The first few hours of each morning are some of the most important hours the day has to offer.
It is these hours that will set the tone for the rest of the day, which might be why some of the world’s most accomplished men and women tout their morning routine as being key to their success.
Given this peculiar tone-setting phenomenon, here are the six things I do every morning to energize my body, stimulate my mind, and get me through the day:
1. Wake up 2 to 3 hours before your first meeting
Rolling out of bed and heading straight out is not a healthy habit. It can leave you feeling tired and mentally fuzzy by the time you arrive at your destination. On top of this, it doesn’t leave you any time for other valuable morning routines.
Instead of setting your alarm so that you have just enough time to throw on your clothes and head out the door, allow yourself two to three hours of time.
Do this and you’ll feel less rushed, have more time to get other things done, and will be fully awake and ready to go by the time you arrive where you need to be.
2. Invest 30-60 minutes in motivational reading
I start each morning with 30-60 minutes of reading material that is either motivational, inspirational, educational, or some combination of all three. I want the first thing that enters my mind each morning to be positive and enriching – such as these inspirational quotes – and I find that it really helps set me on the right mental course for the rest of the day.
Meditation is another great practice for getting your mind ready for the day, which I occasionally practice in between reading and exercise. Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, encourages his students to ready their minds prior to meditating by first enjoying a few pages from a light-hearted book.
I agree with the logic and often suggest my students try adding Jack’s simple 4-step meditation process to their optimized morning routines – in between reading and exercising.
Regardless, before you turn on the TV, before you read the newspaper even (nine times out of ten it’s just bad news), choose some reading material that will uplift and/or educate you. What this might be is entirely up to you, but starting your day with some reading material that fits this description is an excellent way to begin the morning in a positive frame of mind.
3. Get in motion with exercise and stretches
After I’m done reading each morning, I always dedicate a period of time to exercising and stretching. Studies have shown that the morning hours are the best time to exercise. Not only is it more beneficial to exercise in the morning, people who commit to exercising in the morning are also more likely to actually follow through and complete their exercises each day than those who put it off until later in the afternoon.
As for the benefits of exercise, they’re two-fold. The physical benefits are obvious – better physique, improved stamina, and, quite possibly, a longer life. Likewise, stretching each day can help keep your joints and muscles limber even as you age.
However, the mental benefits of exercise and stretching are compelling as well. Exercise has been shown to have a wide number of mental benefits, from improving mood to increasing energy. I personally believe physical activity is essential in maintaining a positive thinking lifestyle.
If you choose to exercise each morning, you can take these mental benefits with you throughout the day.
4. Write out your goals as if you’ve achieved them
Writing out your goals on a piece of paper is a common piece of advice. However, I approach it a little differently. Rather than writing out your goals in the future tense, I advocate writing them out in the present tense.
For example, instead of saying, “I want to earn $100,000 a year” or “I want to weigh 165 pounds” you would write out “I earn $100,000 a year” and “I weigh 165 pounds”. Write them out each day this way, and don’t refer back to yesterday’s list in order to make your new one each morning.
Why would you want to write out your goals in this manner?
Well, most importantly, doing this turns your biggest goals into positive mantras that you can use as motivation to spur you on. Believing you can accomplish something is the first step to accomplishing it. If you write your goals out in the present tense as if you’ve already achieved them, believing that you actually can becomes much easier.
5. Write out your list of daily tasks
Writing out a to-do list is a classic time management tip that is highly common among successful people. To-do lists are beneficial for a number of reasons, the most simple of which being that they remind you about the tasks that you have to do.
More importantly, though, to-do lists can actually motivate you to get those tasks done. They serve as a physical embodiment of the tasks that you have to do for that day, giving your tasks a sort of tangible existence that makes them seem more real and important.
To-do lists also serve as a means of goal-setting. Once you’ve written down your tasks on a to-do list, you’ll feel more compelled to actually get them done.
Before you start your work for the day, make a list of all the tasks you need to get done that day and scratch each task out as you finish it. You’ll be surprised what an effective cure for procrastination this simple technique really is.
6. Develop a sense of urgency
The final thing I do each morning before I set about my day is spend a few minutes developing a sense of urgency. Indeed, one of the most effective mindsets that you can have is one of urgency.
Do things fast, and do them now.
Tackle each task with speed and efficiency, and move from one task to another as quickly as you can.
There’s simply no point in dragging your feet. It doesn’t make the tasks you have to do any easier or more enjoyable; it just makes them longer.
The faster you move, the more you will be able to get done each day. Just as importantly, the faster you move the better you will feel about the work you are doing, which will, in turn, motivate you to go even faster and do even better. All of this starts, though, with developing a sense of urgency.
Start each morning with the mindset that you’re on a timer. It may not sound enjoyable at first, but it will certainly pay off in the end.
The world’s most successful people don’t sleep in.
Likewise, they don’t roll out of bed and head straight to work with no other kind of routine or activities in-between. The morning hours are an immensely valuable part of the day, and successful people know how to take advantage of them.
Granted, my personal morning routine is just one of many. However, it works for me, and I’ve seen it work for plenty of others as well. If you are looking for a fresh new way to make the most of the day’s most important hours, I invite you to give it a try!
Guest Author: Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. His goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined.
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