionary Alarm Clock application that will change the way you wake up! Utilizing Motion Control and detection, you never need to touch your phone again in the morning to turn off the alarm or to snooze, just wave your hand over the device when the alarm is sounding, and Wave Alarm will snooze or silence the alarm for you!
Available for: iPhone
Knowing your REM cycle really can help you stop feeling sluggish in the morning. The SleepCycle alarm clock tracks your movements (filtering out fans, noise or even your partner’s movements) to analyze when you’re in the deepest and lightest phase of your sleep cycle. You simply set a 30-minute window of when you want to wake up, and the app goes off at the optimal time for you — so you don’t feel groggy.
13) The Rock Clock
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has brought you an app that’s part alarm clock, part motivational speaker. Each wake up alarm has prompts written in The Rock’s own words, and some sounds are recorded by the actor himself. You can even set the app to The Rock’s own schedule, but don’t do that unless you want to get up at 4:30 am day!
Enter a personal goal, set your morning alarm and wake up every day with a new message from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
14) Simple Stretching Exercises
Available for: Android
Wake up with a good stretch. A simple design with illustrations and categories for muscle groups, this app helps you get moving gently.
iOS users have a Podcasts app already loaded to their phones, however, there’s a whole world of internet radio waiting to be unlocked on Stitcher. Subscribe to some incredible shows and listen to them in the morning while you’re getting ready to go into the office. A good story is a great reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Now you don’t have an excuse to not get out of bed. This app refuses to turn off unless you take a picture of an item in your house (preferably something in another room) or solve a math problem.
QUOTES ON MORNINGS
This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.
Every morning I wake up saying, I’m still alive; a miracle. And so I keep on pushing.
When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world, I thank God I am alive.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.
When I wake up in the morning, I know that it’s going to be the best day of my life. I never think about what I can’t do. Make sure positive thoughts are the first ones you think in the morning. And never procrastinate.
“The early morning has gold in its mouth.”
“The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.”
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”
“The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.”
“One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.”
70 QUOTES ON THE POWER OF HABITS
Download our free eBook! “ 70 quotes on the power of habits”