If you’ve ever said “I just got out on the wrong side of the bed today”, you’ll already know how important the start of a day is. It can set up how the rest of your day goes, and if not done right, it can derail your plans. Starting the day with a good routine is important, and it’s something that many successful people swear by.
Whether it’s waking at a certain time, exercising or just eating a healthy breakfast, there are many things you can do to start the day right. Here are some suggestions for creating the perfect morning routine.
Maintain a fixed bedtime and waking time
If you want to be on top form in the morning, it’s no good being sleep-deprived. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is one of the busiest women on the planet. In an interview with USA Today, she revealed one of her top tips for getting ahead in the morning: She makes sure she gets a good night’s sleep.
Consistency is key to any successful routine. It is recommended that you set a fixed bedtime and wake-up time and sticking to them as often as you can. Not only will this set you up for a better day ahead, but it can also provide more restful sleep at night.
That’s because waking up and falling asleep at the same time sets your internal clock (your circadian rhythm) which makes for better quality sleep. Ideally, you should stick to the same sleep schedule every night so your body can find its natural rhythm and settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. an irregular sleep schedule can cause irritability, drowsiness, mood swings, concentration and memory problems, headaches, and a decline in cognitive skills.
Listen to your body when creating a sleep schedule. Some people enjoy staying up a little later at night, while others prefer waking up early in the morning. Keep it consistent and make sure you get between seven and nine hours of sleep nightly. Now here comes the challenge, in order for a sleep schedule to be effective you are encouraged NOT to have a sleep in on weekends. It’s perfectly fine to sleep in a little bit on Saturdays and Sundays, but don’t spend the day in bed simply because you can. Your body will never adjust to a set sleeping schedule if your weekend schedule is drastically different from your weekday routine.
Alarms, or no alarms?
Some people love to wake up at a certain time each day. In that case, setting an alarm is often critical to ensure you don’t oversleep. However, many successful people like Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post refuse to set alarms. They prefer to ensure they get 8 hours of sleep each night, letting their own body clock wake them when they’re ready.
Not everybody has the luxury of waking late and starting work when they please, however, which is why many people choose to set an alarm and get up early. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works best for you and your personal circumstances.
It’s no secret that breakfast is the most important part of the day, but many people feel too rushed in the morning to make something healthy and delicious. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school
This is why successful people like to start their day early. By getting out of bed early, they’ve got plenty of time to look after themselves with a healthy breakfast.
In a Q&A session for American Express OPEN Forum, Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) says he usually has fruit salad and muesli for breakfast. If you’re pushed for time in the mornings (and most of us are), it’s tempting to skip breakfast. But eating a healthy breakfast is an important way to fuel your body for the rigors of the morning and the day ahead.
If you’re resigned to never being a morning person, try to think of some healthy breakfast ideas that you can prepare the night before. That way, you can look after your body first thing in the morning with a healthy meal before starting work.
Read something motivational
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Many people check their phone notifications, which is a fairly practical habit. Unless it starts your day off in a negative mindset. Often, our phone notifications are some form of bad news, emails advising of a problem that needs to be solved or some other kind of demotivating information.
Rather than checking those news websites and Twitter feeds to see the latest thing that’s gone wrong in the world overnight, try to read something motivational first thing in the morning. Even if it’s a book of quotes or inspiring stories you keep beside the bed, it’s much better to start the day with something positive.
Get some exercise
Morning exercise doesn’t need to be time-consuming or difficult. Many people love getting up early and going for a run, maybe even a visit to the gym. However, not everybody has the time. If you’re in the latter category, try to find a quick exercise you can do in the morning to get your body moving. It might be an exercise bike or treadmill in your home. Even a simple aerobic workout. You can even try some yoga or meditation on the living room floor.
Fun fact: Your body naturally produces more “cortisol” in the morning. This makes you feel more alert and primed for your workout. In the evening, your body produces less cortisol, so it may be harder to convince your brain that it’s time to go, go, go.
Anything that gives you an endorphin boost in the morning is going to be great for your mindset as you work through the day.
If you want to become a morning exerciser, here ate a few tips:
- Give it time. It can take three to four weeks to adjust to develop a routine. Allow yourself the time to make it a habit
- Balance is key. If you’re looking to do more in the mornings, you’ll need to establish an earlier bedtime. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can be quite difficult to make the transition.
- Fuel up. It’s best to have some source of fuel, but it varies from person to person. Some people have a more sensitive stomach, so you may have to experiment with different foods to determine your best pre-workout fuel.
Give it. Go and see if it works for you. However, any exercise is better than no exercise at all. If you find it easier to fit in a workout during lunch time or after work, stick with the routine that works best for you.
Make the mornings work for you
Ultimately, it’s all about finding a routine that works for you. The above suggestions are just ideas that many successful people follow. But everybody has different situations, work and family responsibilities. If you suggested to a parent with three kids that they should get up, meditate, cook a healthy breakfast and watch a motivational YouTube video, they’d understandably be a little miffed.
The fact is, not everybody has the time to achieve greatness in the mornings. But if you can find a simple, convenient routine that works for you and the people around you, it can be a great way to start your day. With a positive mindset, you can approach the day with a sense of confidence that you’re ready to make things happen.