The most successful people all seem to agree that what they do first thing in the morning greatly affects the rest of their day. They may choose different activities to start the day, but there are two consistent common denominators: The routines become habit through consistency, and they’re designed for healthier, more productive lifestyles.
People who have accomplished extraordinary feats share a characteristic ability to perform seemingly impossible amounts of work. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but look at what some people can accomplish in a week, a month, or a year. These leaders are known for embracing the process, taking action, and needing very little time to make key decisions.
Operating at this level requires a lot of physical energy, mental clarity, and drive, all of which stem largely from a healthy morning routine.
Healthier = More Productive
Many of the same principles that make people more productive also improve their health and well-being. For instance, eating proteins and healthy fats at breakfast raises your levels of motivational neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and acetylcholine. The same habit also stabilizes blood sugar and lowers inflammation.
For many successful leaders, physical activity is another important component of their morning routines. Whether it’s hiking, yoga, or weight training, morning exercise increases mental clarity, energy levels, and even creativity. It also greatly increases your chances of eating healthier throughout the day.
In essence, a healthy morning routine creates the physical and mental momentum to keep you going throughout the day.
Build a Better Morning Routine
A Spanish proverb states that habits start as cobwebs and then become cables. This is certainly true for both good and bad habits, and your health can get away from you quickly if you let it. Unfortunately, many people’s routines consist mainly of hitting the snooze button, reaching for caffeine and sugar to increase energy, wishing for more motivation, reaching for more caffeine and sugar, and then spending most of the morning craving lunch.
I have personally benefited from changing my morning routine, starting with breakfast. After trading cereal and oatmeal for meals like steak and eggs about 10 years ago, I have realized that I respond better to a low-carb, high-protein breakfast with healthy fats. I have more energy than ever throughout the day, and I no longer need a 10 a.m. pick-me-up. I also saw bloodwork improvements, including a better hemoglobin A1C score, which is linked to longevity.
As I became healthier, I also became more productive. With a growing business, I often have multiple projects running simultaneously. I strongly believe in the Pareto principle, which states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. In the morning, I prioritize daily tasks based on needs and wants. What I need to do gets done first, and what I want to do is done when time allows or gets delegated to someone else. It has lowered my stress tremendously and made me much more efficient.
But making your mornings healthier and more productive isn’t an overnight change. It takes some effort, and these four steps can help you get started on the right track:
1. Set short-term goals.
Many experts believe that it takes 21 to 30 days to establish a habit. It might be hard at first to establish a healthy morning routine, but you can do it for 30 days! After you see the results and your routine becomes normal, you’ll be more likely to continue on with it.
2. Focus on breakfast.
Like myself, many experts believe proteins and healthy fats are imperative at breakfast. Experiment with the quantity and type of carbs you eat in the morning. Fruits, grains, and possibly oatmeal may work well for you in moderate amounts. Assess how you feel 90 minutes after eating — if your energy levels are good, you have likely hit your ideal mark. Keep it up!
3. Organize your life.
I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t benefit from a little more organization. Being more organized reduces excessive stress; therefore, it reduces the risks of stress wreaking havoc on your health and causing you to make irrational decisions. Working hard is admirable, but without organization, you’re simply spinning your wheels.
4. Wake up your nervous system.
Tony Robbins and Wim Hof — two gurus I greatly admire — are big proponents of deep breathing and cryotherapy in the forms of ice baths and cold showers. Both of these methods increase the neurotransmitters involved in motivation and mental clarity, and both methods have dozens of health benefits, including improved energy production and hormone regulation.
While the most successful people can sometimes emit an aura of invincibility, the truth is a bit more practical: They have mastered the art of the morning routine. The good news is that you can, too. Having an established routine creates physical and mental momentum to keep you going, and when you utilize this momentum daily, you can accomplish greater feats throughout your lifetime.