The way you start your day can set the tone for how the rest of it will follow. Your probability of success can fluctuate depending on what you choose to do with those critical hours before your workday gets underway. That’s why the morning routines of leaders can offer insights into how they are able to create the successful businesses, products, and achievements we see today.
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Here are the everyday morning habits of some of the most successful thinkers in the world that you can embrace.
1) They don’t need alarms
From starting a daytime television show to launching her own network, media mogul Oprah Winfrey has proven, time and again, that she can set forth her intention and will it into action. That includes how she wakes up.
In a diary, she explained how she sets her internal clock: “I have never set an alarm, I don’t believe in them. They are … alarming! I put the number in my mind and I wake up before that, usually between 6:02 and 6:20, because the dogs are trained to go out around that time. My first thought in the morning is, ‘Oh, I’m alive. Thank you!’ ”
2) They get enough sleep
To wake up without an alarm clock, it helps to get enough sleep. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, another business leader who also wakes up naturally, says he prioritizes getting eight hours of sleep a night.
“For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited,” he told Thrive Global. To start the best morning routine, you need to prepare for it the night before.
3) They wake up early
Many of the successful people in the world are up and going while the rest of the world sleeps. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is known for getting into the office at 7 a.m., while Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour is out playing an hourlong tennis match every day at 5:45 a.m.
If you want to be an early riser, it helps to make your bedroom a waking environment. Businesswoman Martha Stewart said that letting light into her room helps her wake up: “I have no shades on my windows, so I usually wake up with sunrise, which has been around 5 a.m. I generally read the New York Times right away,” she told The Cut.
4) They journal
Mock said that after she gets up at 6 a.m., she sits down to journal: “It’s this thing called ‘Morning Pages,’ which are three longhand pages. I sit at my desk, and write whatever is on the top of my head, I get all the trash out of my head. It’s not great writing, it’s just like a purge, like there it is, I’m over it, it’s done, it’s contained.”
5) They exercise
Morning exercise is a daily habit listed by many successful leaders. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who is the owner of lifestyle company Goop, said that she regularly works out from 10 a.m. to noon after checking emails. Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates likes to multitask with his morning treadmill workouts and will watch “DVDs from the Teaching Company’s ‘Great Courses’ series” while exercising, according to The New York Times.
As Niki Leondakis, the CEO of the luxury lifestyle brand Equinox, who regularly does morning yoga, puts it: “I’ve always known that you have to be physically healthy and strong to be mentally healthy and strong. It’s all connected.”
6) They spend time with loved ones
Bezos has said he does not usually schedule early-morning meetings because he wants to spend that time eating breakfast with his wife. “I wanted her to get the best hours of my day,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 1999.
7) They go outside
Cal Newport, self-improvement author of “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” goes for a morning walk with his dog when he wakes up. He said that it can be a creative, meditative time. “It’s dark when the walk starts, but I don’t mind the solitude … For me, interesting thoughts have a tendency to emerge when the rest of the world is quiet.”
When playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was working on his acclaimed musical “Hamilton,” he told the New York Times that he would start his mornings with long walks outside with his dog, Tobillo: “We’ll do two hours in Central Park. It gets my mind going.”
8) They practice gratitude
Business and life coach Tony Robbins has a detailed guide on how we should start our mornings off right. But if motivational incantations, exercise, and Kapalbhati Pranayama yoga breaths are not your style, there’s one tip that all of us can do each morning to make our days better: practicing gratitude. Robbins recommends slowing down your breaths and thinking of three things you are grateful for today, spending about a minute on each thing. They do not have to be big moments of gratitude, they can be as small as enjoying the cool air on your face.
“The reason I picked gratitude is because when you’re grateful you can’t be angry. And when you’re grateful you can’t be fearful,” he explained.