Tempted to sleep in? Read these tips from top performers to take back your mornings and make each day more productive.
In his motivational speeches, American speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn often challenged his audience: “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
Many would consider the latter to be a closer description of their daily grind. But successful business leaders know that the most powerful choice they can make to determine the day’s productivity is made first thing in the morning, or even the night before: Rising early.
The sound of the alarm may be the last thing you want to hear after a good night’s rest, but studies show that keeping off the “snooze” button can do wonders for your well-being.
Contrary to what society or our own reluctance to wake up early would have us believe, being a morning person is not a personality trait but a constant, conscious decision.
Here are some ways you can make the most out of your mornings as a business leader:
Get out of bed before the sun rises
The road to productivity hell is paved with good intentions – and thousands of alarm clocks on snooze. Ensure that the first decision you make is the first of many productive ones throughout the day.
While it’s common to justify a few extra minutes – which tend to stretch into hours – of shut-eye, studies show that dallying in bed actually depletes your energy instead of restoring it.
Still having trouble getting out of bed? Try positioning your alarm clock across the room. Are you a heavy sleeper who sleeps through even the loudest of alarms? Try downloading apps like EQUAlarm <http://www.idownloadblog.com/2014/10/17/equalarm/> or FreakyAlarm<http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/new-freakyalarm-won-shut-offf-math-equationsare-solved-article-1.1287575>, which requires users to solve math problems and puzzles to turn off the alarm.
Take time for yourself
First Lady Michelle Obama shared in an interview how a simple paradigm led her to value time for herself: “I just started thinking, if I had to get up and go to work, I’d get up and go to work. If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up and do that. But when it comes to yourself, then suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that.”
Forget about finding time and start making it. Recharge with a healthy breakfast or meditate like Oprah. Swim a few laps while developing out-of-the-box business ideas like Richard Branson. Read a few pages of a long-unread book. Start the passion project that’s been gathering dust at the back of your head. Whatever interest or project you decide to pursue, keep yourself motivated to get up earlier in the morning and jumpstart your drive for the rest of the day.
Put your thinking cap on
Mornings are the most conducive time for creative and planning-intensive tasks, since stressors such as work, household responsibilities, relationships and other concerns tend to take their toll on our focus throughout the day. As psychologist Tom Stafford noted, our waking hours allow us to approach ideas with fresh eyes.
According to Stafford, “An interesting aspect of the dream world: the creation of connections between things that didn’t seem connected before. When you think about it, this isn’t too unlike a description of what creative people do in their work – connecting ideas and concepts that nobody thought to connect before in a way that appears to make sense.”
Set off for work early
After a productive morning, nothing drains one’s energy faster than a drive to work gone awry. To counter this, top business leaders and executives beat the morning rush by rising early.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, goes one step further and gets a headstart on work by sending e-mails to colleagues at 4:30 AM.
Waiting to give a presentation or to participate in a meeting? Waking up early and arriving ahead of time puts you at ease – helping you prepare ideas, participate more actively and put things into perspective with greater efficiency.
Your turn: How do you make good mornings great by setting an earlier alarm? Share your tips in a comment below!