I mean it. Have a good start to your day and you’ll greatly enhance your chances of having a successful day, every day. The discipline of an early bird will manifest itself in many ways, or as Benjamin Franklin put it way back in the 1700’s, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
The saying is just as true today as it was then and many of the most accomplished people on the planet have been shown to be early risers. But it’s not just a matter of getting up early that counts; what really counts is what you do with that extra time while the world at large is still slumbering. (Note: getting up early shouldn’t come at the expense of getting enough sleep).
Knowing how to leverage your time before breakfast will undoubtedly have a positive and productive outcome. So, here are six habits that those successful early risers employ.
Make a Fresh Start. This is actually something you should do way before breakfast—in fact, it’s best to do it the night before. Remove the clutter of yesterday both mentally and physically. Clean up your ‘to do’ list. Erase from the list the tasks you have accomplished and start a new list for the new day. Take a look at your desk before you leave the office (even if your office is at home). If papers and files are scattered haphazardly all over it, is that what you want to greet you at the start the day? Not a welcoming sight and not one likely to make you feel enthusiastic about any project. So clean that up, too.
Get Physical. Working out first thing in the morning will give you a burst of energy that lasts for hours. It’s a habit you should try hard to acquire and you can choose what works for you—a brisk walk or jog; hitting the gym; whatever. People who exercise regularly experience a positive boost in mood and are generally better off when dealing with tough decisions life throws at you. That’s because when you exercise your body releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins that lead to a positive and energizing outlook on life. A byproduct of regular physical activity is improved self-esteem.
Take Time to Think. This might be the only quiet time of the day, your only chance to be alone and able to seriously reflect on everything that’s happening in your life. It’s your opportunity before the hurly-burly of the “work day” to let your mind wander and do some big picture thinking. You’ll be surprised how establishing quiet time like this to review where your business or career is heading can spark all kinds of breakthroughs.
Focus on Today. Plan your day ahead. Visualize the success you are going to enjoy. But first shake off any hangover from the day before. Don’t carry forward any stresses or aggravations. Wipe the slate clean and make a new beginning. If you need to take corrective action of any kind make sure that you do so with the right attitude for a new day. That might mean making a tough decision, setting the record straight with someone or maybe apologizing to someone. Whatever it is, get it out of the way.
Wake up Slowly. During sleep your brain is extraordinarily active filtering and processing the events of the day before. But when you’re waking fresh in the morning and still half asleep your mind—in this relaxed state—can often deliver creative solutions. Try it and see. With a little practice who knows what you will come up with? Sometimes, our dreams are where we store our best ideas.
Earlier is better. Whatever your current schedule try to get up even earlier. Even if it’s just 15 minutes. And spend that time wisely. Put into effect any of the tips provided above. If you can make it 30 minutes earlier, so much the better. You can’t buy time but you can give yourself a gift of time. Time is precious, so make the most of it. Waking up, jumping in and out of the shower, grabbing a coffee and rushing out the door sets the wrong tone for the day.
Energy is everything. Start with positivity, and that will set the stage for the rest of your day – no matter what problems are thrown at you.