Sheryl Sandberg creates her to-do list in a spiral notebook and checks off items before 7:00 a.m., when she arrives at her office (that office is Facebook headquarters, where Sheryl is the COO). Shonda Rhimes has a dance party — often with Beyoncé.
Night owls may disagree, but many successful people agree that they’re most productive in the morning. That’s why establishing a morning routine will help you develop good habits that can enable you to focus, accomplish more in your workday, achieve your goals, and improve your life overall.
Not every is an early riser or morning person, so it might take some practice to develop a routine that works for you. Not sure how to create your ideal morning ritual? Here are eight positive habits successful people swear by that can help you build a healthy morning routine:
10 Morning Routines Used By Successful People
Here are 10 routines to mirror.
1. Wake up at the same time every day.
Your circadian rhythm (system that regulates your sleep cycle) may cause your body to naturally wake up at a similar time every day, even on weekends. If it doesn’t, set an alarm clock, and keep it far away from your bed, so you have to get up to turn it off. Try to avoid relying on the snooze button; hitting it repeatedly and going back to sleep for short periods confuses your body, makes you feel sluggish and foggy later, and throws off your internal clock. Instead, set your alarm for the time you actually need or want to get up — and stick to it!
Keeping yourself on a schedule helps you sleep better. That’s why it’s also important to go to bed at the same time every night. And while you may relish those extra hours you get to sleep in on weekends, it’s best to resist temptation, because keeping yourself on a regular sleep schedule will allow you to sleep better — and have more energy — overall.
While we’re on the topic, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night; that is the ideal amount for most adults. Sleeping more or less than that can make you feel sluggish and have low energy during the day. You may need to go to bed a little earlier to achieve this goal. On a positive note, that means you'll have something in common with Sheryl, who's usually in bed before 10:00 p.m.
2. Allow natural light into your room.
Natural sunlight helps you kick off your day. Light is also crucial in controlling circadian rhythm, and helps your mood and ability to complete tasks. So if you prefer total darkness when you sleep, open the curtains when you're up and ready to start the day.
3. Drink a glass of water.
When you’re sleeping, you become a little dehydrated. This makes sense, since you haven’t had any water over the course of the night. That’s why it’s extremely important to have a glass of water as soon as you get up. You’ll replenish your fluids and helps ensure that your metabolism runs well throughout the day.
Water can also help wake you up and reduce your feelings of hunger.
4. Eat breakfast.
Oprah Winfrey starts her day with a healthy breakfast that's rich in complex carbs, fiber, and protein.
You’ve probably heard that eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism, and that skipping breakfast is associated with weight gain. The former is certainly true, while the latter is open to some debate. However, skipping breakfast has a number of consequences. It may also make you feel less energetic, and thus expend fewer calories over the course of the day.
Eating breakfast has a number of important benefits, including a lower risk for diabetes (compared with those who skip it) and improved cognitive function. Breakfast isn’t just important for your body, but it’s necessary for your brain as well; your concentration and productivity are greatly improved when you eat in the morning.
What you eat is just as important as whether you eat. Sugary foods and other simple carbs, like white bread, can make you feel sluggish and case you to gain weight. So while it’s okay to indulge in pancakes or Fruit Loops once in a while, you shouldn’t make simple carb-heavy meals your go-to breakfasts. Instead, opt for protein- and fiber-loaded meals, which will give you energy, curb your appetite, and decrease your risk for some diseases. Examples of “good” breakfasts include eggs, oatmeal (not loaded with sugar), berries, nuts, or cottage cheese.
Sheryl, Oprah, and Arianna Huffington all exercise in the morning, and for good reason.
Exercising in the morning has a ton of benefits, including increasing your energy, boosting your metabolism, making you happier overall, and helping you sleep better. You don’t need to go for a long run to see some benefits — even just a few minutes of rigorous, aerobic exercise will yield results. You could even have a dance party, just like Shonda!
Your morning workout will also give you a sense of accomplishment and get you into a positive mindset for the day ahead.
6. Accomplish an important task.
Your willpower is strongest in the morning, so try to accomplish — or at least put some effort toward making headway on — a task that will give you a head start on your day. Arianna, for instance, answers emails.
What you decide to do depends on your personal and career goals. You might jot down some notes for a meeting or get started on a project. Ultimately, you should choose a task that requires self-control and concentration to complete — this will help enable you to have a more productive day overall. Your motivation and willpower will be lower later in the day, so accomplishing an important task now will mean you won’t have to do it later, when you’re tired and less willing or able to focus.
Meditation has many benefits, including promoting awareness, decreasing stress and anxiety, helping you sleep better, and promoting your well-being overall. That's probably why so many successful women, including Oprah and Arianna, add it to their morning agendas.
Meditating in the morning sets the right tone for the day and keeps you calm. Plus, if you meditate in the morning as opposed to later in the day, you’ll ensure that you actually do it, and you can check it off your to-do list early.
You don’t need to meditate for an hour; chances are, you don’t have time for that anyway. Even a few minutes can relax you and get you into a positive mindset. If you’re having trouble getting started, try a five-or 10-minute guided meditation. Like many other skills, meditation takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if you find your thoughts wandering at first.
8. Make a to-do list.
This is actually something you should do at night, based on what you need to accomplish the next day. You should check off items in the morning. Arianna sets her priorities for the day, so she can start accomplishing them right away.
Make a list of tasks you want to accomplish early, before you head to work. Because of you’ll have plenty of the aforementioned willpower, you’ll be able to check off items quickly.
Don’t make your list overly ambitious; the tasks should be meaningful and contribute to the overall success of your day, but still attainable. You don't want to feel discouraged if you can't get to everything on a list that's too long.
9. Practice breathing exercises.
Breathing can help to calm you down and get you energized all at the same time. It's meditative and can help you focus for the day ahead. It also eases stress, so whenever you have a big day ahead, you can come back to your breath to prepare yourself.
10. Energize with a cup of tea.
Tea can help give you more sustained energy than coffee, without the crash. Drinking matcha green tea, for example, can help you wake up and keep you alert without giving you the same jitters as coffee.
About the Career Expert:
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.