We all know that highly successful entrepreneurs are doing something right, and not just at work. They are setting themselves up for more productive days and nights all around—but how do they do it?
With rock solid morning routines.
How you start the day can affect how the rest of it goes to a tremendous extent—including how much you achieve, how productive you are, how much energy you have, and how much you enjoy the time itself.
This is why almost all peak performers across industries have a morning routine. Achievement is no accident.
Successful entrepreneurs plan to achieve what they want to, prepare to do it, and execute on that plan—and they do it every day.
If your day starts unfocused, stressed, and unproductive, it is likely to carry on that way. A focused, energetic, and productive day has strong roots in routine.
This is something the world’s most successful entrepreneurs understand, and that’s why they prime their body and mind in the morning. By making time for self-development and setting goals at the start of the day, they ensure they can perform at peak levels the rest of the time.
By why in the morning? Willpower is often at its strongest and most consistent in the morning hours because sleep refreshes it. The body also produces a morning cortisol response when you wake up, which sends a boost of the stress hormone cortisol through the body. This means focused willpower plus a surge of energy starting about 20 minutes after you wake up.
But you basically already knew the science was on their side, right? So how do you improve your own morning routine?
The Habits and Morning Routines of Successful Entrepreneurs
Successful people are generally not that shy, and there’s plenty of information out there about what top performing entrepreneurs do. But how can you develop the perfect morning routine that makes the most of your existing strengths, minimizes your weaknesses, and fits your lifestyle while optimizing your productivity?
This is a trial-and-error process. Don’t think of a magician waving a wand, but of an engineer or inventor testing and tweaking the machine until it’s perfect.
These are the best practices for morning routines that help so many successful entrepreneurs and other peak performers do more with their energy, creativity, and time. Which of these morning routine hacks can you build into your day to help you reach new goals and boost your productivity?
Take Personal Time
Highly successful people are happier, less stressed, and more productive generally, in part because they place more value on their priorities over those of others. This comes in the form of claiming personal time that trumps outside messages, emails, and other distractions.
There is a lot of value in other forms of media, but successful people engage in actual reading of books. This is among the top habits of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, and it helps you aggregate knowledge and experience that would otherwise be out of reach.
Many successful entrepreneurs meditate regularly or every day. Whether it’s part of yoga or its own practice, breathing exercises, meditation, and other mindfulness practices help to clear the mind and prepare it to focus. It can feel like a tremendous challenge to slow down enough to meditate if you’re used to making it rain—but it’s worth your time and effort.
Keep a Journal
This is an excellent way to enjoy personal time, and clarify your thoughts and ideas on paper (or digitally). Journal about challenges, fears, goals, successes, and more. Before you know it, you’ll be writing your memoir.
Focus on Your Priorities
We all get lost in details and have trouble seeing the big picture at times. To focus in again on what really matters, take time each morning to focus on big priorities, before doing anything.
Focus on the mission for your business and your life. What kinds of progress have you made, and what challenges remain? What are you grateful for, and why does your mission still matter to you?
Once you have re-centered yourself this way, identify and focus on the top three things I want to achieve that day.
Credo or Morning Confession
A credo or morning confession is a daily affirmation or recitation. For people who use this tool, it tends to be the very first thing they say out loud every day.
“Credo” has its roots in faiths like Catholicism. But think of it in this context as a core mission statement that reflects deeply held personal identity.
The idea behind it is that your words shape your identity, so you cannot allow something so important—your identity—to be shaped by the words of other people. Think of this as a way of striving to verbally shape your own destiny and improve your mindset positively over time. It is also a way to anchor yourself back to that sense of core identity that matters to you.
An alternative to this is reading and repeating positive affirmations.
Exercise is something nearly all successful entrepreneurs fold into their morning routines—although everyone has their jam. You can do power yoga, hit the gym, run or walk, lift weights, ride a bike, join the peloton craze, start a morning dance routine, or start your day with a team sport. Never sacrifice your health or your passion for being outside, being active, or just playing.
Set Daily and Weekly Goals
Set weekly goals on Sunday night or Monday morning and two or three bigger tasks for the day each morning or the night before you want to get them done. Having this already done allows you to focus back in on your goals, even amidst a chaotic day. Other people and their tasks and priorities will easily suck up your time otherwise.
One work day ends only when the goals and needs of the next day are clear. When you have your goals for the next day clarified, even if they’re smaller goals, the rest of the day follows with higher productivity. Your lists of goals will help eliminate distractions.
Take the time to close your eyes and actually visualize yourself achieving your goals. Spend just a few minutes on this, in vivid detail, including feeling the success.
Success as an entrepreneur is most definitely tied to effort and work, but also to creativity. This is too often forgotten, so build brainstorming time into your morning routine when your mind is freshest and at its best. Can it happen in the shower or while making breakfast? If you focus on it, yes!
A 10-minute undisturbed session of creative brainstorming is all you really need. The goal is merely to generate any original idea, whether or not it’s related to the business. You are staying fresh and inspired.
