Mornings can be your biggest advantage to a productive day. They can also be your biggest time suck, setting you up to a day of yawning and distraction.
We asked the experts—nine members of the Young Entrepreneur Council—what mistakes we should avoid while starting our days. Here’s what they said.
1. Set multiple alarms.
Everyone has that friend who sets the 6:40, 6:50, 7 and 7:15 (just in case) alarms. Then they snooze the first two, wake up for the third, and the fourth goes off for five minutes while they are in the shower. Maddening! If you have trouble waking up to alarms, try different apps. Successful people manage their sleep so they wake up to their alarm the first time and are ready to attack the day.
—Matt Murphy, Kids in the Game LLC
Successful people never find themselves getting distracted by the television or decide to watch just one show. Instead, they dive right into the tasks they want to tackle for the day.
—Peter Daisyme, Due
3. Get caught up in small decisions.
Successful people don’t waste time on small decisions, like what to have for lunch or wear every morning. Steve Jobs popularized this with his black turtleneck, and former President Obama would wear one of two colors of suits every day. Having fewer small decisions to make then makes it easier to focus on the big decisions.
—Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
4. Wing it.
The most successful people I know don’t just wing it. They have a schedule they abide by. It doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute itinerary, but there is some sort of ritual they follow to start their day.
—Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
5. Stay in their pajamas.
As someone who runs a remote team, I have found that one of the most important things successful remote employees don’t do is stay in their pajamas all day. There is something to be said about changing into “work” attire even when working from home. It helps get you in the right frame of mind and allows your brain to understand that it is time to work.
—Jared Brown, Hubstaff Talent
6. Skip breakfast.
Having a belly full of healthy food is critical to powering your mind and body for the rest of the day. Too often, people skip breakfast and overeat at lunch, leading them to a total afternoon crash. Start the day off with some protein and healthy fruits and vegetables, and your energy levels will stay far more consistent when you’re ready to work.
—Ross Beyeler, Growth Spark
Related: Recipe: Blueberry Blast Smoothie
7. Go straight to work.
Successful and overworked are not the same thing. Becoming successful doesn’t mean working 80-plus hours a week. It means putting in 100 percent when you are at work. In the mornings, take a little time for yourself before checking your email. Eat breakfast with your family or get in a workout to clear your mind and start your day fresh.
—Stan Garber, Scout RFP
8. Complain about going to work.
Successful people are eager to get going in the morning. No matter what time it is or how difficult the commute might be, being successful starts with a positive outlook on your day. If you are dreading getting out of bed and getting going, you are not setting a good standard for the rest of your day. Successful people are excited and motivated to get going, and they carry that enthusiasm throughout the day.
—Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
9. Go against their nature.
Some people are early risers, and some are night owls. Owning who you are and where your strengths lie is vital to being successful. It’s important to manage your time so that you feel your best when you need to achieve certain objectives. Forcing yourself to feel differently results in a lot of conflict and unhappiness.
—Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.