Ask any entrepreneur how they do it, and they’re bound to tell you it starts with their morning schedule. “If you win the morning, you win the day,” business guru Tim Ferriss likes to say.
What does it take to “win the morning”? While every entrepreneur has a different routine, they all know the importance of maintaining a healthy, consistent morning schedule. Here are their secrets:
1. Improve your sleep regimen.
The most important part of any solid morning routine is what happens beforehand: sleep. To build the energy, focus, and stamina you need for the day, get between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted rest each night.
How can you maintain that when there are so many demands on your time? Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Keep technology, bright lights, and anything that makes loud noises out of the bedroom. If you experience uneven or poor sleep, keep a sleep journal and ask a medical professional.
2. Wake up early enough.
Although some entrepreneurs swear by waking up before sunrise, not everyone is a morning person. What’s important isn’t necessarily waking up at 5 a.m., but rather waking up early enough to focus on yourself and prepare for your day.
Determine how early you need to wake up by writing down your morning habits. Include everything from brushing your teeth to eating breakfast to taking a jog. Note how much time each task typically takes you. Then, work backward from when you need to leave the house, leaving a five- or ten-minute cushion in case everything doesn’t go as planned.
3. Meditate on the day ahead.
Many health conditions that working professionals suffer from can be traced back to stress. Entrepreneurs have high-stakes meetings with investors, budget reviews, HR matters, and more weighing on their minds.
One of the best ways to start the day well is to meditate. Meditation is proven to reduce stress, fight depression, and increase energy. Some people simply listen to their breathing, while others pray, and still others chan a mantra. Whatever helps you find calmness and clarity for the day ahead, go for it.
4. Squeeze in quality time.
The proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” has stuck around for a reason. Almost 10 million Americans work 60 or more hours per week, including a good number of entrepreneurs.
Rather than get to work as soon as you wake up, treat your mornings as time away from it. Write in your journal, read a book, go for a walk, or eat breakfast with your family. Whatever is fun for you first thing in the morning, make time for it.
5. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Work days are long. To ensure you have energy for the whole thing, start your day with a glass of water and a healthy breakfast. Even if you’re not a “breakfast person,” water will wake up your body and flush out toxins. Follow it with a banana, a couple of eggs, or a cup of yogurt. Avoid foods heavy in simple carbs, such as sugary cereals and fruit juice.
6. Do more with your morning commute.
Between work and family life, there’s never enough hours in the day to get everything done. If you have a daily commute, use it to your advantage: Accomplish minor tasks, such as online scheduling and answering emails, on your commute so you can focus on the big tasks during your scheduled work hours. If background noise is an issue, use ear plugs to preserve your focus.
7. Know your most productive hours.
Balancing work and life doesn’t necessarily mean that you must work a 9-to-5 job. Think about the hours when you feel sluggish: Is that post-lunch lull a problem? Do you struggle with mid-morning meetings?
If you’re an entrepreneur, simply tell your team that you’re shifting your schedule. Otherwise, talk to your manager about it. If you really shine during the 6-9 a.m. period, she might let you come in early and take off before everyone else. Just be sure you’re available for your work appointments and meetings.
Entrepreneurs who succeed maximize their time. Set up your morning schedule for success, and watch everything else follow in its footsteps.