There are plenty of interviews and stories online about successful people and their morning habits. Often, these articles make the mistake of claiming that practising such habits will set you up for success. The reality is that while successful people may have come from humble beginnings, they’re now living lives vastly different to most. It can therefore be unrealistic or unfeasible to practise their habits.
That’s why, in this article, we look at the morning habits of successful people from all walks of life – including actors, attorneys, CEOs, gymnasts, talk show hosts, writers and more – to identify the habits they practise that are:
- beneficial to you and your productivity
- easy to incorporate into your daily morning routine
Read on to learn more.
Take the pressure off yourself
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, acknowledges that he’s “not a morning person” and so likes to have a low-key start to the day. He tends to wake up, read the papers, eat breakfast, and enjoy some tea before cracking on with work. This leisurely start allows him to think about the larger picture without succumbing to everyday stresses.
There are benefits to starting the day in a calm manner. A study on the relationship between wake-up mood and performance observed that participants who woke up on the “right” side of the bed, (that is, those who experienced a stress-free, positive morning), were more likely to deliver strong performances than those who woke up on the “wrong” side of the bed1.
While it can be difficult to manage your mood, you can adopt an approach of trying not to put undue pressure on yourself. What’s more, you can practise certain habits, some of which are explored below, to help tackle stress and lift your mood.
Set aside dedicated “you” time
The first thing the American writer Stephen King does when he wakes up is to “make a mental inventory of the things he’s grateful for”. He finds it’s a good way to review his life before starting the day. He’s not alone in making time for himself. Producer, actor, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey observes 20 minutes of silence to meditate.
While it might sound counterintuitive to boost your productivity by delaying work and focusing on yourself, findings indicate that meditation may help you when it comes to job performance and job satisfaction2. A study of short-term meditation training found it also leads to improved attention levels3. What’s more, meditation reduces stress and can improve not only your efficiency but your creative skills4.
Stretch your legs, go outside, exercise
The British entrepreneur Richard Branson credits exercise with putting him in the right frame of mind for work, and most of the successful people whose morning habits we reviewed feel the same way. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook finds exercise helps keep stress at bay, so much so that he’s fully embraced it and now considers himself to be a “fitness freak”.
It’s easy to see why successful people value exercise and incorporate it into their morning routines. There are plenty of benefits to consistently being active including, but not limited to:
- reducing stress
- building muscle mass
- strengthening bones
- enhancing memory
- improving sleep quality5.
Within the context of productivity, physical exercise can also improve cognitive function and wellbeing – as long as it’s tailored to the individual – to set you up nicely for the day6. Plus, it’s a good opportunity to complete your recommended 75 to 150 minutes of exercise per week7.
Set aside dedicated “productivity” time
Tim Cook is famous for rising at four in the morning – he’s certainly someone who knows how to wake up early. While we wouldn’t recommend his brutal routine of immediately diving into work and reviewing 700 to 800 emails, we would say his attempt to reduce his smartphone usage is a good idea. Cook claims his “notifications are declining” as he tries to preserve his work time for work.
If you’re waking up early to be more productive, it makes sense to limit your smartphone usage. A study of the effects of smartphone notifications on task performance found that they can cause sensitive reactions, resulting in a decline in concentration, cognitive function, and task performance8.
Follow a morning routine that suits you
The Japanese author Haruki Murakami follows a strict routine when writing. He wakes up at four, writes for six hours, goes for a run or swim in the afternoon, reads in the evening, and goes to bed at nine. “I keep to this routine every day without variation,” he said in his interview with The Paris Review. “The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerise myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”
Now, naturally, this is a routine that’s impractical for shift workers or people holding 9 to 5 jobs. However, for Murakami, and for most of the successful people discussed in this article, establishing and following a routine that suits them ensures they get the most out of themselves. Studies suggest this holds true for everyone. Routines, and the structure they provide, have a positive effect on our experience of MIL, or Meaning In Life9. This structure also provides a degree of control that can help with stress, particularly during unpredictable or turbulent times10. What’s more, if your routine is consistent with good sleep hygiene – such as, say, having fixed sleep and wake times – it can lead to better sleep11.
Take things one step at a time
While you may be keen to incorporate the above five habits into your morning routine, we’d urge you to make gradual, rather than sudden, changes. That’s because research consistently shows that too much change, done too fast, brings with it negative consequences12.
If you find you’re struggling to follow your new morning routine, especially because you wake up feeling tired, then you should try B・SYNC ON. It’s the world’s first clinically proven wake-up supplement. It can also be used to help your body adapt to a new schedule or routine. Our clinical study shows it can ameliorate sleep inertia symptoms – essentially enabling you to wake up with ease and energy.