2019 Update: We still stand by this advice on morning routines for successful people — but you may also want to check out our most recent discussion on how to wake up more easily when it’s dark out.
I’ve seen a TON of posts and articles lately on morning routines for successful people. But a lot of times I come away from these articles frustrated because they set such ridiculous standards. Send 10 networking emails every morning! Read four newspapers! Get 90 minutes of exercise in! So I thought we’d discuss. I’ll admit I’m not always the greatest in the morning (this is such an understatement that my husband is dying laughing as I write this), but even I’ve found a few useful ways to hack my mornings and make them better. So let’s discuss: what do YOU do? What is your morning routine, and do you attribute it to your success at work or in life? (#Winning, right?)
A few notes from me, including how to get up really early for me time:
- Figure out what’s important to you — and do it in the morning. Something I’ve learned over the years is that if something is important to you, there is time for it in your life somewhere, but most likely in the morning. In my law firm days I tried to read a chapter of a novel every morning, or write for an hour. When I started this blog, I wrote most of the posts and ideas in the early morning hours. Maybe it’s important to you to be social — meet a friend for breakfast, or leave time for responding to personal emails then. Maybe you’re trying to be healthier — leave time for meal prep (or set your slow cooker up with a 12-hour recipe!) or…
- Exercise. This is the #1 thing I’ve seen in these articles. Richard Branson does it! President Obama does it! Anna Wintour does it! We’ve talked about lunch workouts and going to the gym as part of an after-work routine, but I’ll agree that the absolute easiest way to get exercise into your routine is to do it first thing in the morning. If you lift weights you may enjoy the resulting metabolic boost (on my best days I call it “zooming” — that pepped up feeling that starts with a toning/weightlifting routine and continues throughout the day) — it’s also a great time to get some more sunlight into your life. (This is always when I’m tempted to Instagram silly pictures like the above, and dumb motivational quotes — I’m trying to resist!)
- Eat. I’ve read a lot about what to eat in the morning, but the thing that I’ve found works the best for me personally is to have what I call two breakfasts. First breakfast is something really light within a few minutes of waking up, such as a string cheese, a banana, or even 5 or 6 almonds. Second breakfast is usually later, around 10:30, and can be more substantial (yogurt, protein smoothie, hardboiled eggs). If I’m craving something big like an egg sandwich, I try to wait until 11 and make it an early lunch, possibly with a midday snack like yogurt, hardboiled eggs, oatmeal, whatever.
If your mornings are really rough, a few notes too:
- Try a tablespoon of peanut butter right before bedtime. Tim Ferriss talks about this in The Four Hour Body and if you can swing it calorically, I’ve found that this makes for amazing, amazing mornings. The theory is that low blood sugar overnight can lead to a rough morning — so if you have some peanut butter right before bed it keeps your blood levels stable.
- Use your nighttime routine to make your morning routine easier. I’ve read writers talk about stopping mid-sentence at the end of the day so they can pick up where they left off… I’ve also seen advice to write down three things (no more than three!) on a post-it note the night before to really focus your time and energy in the morning. In terms of health, I’ve heard of people sleeping in their gym clothes. I’ve never done that because my sports bras are too binding, but I have seen success when I get out my exercise clothes and throw them on the floor of the bathroom so that I’ll be all set. If you’re a parent, I have heard of people putting their kids to bed in their school clothes.
- Focus on gratitude as your eyes shut… If you feel like you’re getting lousy sleep because of stress, then really, really, really try gratitude. End the day focusing on what you’re thankful for — instead of what stresses you out.
Ladies, let’s hear it — what does a successful morning routine look like for you? Do you feel like it contributes to your happiness, your career success, or everything? What hacks have you made over the years; what’s working now?
Further Reading on Morning Routines for Successful People:
- 3 Changes to Your Morning Routine That Will Drastically Improve Your Day [The Muse]
- 5 Bedtime Routines That Will Make Your Mornings So Much Easier [The Muse]
- 23 Morning Routines of the Most Extraordinarily Successful People [Inc.]
- 11 Tweaks to Your Morning Routine Will Make Your Entire Day More Productive [Inc.]
- The Morning Habits Of Highly Successful People [Forbes]
- The Daily Routines of Geniuses [HBR]