What would a perfect morning look like to you?
Let me guess:
You wake up in time so you have time to exercise and do chores before you’re off to work. You get your most important work done right away. And you’re full of energy the rest of the day.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
At the same time, successful people seem to understand what makes a productive morning. So why not learn from them?
I’m not talking about things like waking up at 4 AM and doing yoga for two hours.
Instead, I’m talking about creating a morning routine you can use even if you have to commute to work and don’t have a full-time nanny.
Want to learn more?
Read on to learn six unusual things successful people do differently every morning.
Why creating a morning routine is key
I get it:
It’s fun to read about successful people and their morning habits.
After all, they’re successful, so it must work…?
Not so fast.
Yes, morning habits work.
A simple habit, like making your bed, causes a chain reaction of habits. You stick to one thing, so your brain gets used to sticking to habits.
And absolutely, habits, like going to the gym and planning your day, are a great start.
But let’s remember:
We’re all different.
Things like waking up at 4:30 AM might or might not work for you.
And that’s the key to unlocking successful morning routines:
Do things that work for you and that serve your goals.
You don’t need a complicated routine. Instead, use these six tips to create simple and actionable habits you can use every day:
1. Wake up at 5 AM… Or 10 AM.
Richard Branson gets up at 5:30 AM.
Michelle Obama at 4:30 AM.
And Apple CEO Tim Cook at 3:45 AM.
If you don’t get up by 5 AM, you’re doomed to an unproductive life… right?
You see, everyone has their own sleep cycle.
Yes, some are morning people (about one in four).
Half of us are in the middle (neither a morning nor a night person).
Around one in four is a night owl. For these people, getting up at 5 AM goes against their sleep cycle. So they end up being anything but productive.
There are plenty of examples of successful people who are or were late risers.
Take Mark Zuckerberg who gets up at 8 AM. Or Winston Churchill who woke up at 7:30 AM, but didn’t get out of bed before 11 AM.
The point is:
If it feels unnatural to you to get up extremely early in the morning… Then don’t do it.
Focus on what works for you.
Now, your wake-up time doesn’t necessarily affect your productivity…
…But your sleep does.
And that leads us to the next step:
2. The key to a successful morning routine? It’s not what you think.
Successful people, like Barack Obama and Jennifer Aniston, do a lot of things to kickstart their day.
They exercise, yoga, meditate… All that good stuff.
But in the end, these are not the main reasons they keep productive throughout the day.
Nope. The real reason is much simpler:
Almost everyone needs 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Only a few need less sleep.
And a study shows what happens when people get too little sleep:
People who got 6 hours of sleep every night for two weeks functioned as poorly as people who stayed up for two days straight.
They thought they were functioning just fine.
Arianna Huffington, founder of HuffPost, knows the importance of sleep. Here she talks about why sleep is a non-negotiable for a successful life:
3. Do this simple exercise to stay productive the entire day.
What’s a simple thing you can do for 5-15 minutes every morning that will have a big impact on your day? (Doesn’t matter if you commute to work or have to get your kids ready… It’s that simple.)
Visualize your day.
You see, Phelps visualizes his competitions in excruciating detail.
What the water feels like, how he uses his arms, and so forth.
No wonder he’s a record-breaking Olympic swimmer.
Research shows that visualizing helps you achieve goals.
You need to visualize your goal and the steps you take to achieve it.
So how can you use this in practice?
Do this every night before you go to sleep:
Sit down somewhere quiet. Close your eyes and focus on taking a few deep breaths. Then, start visualizing your day from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep.
Obviously, you can’t visualize everything second by second like Michael Phelps (this would take you several hours).
Visualize a “high-speed” version of your day. Or, key moments like your morning or an important meeting or a call.
4. Create your perfect day.
It’s easy to forget, isn’t it?
You have the ultimate say in what your mornings and days look like.
What do I mean?
Productivity expert Laura Vanderkam explains this in her TEDx talk.
Vanderkam interviewed several busy and successful people.
One of the women had 6 kids. On top of that, she ran a small business with 12 employees.
It’s easy to imagine how busy she must’ve been.
When Vanderkam asked to interview her, she couldn’t.
But it wasn’t because of work.
It was a Thursday morning and she was out hiking.
She probably had a massive to-do list. But she decided to go hiking.
Now, why do you think she did this?
She did what she prioritized.
And you can do this, too.
Prioritize the things you want to prioritize.
If you want to go on that 1-hour jog, do it. Or a brunch or just spend quality time with your kids? Go for it.
In the end, it’s up to you.
5. Want to feel great? Talk to yourself.
Steve Jobs famously said:
“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?’”
So yeah, talking to yourself can be a powerful exercise.
But why not take it to the next level?
Give yourself a pep talk.
Here’s the deal:
When you hear something often enough, you begin to believe it.
That’s because your brain loves clarity. And familiarity is one of the things that makes things clear. When things are familiar and clear, your brain assumes it must be true.
Now, what if you repeat something over and over again?
It becomes familiar and your brain will eventually have an easier time believing it.
So develop a mantra. It could be something you want to achieve or the person you want to become.
“I’m a person who gets out of bed the minute my alarm clock goes off.”
“I will only check emails at 12 PM and 4 PM today.”
Say this exact same mantra every day before you go to work.
You’ll be surprised by how effective this simple exercise can be.
6. Journal… Or do one of these things.
You’ve probably heard it before.
Successful people, like entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, journal in the morning.
But what if you just don’t know where to start?
Here’s what to do instead:
Schedule 15 minutes every morning.
To get your creative juices going, pick three items around you.
Then, write a short story about these items.
Feel you’re not creative enough in the morning?
No worries. Here’s what to do instead.
Write down three things you’re grateful for today.
Not only does this make your mornings much more creative. Expressing gratitude every day can have a huge impact on how happy and rooted you feel.
Conclusion: Creating a morning routine that works for you
There you have it.
These are the six most powerful things successful people do differently every morning.
Now, let me know in the comments below:
Which of these tips will you implement tomorrow morning to create your own morning routine?
Remember, you don’t have to go all in. In fact, the easiest way to succeed is to start small and then improve from there.