As an entrepreneur your time is your most valuable resource, it’s the one thing you cannot get back no matter how hard you try. It really is true that those who master time effectively, master their success. The real key to time isn’t the amount of hours you work everyday, but how effectively and efficiently you spend the time that you have.
So let’s focus on the most important time of your day: the morning. What you do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. There’s a reason why so many successful entrepreneurs share so many similarities in their morning rituals. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional bodybuilder or blogger, all agree that having a positive experience every morning is essential for success.
“It’s simple: If you want to be more productive, get up early.” – Ryan Holiday, international best-selling author.
Having a set ritual or routine may seem boring or off-putting to some, but having keeps your brain focused and on track by eliminating the unnecessary stress in your daily life. Having a constant ritual will actually help you reinforce the positive behavior and attribute you want to see in yourself.
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have these because we have acted rightly; these virtues are formed in man by doing his actions; we are we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.
This article is going to equip you with the ability to exponentially increase your productivity by hacking the morning ritual. Start your day off on the right side of bed and in the right kind of headspace. You’ll be surprised by how much more you can achieve simply by having a better start to your day.
The Night Before
Although it may sound silly, the first and most important part of your morning preparation is actually the night before. Like everything else, the key to having a positive start to the day lies in the preparation.
“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” – Aesop, Ancient Greek Philosopher and Fabulist.
Get a good night’s rest. It’s common sense yet so many people ignore it in an effort to try to get some work in. While being tired can actually stimulate your brain’s capacity to be creative research has shown that a lack of sleep actually leads to increases in negative emotion. This is due to a lack of sleep creates a disconnect between the amygdala, the part of your brain that triggers your fight or flight reflex and also regulates emotions like fear, anxiety and anger, and the area of the brain that regulates its functions. Having a bad night’s sleep will increase your everyday stress and make you more irritable.
Download free applications like f.lux onto your computer in order to remove the dreaded effects blue light has on your brain for a better night’s sleep. If you’re on using an Android phone then use Twilight to achieve the same effect.
As the President of the United States Barack Obama has his own share of tips and tricks on how he prepares himself the next day.
“Get a head start on tomorrow, tonight.” – Barack Obama, President of the United States.
Responsible for making potentially world-changing decisions everyday, Obama strives to eliminate decision fatigue from his routine as much as possible, prioritizing what tasks require his attention and delegating the rest to his aides. As a self-described night owl he’ll work as late as 11.30pm into the night doing work and preparing for tomorrow before heading off to bed.
Before you write off meditation as one of those things that just isn’t for you, remember that there are many different ways to meditate and that there are multiple studies that advocate the benefits of meditation.
“In the morning I stand up, scratch a little bit, then I light a candle and I meditate. Every morning. I’ve been meditating for maybe 20 years. I meditate so I can make choices — so I’m not a sheep all the time. So I can see better than what everyone else is doing.” – Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam.
Meditation has proven to increase your focus, reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory and stimulate creativity.
Clinical studies have even proven that regular meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in your brain. If you go to the gym to train a muscle, then meditation is what trains your mind.
‘The first thing I do in the morning is retreat to my den and meditate, I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, closing my eyes, clearing my mind, and repeating my mantra until I’m in a semiconscious state. Sometimes, I’m wrestling with an issue before meditation, and afterward the answer is suddenly clear.” – Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods.
Meditation in the morning will allow you the time and space to get into the right mindset and figure out the best plan of attack for the day. Doing this every morning will work especially well for those who don’t classify themselves as morning people.
Here’s a fascinating conversation between Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose where they talk about their own personal meditation techniques among other incredibly interesting topics.
Whether you’re just making the conscious choice to ride your bike to work, or go to the gym, or even start the day off doing some stretches, resisting the urge to hit the snooze button and exercising in the morning has numerous benefits.
Anna Wintour, the legendary editor-in-chief of Vogue, would play an hour-long tennis match at 5.45am in order to get her day started. Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine, does an extremely simple set of exercises to get the blood moving.
“Daily exercise in the morning gets me energized and fired up for the day ahead. Exercise makes me feel happy and great about myself. This then flows into the day and helps me stay focused and sleep better. Research has shown that exercise is a keystone habit which makes other habits much easier to develop. My exercise habit has spawned off a number of other habits, such as daily meditation and an evening walk — which also contribute to my personal happiness and success.” – CEO and founder of Buffer.
