11 Ways Successful People Start Their Mornings

11 Ways Successful People Start Their Mornings

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

Author Bio:  Sam is the main man at Financial Upside. Check out his guidance ranging from inspiration to education.  He’s easy to find on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or by RSS Feed.

Photo by: Stefano Corso


  1. kev says

    I love the idea of the Focus and TO-DON’T lists. Practical ideas that I intend to implement starting NOW.

    Thank you, yet again, for sharing helpful ideas on this blog. And to your guest writer, Sam… great contribution!

  2. says

    Your blog is really helpful for my continued self improvement. I have been following your blog for a long time now and i have benefited from your excellent ideas for improvement in life. Almost all of your articles are interesting and motivating. Here, in this article I really connected with your number 8 point: “First things first.” I agree that when it comes to achieving goals people should do what is required for that moment, to bring progress forward.

  3. Kris says

    In response to #2 (which favorite point in this post), my number one goal is keeping my family safe, healthy, and happy. I think with that comes happiness for myself :)

  4. says

    These are all great, though I have to question #11. I think lots of successful people ignore most of the news, because a) it’s often negative and disempowering b) nothing’s actionable on it (i.e. irrelevant to the day). If it’s truly important to have an effect on their life, they will know about it through others during the day.

    Instead, I would however suggest reading or watching something positive and empowering, rather than what most news sources provide.

    Besides that, I will be adopting some of these as part of a morning ritual myself – thank you!

  5. says

    Although I don’t have the energy and will power to exercise early mornings, your ideas on the “focus list” and “to don’t” list are superb.

    Instead of a to-do checklist, to have thought through what is most important and what must get done is paramount.

    And I love the thought of thinking through a “to-don’t list.” I’m definitely going to implement this.

  6. uche says

    You guys are really doing a good job,though this is my first time to come across your blog. The post on“ 11 ways successful people start their morning” has given me insight on how to start my morning positively. Thank you.

  7. says

    Great post!

    I like Point #3 – Review Your Too Don’t List. I never heard of the “too don’t list” before reading this post. Thanks for the idea. I’ll add check my email throughout the day to my “Too Don’t List.”

    Connecting with the ‘right people’ could be tricky for some folks. If you haven’t made great connections in the past, you may not trust your ‘intuition’ when it comes to meeting and connecting with the right people. Before you blindly trust anyone, get to know people and their true intentions.

    Have a Wonderful Wednesday.

  8. Jenny says

    Ok! Good to know I already do the majority of these to start my day along with coffee and lemon ginger water :) I shall work on #2 and #3. I just love mornings! Have a great day :)

  9. Jason says

    I’ve been struggling to find a proper morning routine. Thanks for the inspiration to move forward with creating a true jump-start to my day.

    And I have to agree with Drew on the news source. Maybe something a little more positive is in order.

  10. says

    I agree with you Drew. I stopped watching the news (and TV all together) and feel less wordly pressure…if that makes sense. Going home from work only to hear about all the bad things that happened beyond my control isn’t a good way to live. If it’s important…I’ll hear about it.

    Great article! I’m going to try to work on the #1…getting an early start. That also requires getting an early start in the evening. So tired… :)

  11. says

    I adore this post! All of it is so true as I have heard these here & there – I am keeping this and making a list with it, thank you for posting!

  12. says

    First things first and get the tough stuff done first. This is how successful people hit the nail on its head and drive success.

    The To-don’t list is a new thing that I learnt today.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. says

    Getting the right start to the day is so huge. If we just stumble into the day we often stumble on through.

    I get up before 6am every single morning and take a walk. In fact, I’ve identified 31 different “kinds” of walks that I take. They can include things like meditation, laughing, “dancing,” imagining, projecting, observing … well, 31 different walks.

    It’s had a profound effect on my life.

  14. says

    Hi, I agree with most of your points, but I disagree with the points made about Facebook and Twitter in #3. I have fine-tuned my Facebook to be one of the biggest instruments of productivity in my day. I’ve gotten tons of work from it.

