Healthy morning habits lead to better organization, productivity and success in your personal and prefessional life.
Does your morning routine consist of hitting the snooze button three times, dragging yourself into the shower and wolfing down a quick breakfast as you run out the door? No doubt we all have mornings like this, but truly successful people know how important it is to start the day off on the right foot. A morning routine with healthy habits sets the tone for the rest of the day, helping you get organized, stay focused and be at the top of your game.
1. Plan for Productivity.
Benjamin Franklin started his mornings by planning what he would do with each hour of the day. It works for Tahra Makinson-Sanders, owner of TMak Sportswear, too. Filling out a productivity planner is the first thing she does when she sits down at her desk at 8 a.m.
"It's a lifesaver for planning my day and my week and being really efficient with my must-dos every day," says Makinson-Sanders, who is also a competitive triathlete, which means balancing the responsibilities of a solo entrepreneur with the demands of triathlon training. Makinson-Sanders schedules her most important tasks first and uses the Pomodoro technique (using a timer to break down work into intervals) to accomplish them.
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2. Make Your Bed.
Making the bed has been a "dedicated morning practice" for at least a decade for competitive snowboarder Daniel Gale. "My wife read that it was a simple task that can help start the day motivated rather than aimless," says Gale, who also co-founded the nonprofit Adaptive Action Sports with his wife, Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy.
"When you start the day with no purpose, aim or goals it can be very easy to let the time slip away without accomplishing anything. With a simple gesture like making the bed, you start the day on a motivational foot rather than a lazy one." Gale also says it matters how you make the bed. "There is a difference between doing something quickly or without intention versus with intention and purpose. Everyone may say, 'I make my bed, so what?' When it's done as a dedicated practice, it takes on a different form."
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3. Put Fitness First.
Husband-and-wife athlete/entrepreneur team Nikki and Chad Strickland start every day with a vigorous workout. Both are competitive cyclists who ride about 500 miles a week between them and train in the gym six days a week — in addition to running two businesses together, ZELOfit and theTifosi Workforce Design Studio.
The couple wakes at 5 a.m. and after an espresso and a walk with their dogs, heads to the gym for a HIIT workout incorporating fast-twitch movements to help build strength for the bike. Nikki, a U.S Specialized Women's Ambassador, says, "This has always been a part of our routine as a couple. It helps ensure that you get at least one good workout in a day in case you can't leave work or other priorities come up."
4. Just Breathe.
Taking several minutes in the morning for deep breathing is the secret to success for Daniel Gale, a competitive snowboarder who says he uses the technique before races. "When racing snowboards, it's easy to let adrenaline or stress get the better of you. Much of my success in racing was due to simply performing a dedicated breathing exercise in the start gates," says Gale. In the morning, he spends five minutes breathing in deeply through his nose and exhaling completely from his mouth.
"While doing this, I first try to quiet my mind of all things unnecessary, and then I run through my daily checklist. This helps me relax and focus on what's important and what I need to get done today to be successful."
5. Don’t Waste the Weekends.
Successful people don't sleep in just because it's a day of the week that starts with an "S." Setting the alarm bright and early on weekends is a habit that athlete-entrepreneurs Nikki and Chad Strickland say helps them push their athletic training to the next level. During the week, the competitive cycling duo trains smart, with shorter but efficient workouts. Weekends are their time to "go big" with longer, more challenging rides.
"On Saturday and Sunday we wake up, put on our kits, walk the dogs, eat some food and head out to the group rides," explains Nikki. "Most group rides last about four hours and can range anywhere between 40 and 100 miles, depending on the route." Once they're done, the two head out to refuel at their favorite local restaurants. "It's usually Mexican and margaritas," says Nikki.
6. Make It a Routine.
Even successful people get sidetracked and have "morning brain." Triathlete and business owner Tahra Makinson-Sanders admits to being easily distracted in the mornings with emails and marketing blogs. "I realized my day wasn't really starting until about 11 a.m.," she says. To keep her on track in the morning, she organizes her healthy habits into a simple, set routine.
She wakes up at 6.40 a.m. every day, has a healthy breakfast of cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt with nuts and berries, sits down at her desk and plans out her day. Next she gets to work on the hardest task on her to-do list. This makes her feel accomplished first thing in the morning and leaves time for emails and marketing blogs later in the day.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you considering adopting any of these habits? Do you have any morning habits that you think make you more successful? What other habits would you like to try? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We always love to hear from you!