What do the world’s most successful people have in common?
In most cases, their success was not a mistake. It required hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Another essential element? A solid morning routine.
A 6-Step Morning Routine That Sets You Up for Success
How you start your day can determine how it will end. Getting off to a rushed, chaotic start makes it more difficult to stay focused and give your best performance. With just a few small adjustments, you can radically improve your work and your life.
Below are six steps that will keep you calm, collected, and ready for a successful day!
1. Get Up Early
For most of us, the buzz of an alarm clock is a dreadful sound, signaling a most dreadful obligation.
We have to pull ourselves from the comfort of our warm, cozy beds and try to shake off the sleepiness weighing down our bodies. (And for the millions of us not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, this task can feel impossible.)
Still, waking up at the same time every morning is essential for stabilizing your biological clock, or circadian rhythm. Doing so increases your productivity and has also been proven to strengthen short-term memory. This is why it’s also important to maintain this schedule, even on weekends and days off (sorry!).
Still tempted to press snooze? Mel Robbins, author of The 5 Second Rule, found a strategy that helped her overcome the biggest obstacle of her day.
Robbins recommends placing your phone in another room—for example, on the bathroom counter—before getting into bed at night.
That way, when you hear that alarm the next morning, you will be forced to physically leave the bed. The most brutal part of the day will be over, and your chances of staying in the sheets will be almost nil.
Another great reason to keep your phone away from the bed? You won’t be bombarded with e-mails and social media distractions while you’re trying to unwind, which means you’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed.
It’s also wise to avoid checking social media first thing in the morning, as it has been proven to raise anxiety levels almost immediately.
2. Get Moving
Once you’ve won the battle of the alarm clock, it’s important to keep moving in order to overpower your body’s tendency to seek the warmth and safety of your bed.
Even if you don’t have time for a full-on workout each morning, try to squeeze in a few minutes of stretching or cardio to activate your body and brain. This will elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping, making you more alert and focused.
Besides the obvious health benefits, a little physical activity in the morning will also trigger the release of hormones that improve mood and sleep quality. After a few days, you might not even feel the need to down that cup of coffee before work (although we certainly won’t judge).
We’ve all heard that a body in motion stays in motion. So don’t stop just yet—there’s still more to do before you can focus on tackling those big goals for the day.
Making the bed, for example, is a chore that seems insignificant enough, but it’s one that can set the tone for the rest of your day. If you’re able to accomplish this, you’ll not only make your environment more organized but also put yourself in the right mindset to handle even the most mundane details right from the start. As a bonus, at the end of the day you’ll return to order and neatness—and that’s a success in itself.
3. Meditate and Breathe
Deep breathing and a few minutes of meditation result in more oxygen being sent to the brain, which boosts brain function and performance.
Taking a few moments to calm your mind in the morning will help fight anxiety and ensure that you’re on track to accomplish your most important priorities for the day.
But don’t confuse “calm” with “sleepy”—practicing mindfulness through meditation will make your mind sharper and more aware of your surroundings, so you’ll be on top of your game when it’s time to take care of the important things.
Thankfully, there are dozens of fabulous apps to help you with your daily meditation practice.
For example, the app Calm offers guided meditation sessions with a wide variety of topics to cater to your specific needs, from calming anxiety, to practicing gratitude, to boosting self-esteem.
There is also a 30-minute session to help you fall asleep, as well as a selection of calming sounds. The app is free to download, though there are in-app purchases.
Insight Timer is another excellent app that allows users to choose from guided or unguided sessions. Like Calm, this app offers different meditation styles depending on what you’d like to target, including a body scan or a session focused on self kindness. Insight Timer is also free with in-app purchases.
4. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
In the rush of getting ready and thinking about all of your obligations for the day, it can be easy to neglect your own body. But don’t make that mistake! After you’ve taken care of your brain and lungs with meditation and exercise, it’s time to refuel your system after being in a sleep state for hours.
Start by drinking a tall glass of water. Our bodies consume a lot of water throughout the night just to function, so rehydration is key.
As for breakfast, there are many diets out there that offer contradicting suggestions about what we should be eating. As long as you can avoid sugary and processed foods (which slow us down), you can decide what works best for you. Just remember: much like a car, the better the fuel is, the better your body will perform.
5. Practice Gratitude
Along with meditating, practicing gratitude has been proven to boost your mood and shift your focus away from any negative or anxious thoughts. With this more optimistic outlook, you’ll be more open and accepting to all of life’s opportunities.
Practicing gratitude is simple and fits hand in hand with meditation. Each morning, before you start thinking about and working toward your goals, set aside several minutes of quiet time to reflect on at least three things for which you are grateful. These might be your job, your family, your home—or, they might include smaller things, like nice weather or a day off from work.
When possible, try to put a positive spin on less-than-pleasant situations. For example, if a certain coworker is giving you a hard time at work, be grateful for the lesson in patience. You might not really believe that this is a blessing in that moment, but that’s what makes this a “practice,” so don’t feel discouraged.
Writing these thoughts down in a gratitude journal makes the practice even more effective, so if you have time, jot down a few notes about what you’re feeling most appreciative of that day. If you’re feeling down on a particular morning, you will have a reminder of all the reasons you have to be grateful.
6. Make a To-Do List
In order to stay organized and maximize your productivity, making a “to-do” list is an essential step in every successful person’s morning routine. This requires not only reflecting on your goals for the day, but also identifying which ones can realistically be achieved.
When pondering your list of things to do, keep in mind that you should only be focusing on that day, not for the week ahead.
There are numerous mediums available for making to-do lists. Maybe you’re old-fashioned and focus better on hand-written objectives; maybe you live with your smart phone in hand and prefer tapping a quick note into your device. Determine which works better for you and keep it readily available for reference throughout the day.
Start by writing down every task that you need to address that day. Then, assign to each task a level of urgency. Which ones absolutely need to be checked off today? Those will need to be addressed first. Then, move on to the “medium-urgent” and “less-urgent” items.
You might also make a separate section to divide your work tasks from your home tasks. This will help you to better visualize your plan of action.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are unable to accomplish everything. Setting overly-ambitious goals that could not realistically be met in one day will only cause you unnecessary stress and set you up for disappointment if the plan falls through.
The purpose of the list is to keep your goals clear in your mind, rather than wasting time jumping between less productive tasks. If some items are left unfinished, there is always tomorrow!
Start Your Day on the Right Foot
A solid morning routine can help you prepare for everything the day throws at you and set you up for success.
The most important thing to remember is to find the routine or ritual that works for you and stick with it.
Do you have any morning rituals for success? Share them with us below!