  15. says

    Your point on relationships is important. In some countries (such as mine) relationships are more important than your skills. You can be the best in your field if you want a good job and you don’t have the right person at place it can be a very hard to obtain it, even impossible.

  16. says

    @Drew: Surely the average local news hour is a waste of time. It’s mostly negative fluff meant to fill air time. But staying up to date on more important current events is still important in most business relationship circles. For instance, not knowing who Ben Bernanke is or why North Korea is in the news so often would probably lead you into some horribly embarrassing dialogues with a boss or potential business partner.

    @Jack: I agree that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be used to effectively market a business or website. We use various social networking sites to promote our blog and other web properties on a daily basis. With that said, I think Sam’s point pertains to folks who are using Facebook and Twitter to socialize and entertain themselves – which is totally different than using these sites for business networking and client relations. He probably should have been a bit more clear when making this point.

    @Everyone else: Thanks so much for the positive feedback. And please, check out our friend Sam’s blog (linked to several times in this article). He’s a smart guy with some truly practical ideas for financial freedom and general success.

  17. Alexandra says

    I check your blog everyday. It is my favorite website I think :) Also I was never a huge facebook fan, but I have even been getting on it less and less; since time always seems to slip away when I’m browsing and chewing the fat haha :) this post has to be my favorite yet. I’ll bet I’m going to be the only highschooler in my town getting up at 5 am to do yoga…

  18. says

    waking up early is certainly a killer tip
    i never tried exercising as soon as i wake up but i assume it will give energy throughout the day
    thank you for the post :)

  19. says

    Wow! Great list. Nice reminder. I had been neglecting #6 (and others too, lol). Although in my case it’s my son. Partially because he doesn’t want me to do it in public. But I guess I could do it before we leave the house.

  20. Moonya says

    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.


  21. says

    I’ve been practicing the “getting an early start” so far this school year (I’m a teacher) and I’ve found it very helpful. Thanks for the other tips as well. Love your blog!

  22. says

    So I’m up in Paris at the equivalent of 2 a.m. EST and just wrapping up time out on the coast with the most so I feel as if I’ve got a great head start. That being said Thanks for the tips especially the one about the frog and those other things we hate to deal with. Keep up the good work.

  23. says

    Thank you for this awesome post. I think I will start utilizing a ‘To Do’ and ‘Do Not Do’ list. I spend a lot of time on the internet browsing for ways to enhance marketing when I should focus on being more productive. Thank you.

  24. says

    Good summary of the important points to live a more efficient life. Congrats. However, I do not fully agree with #11 “Stay informed” as it is written now. I would agree if you said “read the relevant industry blogs about new breakthroughs, product launches, etc.” These news inspire. But are regular news the right thing to stay informed? How does “Euro crisis” influence your actions of the day. It rather makes you depressed and stressed. The author Rolf Dobelli wrapped it up nicely. Successful people have a healthy news diet.

  25. says

    My company requires us to keep timesheets every day (so we know how much to bill our clients) and doing those helps me stay on task. It’s as if, when I get distracted, I go back to that sheet and remember what exactly it is I’m supposed to be doing, and then I go do that instead.

  26. says

    Without a doubt points #1 and #4 are one of the best things that helped me be productive. I have been doing this on and off when I can, but its difficult because one late night easily ruins the rest of my week.

  27. says

    Personally, I’m not a morning person, but this article makes me think that I should start becoming one :) Oh and I sure love that “To Don’t List”. I’m starting to think that too much FB and blog hops on the side makes me unproductive each day (especially during Mondays)!

    Seriously though, thanks for this list!

  28. says

    Thank you! I love it! I particularly like the idea of the “to don’t list.” All it takes is for me to find one email from a newsletter I signed up for, then I go to the video blog, then I explore the website, what people say, and the list goes on. Before you know it, I’ve spent a half hour away from my “to do list.”


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