Feeling sluggish and you’ve still got 30 minutes until lunch? Finding yourself counting down the minutes until you can leave work at a reasonable hour? Squirming in your office chair with uncontrollable jitters? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in need of a wellness overhaul.
No, we’re not talking about a juice cleanse or a fad diet. It’s high time you transform the way you start your workday so that you’ll have more energy, be more focused on the tasks at hand, and you’ll be primed for success. Here are eight morning rituals to adopt that’ll transform your workday.
1. Take Time for Breakfast
Breakfast can be a time to tune into your surroundings and have a quiet moment before a hectic day. “While eating, don’t think about what you have to do next or all the things you have to do that day. Your breakfast is there for you; you have to be there for your breakfast,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day. Hanh suggests eating breakfast at home, while sitting, instead of while you’re walking out the door.
2. Question Yourself
Before going to work every morning, Steve Jobs, the revolutionary founder and former CEO of Apple, used to look in the mirror every morning and ask himself “if today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?” Jobs said that if the answer was “no” for too many days in a row, it was time to reevaluate his priorities. Making big questions a part of your daily routine can put the small things in perspective.
[Related: Browse Over 5000 Jobs At Apple]
3. Spend Time with Family
Spending time with loved ones is a boost that powers many successful people through the day. Samantha Power, the outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations, uses the mornings to spend time with her children, reading books with them while they drive to school. “Morning time is sacred time, and it’s reliable time… Evenings are a lot less reliable, so we really try to savor the time we have in the morning,” Power told The Atlantic.
Paradoxically, one of the techniques that can help us be the most focused, grounded, and awake is the least conventionally productive: doing nothing but breathing. “Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had,” says Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater. Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and regular morning meditator, suggests starting off with just 5 minutes daily, to start building the routine into our day.
Writing down the top tasks you want to get done for the day isn’t a newfangled productivity tip – even Benjamin Franklin would write down his goals for the day, as he shared in his 1791 biography. In his well-known morning routine, he suggested to every ask “the morning question, what good shall I do this day?” Setting priorities in the morning helps us keep accountable for them the entire day – especially if you put the list in an easily visible place.
Exercising in the morning pumps the body with endorphins and boosts energy levels throughout the day. The 75-year old dancer, choreographer, and author Twyla Tharp speaks religiously about her morning gym routine: “I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours,” she wrote in The Creative Habit. Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be two hours, but even a short jog or yoga class can be the energizing force that propels you through the day.
Many successful people use the morning to catch up on the news – Bill Gates purportedly reads the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Economist every morning.
8. Starting Early
Most CEOs are early risers – Indra Nooyi, the CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo., wakes up as early as 4 AM, and is always in the office by 7 AM. Although 4 AM may be too early for some of us, the key is setting a realistic wakeup time that we can follow daily. Which, of course, is contingent upon setting a realistic bedtime. And it can be done: from Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, to Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, there are growing number of executives who swear by their 8-hour-per-night sleep schedules.