Purpose//

Lessons From an Author Who Has Interviewed Over 300 High Achievers About Their Morning Routines

Your mornings are a blank slate, an opportunity to start again!

Courtesy of Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock
Courtesy of Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

How you start your day has everything to do with your success.

The choices you make first thing in the morning are shaping your life for better or worst. Better morning routines help you achieve more, think clearly, and do things that actually matter.

The importance of starting your day with intention is crucial for getting the results you need and making the most of your time every day.

The minute you wake up, what you do both consciously and unconsciously forms the beginning linked actions that are shaping your growth and output.

If you choose to start your day on purpose, you can control the first few important actions that determine how the rest of your day turns out. When one good morning habit triggers another, your speed of success doubles.

No matter how far you’ve come, every day is an opportunity to start over. High achievers tend to find routines that work for them and then stick to them.

But how do you transition from a morning ritual into a meaningful, productive workday?

Over the past five years, Benjamin Spall, the co-author of My Morning Routine has interviewed more than 300 of the world’s best and brightest people about their morning routines.

In their book, Spall and Xander talked to successful business leaders, military generals, university presidents, Olympic athletes, fashion models, artists, the President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo and other high achievers.

After over 300 interviews they learned that while there isn’t one “best” morning routine that works for everyone, there are best practices that some of the most successful people follow every day.

As the authors say: “What we discovered as we got deeper into the process of interviewing people about their morning routines is that almost none of the world’s best and brightest leave their mornings to chance.”

Your morning routine should suit you

Your morning routine should not fee feel like a chore. If it does, you’ve got to experiment with other habits that can help you land on the right routine that will unlock greater energy, focus, and calm first thing in the morning. You should be looking forward to waking up every day.

“While the majority of the people I’ve interviewed tend to get up early — the average wake-up time for everyone I’ve talked to is 6:27 a.m. — successful people like to experiment to find the sweet spot that works for them,” says Benjamin Spall.

There is no one right way to start your day. But a lot of what you do first thing in the morning depends on the demands of your time, and what you do. What works for Marie Kondo may not necessarily work for you. The good news is, you can adopt good habits and triggers to make the most of your mornings.

“We want you to experiment until you’ve formed a morning routine that works for you — one that makes you feel awake, alert, physically and mentally healthy, and psyched up to have a great day,” the authors explain.

Your morning routine will most likely adjust as demands on your time changes and you assume different or more responsibilities. Some habits may not change but others can be adjusted to suit your needs. You can even adapt your routine to different situations and environments or when you travel.

Experimentation gives you the space you need to enjoy your mornings without the pressure to use someone’s else’s whole morning routine.

“Find a routine that works for you. Do not feel pressured to adjust to other people’s standards of what your morning should look like. Be flexible and know when to pivot to make things as simple as possible for yourself,” says Shaka Senghor, leading voice on Criminal Justice reform.

Your morning set the tone for the rest of your day. Make sure the activities you choose to do the first hour or two after you wake up energise you to keep going for the rest of the day.

Spall explains, “Most successful people carve out time in their morning to commit to things that make them feel relaxed, energized and motivated. That can mean working out, reading, meditating or just spending time with your loved ones.”

Become a more successful sleeper. It’s the best thing you can do for your health. The best person to determine how much sleep you need is you. If you feel tired every morning, you probably need more sleep. “The quality of your sleep the night before directly impacts your ability to perform the next day and, indeed, your ability to enjoy your day,” writes Spall.

He explains, “Your morning routine means nothing without a good night’s sleep behind it. Don’t become complacent about how much sleep you need; most people require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you’re constantly trying to get by on less than seven hours of sleep, it will catch up with you, likely sooner rather than later.”

If you are a fan of Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain,” (a theory of habit creation that requires a person not to habit pattern) remember to take it easy on yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself.

Spall writes, “Nearly everyone I’ve talked to said they don’t consider one, two or even three missed days of their morning routine a failure, so long as they get back to it as soon as they can. They recognize that sometimes they’ll miss their routine, and that’s O.K.”

Every three or six months, you can pause and review your morning routine and find out what’s working what doesn’t especially if you are working towards a specific goal or milestone.

“I give myself a break and take the longer view of what’s happening,” said Kevin Cleary, the chief executive of Clif Bar & Company. “If I can’t do my workout later in the day, I’ll tell myself I’ll just pick it up tomorrow or the next day. Six months from now, my body or I won’t know that I missed a day.”

If there is some consistency in what you do first thing in the morning every day, you already have a morning routine whether you’re aware of it or not. You can consciously change it to suit your expectations and set yourself up for success.

Your mornings can mean the difference between a productive day or a sluggish one. They have powerful ripple effects on your mood, energy and focus for the rest of the day. If you leave your day to chance, you’ll likely get sidetracked by distractions.

A successful morning routine takes is a bit of discipline. Every morning is a starting point. Create a more personal and positive routine that works for you and help you feel calm, controlled and productive.

Originally published on Medium.

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