How to Start Your Mornings Right
Much has been written about the power of your morning routine to set your day on a positive course, and science backs those assertions. Research by a German biologist found that people are most proactive and productive first thing in the day, and research published by the American Psychological Association concluded that people who are more active early in the day (early risers) are less stressed, depressed and anxious than night owls.
A call for morning practices from entrepreneurs and businesspeople netted fascinating and creative rituals. These power players typically included practices that address five parts of your being—listed here. The key is to identify habits that resonate with you. Be playful and try different things until you find a groove that works. If the effects wear off or you get bored, switch it up with abandon.
“Within 10 minutes of waking up, I do 50 pushups. It clears my mind and instantly makes me feel like I’ve done something productive,” says Jason Parks, a digital marketing expert. Each morning Emily Skye, an Australian health and wellness influencer, goes for a barefoot beach walk with her boyfriend—leaving electronics at home.
These practices include slamming down a liter of water, drinking the juice of a fresh lemon, or otherwise enjoying a planned, healthy and satisfying breakfast.
Life coach Maria Salomão-Schmidt spends 20 minutes of chanting, yoga, meditating and journaling with her 13-year-old daughter. It is a practice that began when her daughter was going through a tough time and has resulted in household harmony. Others pray or read from sacred texts.
“Each morning for the past 10 years, I write two- to three-sentence love notes to my wife,” reports lawyer Craig Tractenberg. “Sometimes they are inventories of gratitude and thanks. Other times they are lovingly tawdry. I write them on a notepad and read the note to my wife when she is still in bed. Composing the note is meditative and often humorous.”
“In my first hour of the day I do something I enjoy—either an hour of DJ-ing in the bedroom, listening to my favorite motivational podcast or watching some old cartoons,” says London music producer Gareth Bishop.
43; certified financial planner; Houston
My alarm wakes me up at 5:15 a.m. George, the very large yellow Lab waiting for me outside my bedroom door, happily and hungrily jumps from his hind legs and almost knocks me over in my sleepy state. I feed him and then head to my preprogrammed coffeepot. Then I go out to my dark and peaceful backyard where I sit down, light a candle, listen to the birds chirping, and complete a breathing exercise using an app for two minutes. For six minutes—with a timer set on my phone—I write that I forgive my ex-husband (I’m going through a divorce), something I’m thankful for that happened the day before, specific praise to God, gratitude and prayer requests for others. After the six minutes, I read the daily excerpts from two books that have inspiring and thoughtful passages. Next I exercise—by attending a Pilates class, going for a neighborhood run or strength training at home. I coordinate breakfast with my 9-year-old son, while my two teenage daughters sleep until after my son and I (along with some neighborhood kids), ride our bikes to his school. I eat a daily breakfast of steel-cut oats with ground flaxseed, walnuts, sun butter and blueberries, washed down with my favorite green drink. Then my workday begins!
40; CEO of Blue Corona, an analytics and digital marketing company; Gaithersburg, Maryland
I wake up with no alarm around 4:30 a.m., get dressed and head to the office. I’m typically at my desk with a big cup of coffee by 6 a.m. Getting in early gives me total peace and quiet. We have a team of more than 50 people who start to arrive around 7:30 a.m., and a lot of my day is dedicated to them.
At my desk, what I do next goes against just about every modern productivity book: I check my email. I find that the easiest way to get into a flow state is to start my day with a repetitive activity that is also easy to moderately challenging. Cleaning out my inbox and responding to a few messages fits the bill perfectly, and it works.
46; chief marketing officer of KWIPPED, an equipment rental agency; Wilmington, North Carolina
Every morning I park on the top story of a five-level parking garage. When I exit my car, I can see the building that houses our early-stage tech startup office where six of us work. Every morning I vividly imagine that our business has exploded and that we now occupy the entire building. Descending to the street requires 10 zigzags (two per level). I mentally state one thing for which I am grateful on each section: my beautiful wife, my laid-back 18-year-old son, my way-too-cool 16-year-old stepdaughter, my exciting work opportunities, etc. Then I walk through an alley, which bears a graffiti slogan: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. (I mentally substitute is for was and hurts for hurt.) Having walked more than 150 stairs, envisioned future success and expressed gratitude for present blessings, my mental atmosphere is free, optimistic, creative, laser-focused and powerful. Business is booming. Success begins in the mind.
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.