How you start your day can very much determine how the rest of it will go. Many successful people and entrepreneurs have various morning hacks to create a productive morning routine. I’ve been fascinated on morning routines ever since I started reading My Morning Routine and Well and Good. I believe this time represents a most precious commodity and how we spend the first hours of the day can influence our mood, productivity, and interactions with others.
Here are the key things to consider as you build a daily routine for success:
Wake up slowly
Though I consider myself an early bird, I don’t like waking up at 6:40 a.m. if I don’t need to. Still, I’ve noticed that if I wake up early and try to wake up slowly, I end up enjoying my mornings more. I give myself 20 minutes to slowly wake up and then make myself a cup of tea and read the news.
Set your intention
Wake up each morning and set a positive intention for the day. It may sound a little silly at first, but starting your day with positivity makes it easier to focus on your tasks. I also take time in the morning to evaluate where I am and where I want to be and what can I do today to get myself further. Steve Jobs mentioned in a commencement speech to graduating students at Stanford how setting his morning intentions helped him change his life strategy:
And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Choose three priorities
This is similar to the last one, but more tactical. It is impossible to get everything done in a day, so make it your daily ritual to start each day with focus and clear direction by identifying the three things that matter most. This will automatically eliminate many other tasks for the day. For the remaining tasks, decide their value and how much time you are willing to dedicate to them them. Find ways to hack your schedule so you can also enjoy your day.
Let’s be honest: sometimes at a startup, you don’t know if you’ll have time for lunch, and no one likes a hangry coworker. Be sure you have something to eat to start out your day. Every morning I wake up and, unless I have to be at work earlier than usual, I make sure I eat breakfast before I leave.
Exercise (or schedule it into your day)
I am slightly biased since I work for ClassPass and can go to work in sweats, but if you can fit in a morning workout, you’d be surprised how much more productive your day will be. Research shows that regular exercise makes us sharper, more productive, and happier people. Working out can increase your mental clarity for four to 10 hours post-exercise. If you’re able to fit exercise in first thing in the morning, you’ll be able to take full-advantage of that optimized brainpower, and you’ll be ready to tackle your day by giving yourself that extra energy boost.
Of course, not all of us are early-risers, and there’s no bad time to exercise. According to the International Journal for Workplace Health Management, people who exercise during their workday are 23% more productive than those who don’t. You deserve to that 20-40 minutes to yourself, whether it is by signing up for a class on ClassPass or going for a lunchtime walk and enjoying the beautiful spring weather.
Maximize your commute
If you are like me and have more than 20 minutes on a train or car, then it is best to figure out what to do with this precious time, rather than letting it go to waste on your iPhone. Take this time to read (if you aren’t driving, of course) or listen to a podcast. I try to read fiction on my way to work and non-fiction on the way back. If I can’t find a seat on the crowded train, then I listen to Tim Ferriss or the Serial podcast. Startup enthusiasts out there should check out this list of free podcasts from the innovation sector.
Avoid social media and emails
This is something I struggle to do and hoping to get better at. When I wake up, I spend too much time catching up on every single social media outlet, which usually takes me a good 20 minutes. The best way I’ve found to avoid this is turning off any app alert. It has saved me much unnecessary anxiety from seeing unread emails or tweets. Additionally, checking your email will actually push back those three priorities you set for your day.
Start your workday early
My office can be very loud so I like coming in 10-20 minutes earlier than everyone else just to have the office to myself. It helps me to stay organized and plan my day without any distractions.
Get up and greet the world
Start your day by saying “good morning” to as many people as possible. It is a very simple thing to do, but you’d be surprised how this can affect your own mood, the attitudes of others, and your interactions with them. Plus, you never know when you’ll make a new friend.