Run Hot and Cold
Many well-known entrepreneurs such as Tony Robbins use extremely cold water to wake up in the morning. Others use saunas and heat therapy as performance enhancers, essentially—to boost productivity and thinking. You may not have access to a sauna, but you can probably try a cold shower!
Morning Cup as Ritual
If actual meditation isn’t your thing, consider turning your morning cup into a ritual that allows for some meditation. Learning to make your perfect cup of tea just right, or espresso, or pour-over coffee at home may not only save you money and help you wake up, but also help you start your day with a soothing yet energizing ritual.
The process of achieving the right grind, temperature, brew, and cup yourself instead of waiting in line at the coffee place wakes up your brain and jump starts the day. The drink itself is a rewarding boost of energy, and the ritualistic process allows your mind time to meditate on the details.
Mindfulness and Gratitude
To achieve a healthier, more positive mindset all day long, write down three to five things you are grateful for each morning. This also helps you realign goals as needed and refocus on your mission.
Yes, it can take some time to actually achieve the right morning routine! But once you do, be consistent.
Aim to keep the first hour of your day the same, no matter what. Set the alarm every day if that’s what you do. Exercise, meditate, eat well, each day. You are helping your mind and body realign and get everything you need for optimum performance.
Optimize the Routine
Speaking of optimum performance, start before bed the night before, for example with your coffee. If you’re a person who really needs that coffee first thing, have it loaded up and ready to hit “on”, or at least ready to be made.
Furthermore, you can avoid wasting time and experiencing decision fatigue making too many low-level decisions by optimizing your routine overall. Some successful entrepreneurs do this by planning what they’ll wear or eat in advance.
Check in Socially—in Doses
Many successful entrepreneurs cut off their social media and email access except during certain times. Jumping out of bed and into a smartphone is generally not a recipe for success, and can be a recipe for distraction.
However, if your social time works best when it’s worked into your morning, make it part of your routine! First thing may be the best time for you to respond to quick messages, check news, or keep the habit of checking in with family members and friends. This dovetails with the fact that using cell phones and texting all day long are major detractors from productivity at work. If you limit yourself to that one time of day for this kind of social interaction, you’re better off.
Being asleep all night long is critical for your brain and body, but it is also dehydrating. Experts agree that rehydrating when you wake up has health benefits for that reason. Water wakes up your brain and gets your organs and muscles working, so if you feel low energy, tired, or lethargic, realize you may be dehydrated.
Similarly, after an all night fast, your body and brain need powerfully healthful fuels. Take time to make a healthy breakfast every day.
Healthy foods should be part of your morning routine, even if you need to wait a bit to eat them. Aim for protein, vegetables and fruits, whole grains and complex carbohydrates, a bit of healthy fat, and whatever drink you prefer. That is an unbeatable combination that will help you stay feeling satisfied and power you for the morning.
Schedule Your Day
Time is among your most precious assets. You can’t generate any more time, but you can make more of what you have by scheduling—choosing what you will do and when you’ll do it.
Every morning, or the night before, plan your day. This is not just about how you will spend the hours, but about how that time spent will connect with tasks, goals, and priorities.
Get It Over With…
If you complete your most challenging task first thing in the morning, the rest of the day is necessarily easier. You also have the space to do without the endless distractions that tend to come in the middle of the day. First thing in the morning, you still aren’t being pulled apart by competing priorities, so tackle that tough task and give yourself an early win.
…Or Just Make Hospital Corners
If that big task first isn’t your style—and for many of us, or many tasks, it’s a bad fit—do the opposite. Start the day by making the bed or cleaning your desk just like you want it. This takes minutes and can improve your mindset for the entire day.
You can also translate this principle to your task list and tick off some of your easier work. Some entrepreneurs like to “warm up” in the morning by knocking out a few small tasks or clearing out their emails before moving on to the big deals. Just be mindful to ensure you’re not on autopilot and losing focus; you should be completing little tasks to gain a productive advantage, not allowing your inbox or other tools to dictate the pace or agenda.
Connect With Loved Ones at Breakfast
We put this last for emphasis, but honestly, it should always come first. It can be hard to slow down enough to make breakfast with your family if you are a real hustler, but it’s even harder at 5:00pm, right? Be there and be consistent for breakfast.
What Routines Will You Bring in to Your Life?
Whatever your dominant personality type is—active, emotional, practical, or social—you can make that work as an advantage as you create your optimal morning routine. Mix it up if you’re active, and feel that need with variety. Feed your more emotional type with plenty of time for introspection and personal time. Lots of structure and routine is best for practical types, while a morning routine that maximizes interactions and people time is best for social types.
But no matter who you are, you’ll be testing and tweaking your routine until you get it right. If you can’t stick to the routine and use it to transition to a more optimized state of success, it’s not right for you.
The best way to get started on your new morning routine is to just choose a habit that resonates best with you from the list above and really try it for a week. Observe yourself. What’s working, and what isn’t? If the habit works for you, refine and make it better. If it’s not your thing, try again!
You don’t have to get up hours before dawn, drink special green smoothies, bench press some huge number, or be an influencer to be successful. Experiment and find a morning routine that works for you. What’s your morning routine like?