Make Your Mornings Work for You

October 31, 2016, 12:00 AM UTC
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There are people who greet the morning with a smile. Then there are the rest of us.

Despite the fact that being a morning person is largely determined by your genes, society still expects most of us to rise early and get things done.

But mornings can be more than just a necessary evil – according to dozens of CEOs, world leaders, and other impressive individuals, mornings are when the magic happens, dictating how you’ll tackle the rest of the day.

Here are some tips to make it a truly good morning.

Wake Up Earlier Than You Want To

It’s not what you want to hear, but productive and powerful folks tend to wake up really, really early. For many CEOs, the alarm clock is set for 5am, and they don’t hit snooze for the next three hours, either.

Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz has his first cup of coffee at 5:45 am, and he’s already walked his dogs and worked out.

Waking up early gives you a greater chance of getting things done, and it’s not just because you’ve got more time to do it. In the mornings our willpower is the strongest it will be all day.

Work Out. It’s Now or Never.

A good sweat can help you get to sleep at night and easily start your day. Try incorporating exercise into your morning routine. It’s easier to stick to a morning activity than one in the evening, which can easily be pushed aside when you have to work late.

Bonus: Early morning workouts have been shown to be great for maintaining and losing weight, particularly if you don’t eat beforehand.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO, is one of many CEOs who find time for fitness in the morning. Dorsey wakes up at 5 am, meditates for 30 minutes, and follows that with the seven-minute workout, which he does three times (we’re still not sure why he doesn’t just call it a 21-minute workout).

To stick to your morning workout, make an appointment to exercise in your calendar and lay out your gym clothes the night before. Running might be your best option as it requires no equipment and no trip to the gym, or try one of these morning workouts for non-morning people from Greatist.

For more on advice for entrepreneurs, watch this Fortune video:

Don’t Check Your Email

It can be tempting to roll over and check your email first thing in the am, especially if you use your phone as an alarm. But that can distract you from focusing on the big tasks you need to accomplish that day.

Organizing and time management expert Julie Morgenstern even titled one of her books Never Check Email In The Morning. The philosophy here is that you’ll start your morning with undivided focus not bouncing from one email to the next and set the tone for the rest of the day.

David Karp, CEO of Tumblr swears by his no morning email routine.

Find Your Morning Motivation

Steve Jobs famously asked himself one simple question every morning.

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

For a lighter dose of morning motivation, try Shine. Sign up for the company’s short bursts of affirmation in text form every morning, along with fun gifs too.

Another option: the online magazine My Morning Routine interviews entrepreneurs, musicians, health care practitioners and others on how they wake up. And it turns out mornings are hard for most people.

Follow the First-Hour Rule

Rather than an overwhelming to-do list, focus on your most important project for the first hour of the day, writes David Kadavy, the author of Design for Hackers and host of Love Your Work podcast.

Your big project could be for your job or your side-hustle. And ideally, you’ll get this done without the distraction of email and perhaps before you even get into the office.

“When you finish your goal of one hour, you feel good about yourself, and you feel better about that project,” Kadavy wrote in a Medium post. “The work you’ve done carries over into your thoughts throughout the day.”

But he warned, “The First-Hour Rule takes some patience and breathing room.”

Not unlike creating a productive morning routine.

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