Hey Leader: Does Your Morning Routine Matter?
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs
Successful CEOs and business leaders have different ways of starting their days. Some depend on established routines, mapped out almost minute-to-minute, in order to extract the greatest productivity out of every day.
Others take a more chaotic approach, believing that winging it actually gets more done than some preordained system.
Top 3 Things in the Morning
The sheer variety by which CEOs and others start the day begs the question — does your morning routine really matter?
Yes, says corporate wellness coach Mike Iamele, and here’s why:
Three compelling reasons for a morning routine
- This is ideally the time to focus on yourself (there may not be another chance to do so all day). This is when you “consistently remind yourself that you’ve got to take care of yourself first before you can possibly be effective at helping others.” Those who adhere to a regular routine generally get more done because their morning routine acts as a reminder to first of all, take care of yourself.
- An established morning routine doesn’t have to be perfect — you don’t have to run five miles every day, your eggs don’t have to be perfectly cooked, etc. What truly matters is your willingness to get up and get moving according to a set pattern that propels you through the day. As Iamele says, “The fear of failure can’t hold you back, because if you do it every day, you’re inevitably going to fail once in a while. But that’s OK. You’ve got a routine, so you just get up the next day and do it again.”
- The previous day may have been difficult, overly demanding, even a bit traumatic. A solid morning routine acts as a “reset button” — a time to pause, meditate and shake yourself free of yesterday’s distress.
Not everyone needs a big breakfast to get moving in the morning. But health experts generally agree some type of breakfast is important for your physical health.
If preparing breakfast seems to take too much time, consider doing some prep work the night before. Slice up the fruit you intend to eat and store it in the refrigerator. Set out dishes you plan to use. Do everything you can to hit the ground running come morning.
Keeping things simple is another no-nonsense approach. For many people, a cup of coffee and an oatmeal muffin will suffice — or some other easy option like yogurt with fruit, a frozen fruit smoothie or a peanut butter breakfast bar.
Exercise Makes a Big Difference
Exercising at the crack of dawn isn’t for everyone, but even a little bit of physical movement can help clear your mind for the day ahead.
The good news is you don’t have to do the same type of workout every day.
Running, push-ups, swimming laps — whatever you choose, some strenuous activity boosts your energy level and helps you stay charged and focused throughout the day.
Start the Morning the Night Before
Some business leaders incorporate a brief evening ritual into their daily routine. At the end of the day, for example, Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, writes down the three top things he intends to accomplish the following day.
He uses that list to get started in the morning.
Tackle the Hardest Stuff First
Once you’re in the office, don’t waste valuable creative time looking over emails or listening to voicemails. “In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day,” says Kevan Lee of Buffer.
“Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage.”
A growing school of thought proposes that CEOs tackle their most challenging task or project at the beginning of the day. Proponents cite the fact that for most of us, the early hours of our workday are our most creative, energetic and productive (or have the potential to be). Why waste that precious time and energy on niggling administrative matters or chitchat with others that gets nothing done?
Corporate trainer Jennifer Cohen urges business leaders to start the day by focusing on what they least want to do.
“Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way,” she says. “Look at this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around.”
What’s your tried-and-true morning routine? Do you have a favorite breakfast item to start the day? What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay
She serves in Sales, Operations, coordinating, and Business Development