by Emma Rosser of Publicize
An effective morning ritual can kick-start a productive day. Many entrepreneurs start their day with a morning run, personal meditation or writing in their journals. Silicon Valley guru, Tim Ferris claims that small tasks like this, provide a feeling of control and organization, this could even be accomplished by making your bed. This concept is incredibly pertinent in the uncertain and chaotic startup world.
Achieving these small goals can set you up for a positive day, making you less susceptible to distractions. Almost all high-achievers have a morning routine.
Many entrepreneurs claim they do not touch email, some chose to work from home, powering through their priority list. Others opt for team meetings, and motivational goal setting. We are more productive, and less distracted during the 9am-12pm work time – it is important to use this time to your advantage. As they say, “If you win the morning, you win the day.”
This article explores the best pieces of advice from successful startup founders – each sharing their most effective morning rituals for a productive day.
1. The great email debate.
Some say it is better to just stay away – others like to check-in, just in case there are urgent actions. The urge to keep checking your email can be powerful and managing your email account can sometimes feel a full-time job in itself. The distraction of a yet another quick peep, can be tempting, but it can also be productivity killer. How can entrepreneurs find that delicate balance? Time your email checks, and don’t get bogged down.
“I work on the West Coast, but most of my team is on the East Coast. The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is check my emails to make sure there is nothing requiring immediate attention. From there, I like to take time to carve out the first part of the morning with rituals that center, balance and inspire me. I start most mornings with hot lemon water and like to do a self-created yoga flow that takes 15 minutes. Every morning, I take a short stroll with my partner, who is also an entrepreneur. We stop for a latte at our favorite coffee shop and bounce ideas off one another, sharing insights for the day.” – Christine Martin, Decorilla
2. Physical exercise – for the mind and body.
Starbucks President Michelle Gaas goes for a run every day at 4.30am. She has done this for the last fifteen years. This might sound extreme, but for Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, that would be a lie-in. Cook rises at 3.45am each day, starts sending email at 4.30 and can be found in the gym by 5am.
The early bird, does indeed catch the worm, it would appear. Aside from the well-known health benefits, physical exercise can reduce stress, improve happiness, confidence and even prevent cognitive decline. Many claim that as little as just seven minutes of intense exercise is enough to give you these benefits.
“I like to start my day by doing some physical exercise and meditating. My ideal morning involves either surfing or going to yoga and then meditating, or practicing gratitude for 10 minutes. If I manage to do this, which isn’t always, I’m much calmer throughout the day and far more productive. I try to attack an important task on my list that requires creative flow.
I do my best work in the morning and I want to take advantage of my mental clarity before emails and petty tasks start to crowd my mental space. So I try to get up early, around 6:30am, and get a workout and some important work done before the distractions begin.” – Cameron McLain, Beehive
3. Write it down – personal journals and goals make you wiser.
Dedicating a portion of your time every morning to writing also strengthens the mind. Tools such as the 5 Minute Journal, at the start and end of each day, have been shown to help shift the focus to the positive aspects of a person’s life, motivating people to achieve more. Consistency is good, but it doesn’t need to be this rigid. The act of putting pen to paper has been shown to make an individual “more productive, more emotionally aware, and a less irrational decision maker.” This behavior lets people express and understand themselves, declutter their mind, and actually become wiser.
“I work out outside most mornings, whether it’s cycling, kettlebells or running. The Bay Area offers up some amazing sunrises and there is no better way to start your day. I’m also a big fan of the 5 Minute Journal, which is truly a game changer. The simple format makes it easy to pause and ponder both what you are grateful for and what you can do better each day.” – Lauren Pufpaf, Feed.fm
Those who write down their goals are reportedly more likely to achieve them. There is also the satisfaction of crossing off your to-do list, acknowledging your achievements, and moving on to the next time-bound task.
4. A 30 minute ritual.
Back to Tim Ferris’ original morning ritual theory – remember that most of these things should be achieved within 30-60 minutes. Ferris claims these five rituals; make your bed, meditate, hang (or decompress), tea and journal. Sometimes life intervenes – and not all are possible, but adding a few healthy additions to your morning schedule will set you up for a productive day.
“Many people have trouble with their habits because they don’t follow a morning routine system. It’s easy to forget about these activities when your day is full of dozens of tasks and personal obligations, but it is important and can give you the motivation and energy for a more productive and happier day.
The trick here is knowing which habits to include in your morning rituals. Here are a few of my life hacks – start off with prayer or meditation, let natural light in, exercise for example using the 7-minute workout, have a glass of cold water and lemon, and spend time focusing and articulating your goals. Think about what you would like to accomplish for that day or week. And then go out and do it.” – Javed Hussain, Alif Baa
Morning routines can help to clear your mind, when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Don’t just snooze the alarm, or claw your way to the nearest caffeine stimulus. Whether you are a morning person or not these good habits can set the foundations for a productive day.
Emma Rosser resides in Medellin, Colombia, and splits her time covering current affairs in the country with leading publication Colombia Reports and exploring trends in the tech start-up space with Publicize, a startup aiming to change the way companies approach PR. Publicize has worked with a dozen+ Y Combinator startups and leading brands such as Hallmark Cards.