Mornings aren’t for everyone: Some people say they’re at their most creative or effective in the early morning hours, while others perform better at night. However, it’s no secret that executives tend to get up before dawn to start their day, and have a routine that helps them get through the day more efficiently.
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According to a Nature Communications study, the women who were surveyed were more likely than the men to be early risers (48.4 percent of the women, versus 39.7 percent of the men). Also, people who described themselves as “morning people” were less likely to need more than eight hours of sleep. A University of Barcelona study, meanwhile,fond that the “morning” people it looked at tended to be more persistent and be less likely to experience “fatigue, frustrations, and difficulties.”
But, can someone’s morning routine have a direct correlation to how the rest of ther day goes? Personally, I’d say yes.
I’m an early riser, myself. To be productive, I need only five to six hours of sleep each night. Once I get up, I check my email and start communicating with my team what needs to get done that day (my team teases me because of the many messages awaiting them when they get up themselves).
I’m usually in the office around 7:30 or 8 a.m. I may need up to four espressos (lots of milk) or,sometimes, Red Bull, to get started (not the best thing, but it gets me ready for the day). I’ll print out the day’s schedule, with meetings, conference calls, interviews, etc. and determine any actions needed, then write down five big things I must do that day. I’ll also write five things I want from my team, whether they need reminding and any new assignments they’ve got.
Overall, I like to start the day with an empty mailbox, though that doesn’t always happen.
At that point, I’ll start my calls and meetings, and maybe put out a few fires along the way.
While my routine isn’t all that revolutionary, it works for me. I’ve had conversations with countless c-suite executives I about their routines. I find the results fascinating for the sneak peak it gives into their lives and into their formulas for success. Here are several I’ve talked to:
Luther Garcia — CEO, ECS Global Solutions
“I wake up about 6:30 a.m. and the first thing I do is walk my beagles. During this time, I usually think about what I want to accomplish during the day. I mentally play out any potentially important conversations, or transactions, that I know I need to have during the day. I try to anticipate what the other people are going to say or do and what questions they are going to ask; and then I come up with answers to those questions.
It sounds kind of crazy, but the truth is it’s a form of visualization, and it’s something I have done naturally, even as a kid.”
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Jason Forrest — CEO and chief culture officer, Forrest Performance Group
“One thing that stays the same on my calendar every day, no matter how hectic the schedule gets, is my morning workout. My Friday morning workout, the longest of the week, includes a note that says ‘Never cancel.’ I feel strongly about pre-framing my day with a good sweat.
“Starting my day with a beneficial endorphin rush is the best way to charge into my day. A quick, high-intensity, 30-minute workout to rev up my engine for the day means that the second I walk through my office doors, I’m fired up for my first action.”
Matthew Lanfear — CEO, Great Eastern Energy
“My morning doesn’t really start until I’ve had my coffee. From there, I have two lists that set my day: my list of incomplete to-dos from the previous day and my list of to-dos for the day ahead. These lists really help me make the most significant impact at the quickest pace possible.
“By prioritizing the most urgent issues, I can be a better leader and agent for change in the company. They allow me not only to accomplish more throughout the day, but I can also set an example of accountability by showing my commitment to my team’s opinions and concerns.”
Marc Cohen — co-founder and CEO, Wrinkl
“I guess I’m a dreamer, in more ways than one. That is, I often dream at night; and sometimes my dreams are quite literal and help me solve a problem. I dream of ways to approach business issues I’m dealing with, or ways a product might accomplish a particular function. I keep a pad of paper by my bed and usually wake up and write a note when I dream something that seems possibly helpful.
“I spend the first moments of many such mornings reading those notes and thinking about them. Sometimes, what I’ve written is quite funny or preposterous, but on more than a few occasions, I’ve solved a problem or thought of a product improvement that might actually work, with refinement.”
Joshua DeWitt – CEO, CoinLion
“I am out of bed by 5 to 6 a.m. I have an unwritten rule with myself that once I wake up in the morning, no matter how early it is, I get out of bed and start the day. I will work from my home office and try to accomplish tasks that I need to get off my plate right away; this is typically from 5 to 9 a.m. This time allows me to focus 100 percent on the task at hand. My mornings are focused on being proactive and my afternoons tend to be much more reactive to tasks like meetings and emails.
“Usually, between 8 and 9 a.m. I head to the office. I often stop at a local coffee shop and sit for about 20 minutes reviewing emails and planning my time at the office. I may write down a small list, but typically I have been thinking about important tasks the night before so they are top of mind.”
Getting up early is one routine that successful people have in common. They feel their most productive during the early morning hours, partly because there are fewer distractions. Other things “early worms” have in common are productivity, self-discipline, more energy, a greater sense of satisfaction, a distraction-free environment, more family time and the ability to stay ahead.
If this list sounds good, there are ways there are ways you too can become an early riser, though it won’t happen overnight. Try getting up a couple of minutes earlier each day until you get to where you want to be. One thing that seemed to work when my kids were younger was having an alarm clock at a distance.
Related: Successful Entrepreneurs Have These 5 Traits in Common
This forced me to get out of bed, the first step to becoming the early riser that I am today.
What’s your morning routine?
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