by Sam of Financial Upside
The day may have 24 hours of equivalent length but every hour is not created equal. Beginning the day with a purpose and a plan increases your chances of success.
In her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam writes, “Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself first. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen.”
Here are 11 smart ways to start your day. I would suggest that the most successful people do the majority of these things during the first couple hours of their morning as part of their daily routine.
- Get an early start. This extra time will help you avoid speeding tickets, tardiness and other unnecessary headaches. In addition, most markets and businesses open by 9 A.M. Whether you work from home or commute to an office, the more time you’ve had to digest the day’s news and obstacles ahead, the greater advantage you’ll have over your competition.
- Review your Focus list. What is your number one goal right now? What’s most important to you? What makes you happy? Design your time around these things. Remember, time is your greatest limited resource, because no matter how hard you try you can’t work 25/8.
- Review your TO-DON’T list. A ‘TO-DON’T list’ is a list of things not to do. It might seem amusing, but it’s an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of unproductive habits, like checking Facebook and Twitter, randomly browsing news websites, etc. Create one and post it up in your workspace where you can see it.
- Exercise. Other than the obvious health benefits, movement increases brain function and decreases stress levels. Developing a consistent habit of exercising is a discipline which will carry over into your business day – Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is in the gym by 5 A.M. every morning. If you can, go outside for a walk, or jump on the treadmill and start out slow. This will jump-start your metabolism and your day.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Your brain and body speed are a function of what you intake. Bagels, muffins and sugars have the tendency to slow you down. Fruits, proteins and grains help provide a consistent stream of energy without the sudden drop-off. Try a mixture of orange, apple and lemon juice with a spinach omelet one morning and let me know how much better you feel.
- Kiss your partner goodbye. It sounds cheesy, but most truly successful people have a great home life. Acknowledging your partner (and kids) mentally relaxes you, allowing you to focus on the day ahead. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re striving to be successful so they may benefit as well.
- Practice 15 minutes of positive visualization. In his program Get the Edge, Tony Robbins explains the importance of gratitude visualization first thing every morning. In a nutshell, spend roughly 15 minutes thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like. After that, visualize everything you want in your life as if you had it today. The effect? Elevated certainty in everything you do, and always being in peak state. Despite how ‘new age’ it sounds, it’s had incredible effects on associating success into my every-day life.
- Put first things first. Successful people recognize that not all hours are created equal, and they strategically account for this when planning their day. For most of us, our minds operate at peak performance in the morning hours when we’re well rested. So obviously it would be foolish to use this time for a trivial task like reading emails. These peak performance hours should be 100% dedicated to working on the tasks that bring you closer to your goals.
- Eat that frog. Brian Tracy’s classic time-management book Eat That Frog gets its title from a Mark Twain quote that says, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else will be more difficult. In others words, get the tough stuff done first.
- Connect with the right people. Relationships are the basis of business – communication is the basis of relationships. Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive. These people create energy when they enter the room, versus those who create energy when they leave. Connecting with these positive people in the morning can set you up for a positive day.
- Stay informed. Whether you prefer National Public Radio or the Wall Street Journal, spend a few minutes each morning learning about what is going on in the world. Not only will it educate you, it may change your perspective or inspire your actions for the day.
Photo by: Stefano Corso