For those shaking their head and shuddering at the thought of muscle pain and sweat, don’t think of it as an exhausting chore. Instead see it as a worthwhile investment of time and energy into your own personal health, both physically and mentally. If you don’t take care of your body, how can you be expected to take care of your business?
“Half an hour of exercise in the morning makes for better interactions all day.” – Tom Rath, international best-selling author on leadership.
Research has shown that regular exercise actually improves the areas of the brain that are responsible for memory and concentration. You’ll actually find yourself being able to focus better and witness an overall improvement of your productivity at work. MRI scans of the brain actually show that your brain is more active and productive after exercise.
Physically speaking you’ll find that you have longer lasting energy and actually improve your overall quality of sleepy, as well as regulate your sleeping patterns. That’s because once you get into the habit of regularly exercising in the morning your body primes itself to wake up when you want it to, you can actually train yourself into becoming a morning person.
Take a look at the 7 Minute Workout app if you’re finding yourself struggling to exercise in the morning.
One of the worst feelings is waking up suddenly, realizing you’re late for work and that sudden panic-induced adrenaline dump sends you sprinting around trying to play catch up on work for the rest of the day. There’s no order, no organization, no plan of attack. You’re just running around trying to hit every target and, more often than not, you’ll find yourself falling short.
So instead of running around like a chicken with their head cut off, take a moment every morning, to evaluate what needs to be today.
“My favorite part of the morning is setting aside 15 minutes to organize my thoughts. I always ask myself what are the three new things I would like to accomplish today.” – Donna David, founder of Donna David & Co, a professional organizing business.
Taking 15 minutes to organize your goals for the day will cut hours of unproductivity from your work.
Here’s a neat exercise from Warren Buffet where all you do is create a list of all the goals you’d like to reach, and then choose which are the top 5 most important. You know focus on those 5 and ignore the rest.
While those other tasks may be important they don’t require your immediate attention meaning they can be delegated to someone else. Do as Buffet suggests and keep it simple. Only spend your energy on what what’s most important.
A neat trick I learnt was to ensure that that all my goals were S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely. I ensure that all my goals follow this simply acronym to ensure that I get the most out of my work day.
Outside of goal setting take some time out to physically tidy up your workspace. Research has shown that we become more productive in areas with warmer temperatures and natural sunlight. That and cleaner and more organized workspace will subconsciously make us happier and more satisfied with our work.
It’s hard to stay motivated as an entrepreneur. Setbacks and failures take their toll after a while and you can slowly find your ambition slowly being eroded away. After all, you’re human and dealing with burnout is no easy thing.
Even the people we envy as being successful will experience that mental and emotional fatigue every now and then. That’s why so many successful executive and entrepreneurs take time out every morning to reflect and be grateful of what they have and what they’ve achieved so far.
“Business moves at the speed of light right now, but at some point every day it is important to step off the machine and find your purpose and refocus your motivation.” – Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures.
It’s been proven that being grateful creates a much healthier and positive mindset. You’ll find yourself making better decisions, attracting the right kind of people, spending your money more wisely and allowing yourself to be creative.
You’re essentially removing the mindset of constantly thinking about what others are doing and instead concentrating on yourself. You’ll no longer be feeling the desire to play catch up but instead focus on reaching your full potential.
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs, founder of Apple.
No one but yourself is accountable for your happiness. At the end of the day it’s up to you to make the necessary changes that benefit you. Taking 5 minutes every morning to evaluate and appreciate what you have and how far you’ve gotten will remind you of that. It can even awaken the unexpected energy and motivation to make the necessary changes.
There are many ways that we can show gratitude every morning. Whether it’s keeping a gratitude journal, a silent prayer or just saying a simple ‘thank you’ to your loved ones. You should always strive to be grateful.
“Those who have the ability to be grateful are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness.” Steve Maraboli
Let’s face it, mornings aren’t for everyone. But it’s been proven time and time again that many of the most successful entrepreneurs out there make the most of out of their mornings, and you should to. After all, you can’t win a race if everyone else had a head start.
Try out one of the tactics offered, or combine them all. See what works and find yourself achieving more than you ever have before.
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