If you're running your own business or you're career-driven, it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends and find yourself in a constant state of exhaustion.
I used to find it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings, hitting “snooze” repeatedly before rushing out the door to start a 12-hour day. But now that I’ve made some tweaks to my routine, I jump out of bed at 5:55am on the dot — and I’ve never felt more energized and productive.
I’m not the only entrepreneur who knows the power of an early start: Tim Ferriss, Oprah and Apple’s Tim Cook all begin their days before sunrise. If you’re looking to make the most of those key hours before you hit the office, try out a few of these morning routines for yourself.
1. Set Your Alarm with Precision
Why have a super-precise wake-up time? There’s something psychological about being specific that tells your brain to pay attention - it’s the same reason we do our company morning huddle at 10:55 each morning. I used to set my alarm for around 6:00am, changing the wake-up call by a few minutes forward or back every day and hitting snooze (a lot). Now I don’t compromise: it’s set for 5:55, and the specific routine is ingrained in my psyche, forcing me out of bed on time.
2. Write Down 1 Daily Intention
I head straight from bed to the coffee maker. While my espresso is brewing, I take a moment to set my intention for the day. Writing down your goals makes you significantly more likely to achieve them and I firmly believe that what gets measured, gets done. When I log an intention, I have successful, happy days. On the days I don’t, it’s harder to focus.
I use my iPhone notepad to jot down one goal (just one!) to accomplish in the next 24 hours. These intentions are always simple and attainable. For example, today it was “hit the gym”; other times it might have to do with how I eat. Though these are related to personal health, taking care of myself ultimately means taking care of my business.
3. Give Yourself a Power Hour
This is arguably the most important part of my morning ritual. My kids wake up around 7:00am, so 6:00 to 7:00 is a precious chunk of time for myself. It might mean perfecting my French (one of my 101 Life Goals is to teach a business class en francais), getting in a quick workout, or doing some reading.
The one thing I never do during my power hour? Check my email. We’ve all been guilty of this, but I used to reach for my phone and open my inbox first thing in the morning. I found opening my email so early in the day let other people dictate my priorities, making me reactive instead of proactive.
4. Find a Way to Fuel Your Body Properly
Plenty can happen during your 9-to-5 that gets a healthy diet off track. But I find being intentional about the first meal of the day (when willpower is at its peak), means I’m much more successful in maintaining good habits.
Right now, I’m using a local meal delivery company called Vital Supply Co to make it extra-easy for me to eat well. They let me choose between different meal options to optimize my energy throughout the day. When I was younger, I would often skip lunch or stuff my face with whatever was around. Now I know that a healthy routine leads to healthy mind and focus, and that you can’t be a leader who is confident and energized if you’re not fueling your body right. Finding a healthy delivery service has made it impossible for me to miss mealtime.
5. Choose to Use Your Commute Efficiently
Though some entrepreneurs may want to (or have to) pull 12 hour days, I’ve made a conscious choice to prioritize balance and make more time for my physical health and family. While I typically don’t get into the office until 8:30 or 9:00, I’ve found that my 20-minute drive can be utilized to get work done. My assistant schedules interviews and conference calls for when she knows I’m driving and available hands-free, so I can be productive en route. Checking some things off while in transit means I’m able to cut down on actual time at the office. It also results in more creative thinking because I’m mobile and in a different head space.
6. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The real secret to a productive morning, though, is the night before. I’m generally in bed around 10 p.m., but before I drift off, I list 10 things I’m grateful for. Especially when I’ve had a bad day or something’s gone wrong, it’s a powerful reminder of the progress I’ve made with family, fitness, and business. Ending my night on a positive note means that, at 5:55 when that alarm goes off, I’m ready to start a new day on the right foot.