How has your morning routine changed since you became your own boss? If you are starting your day the same way you did when you worked in an office, you might be doing yourself a disservice. That's because how you work now is going to be very different from how you worked for someone else. Your productivity and motivation is entirely dependent on you. Your morning routine sets the tone for the rest of your workday. As an entrepreneur, it's up to you to develop a routine that helps you focus on, prioritize, and achieve your goals.
That doesn't mean you need to do a complete morning routine overhaul, though. Here are five simple tweaks you should consider making to your morning routine to set yourself up for entrepreneurial success:
Wake Up Earlier
If you thought that being an entrepreneur meant that your days of early mornings were over, think again. In an article published in The New York Times, Benjamin Spall said that of the 300 successful people he interviewed, the majority of them are early risers. He writes, "The average wake-up time for everyone I've talked to is 6:27 a.m."
If you find yourself waking up at 8 a.m. or later, consider experimenting with a change to your alarm. Even waking up a half hour earlier may give you a boost to your productivity. Spall writes in his article that you may need to experiment with your wake up time to find the "sweet spot," but that's probably earlier than you think.
Once you find that sweet spot, stick to the new routine. One study published by the National Institutes of Health found that irregular sleep patterns led to worse academic performance for college students. A similar study also found that poor performers often had later wake-up times. The lesson here? Wake up early and stick to a sleep schedule. You might not be in college anymore, but your sleep patterns still affect your performance.
Exercise Early and Often
A lot of office workers choose to hit the gym at the end of their workday. It may help them burn off some of that office stress. But if you are an entrepreneur, consider changing your workout time to first thing in the morning. An Appalachian State University research project looked at the effects of doing a moderate 30-minute exercise at various points in the day. Those who exercised at 7 a.m. experienced greater benefits than those who worked out at midday or in the evening.
The benefits weren't just better in the morning, though. Researchers note that "those who exercised at 7 a.m. experienced about a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure that carried through the remainder of the day. They also had about a 25 percent dip in blood pressure at night, slept longer and had more beneficial sleep cycles than when they exercised at other times of the day."
So changing your exercise routine could help you reduce your blood pressure and get more sleep at night. Those are both great benefits for the busy entrepreneur.
Journal Your Priorities
You are likely used to making a to-do list, even if it's just a mental one. But research suggests that writing that list down as a part of a journal could help you be more productive during the day. The University of Rochester Medical Center writes that journaling can reduce your stress and help you prioritize problems. They also suggest it doesn't really matter what you write in your journal, as long as it works for you.
Some entrepreneurs use their journals to think through their goals, contemplate their priorities, or keep trackable to-do lists. An article in Forbes notes that's a method used by Gary Keller, founder of the Keller Williams real estate company. He writes a single to-do item down and makes that his focus for the day.
Increase Your Meditation Time
It's tempting to hit that snooze button, especially when you don't have a boss watching the clock. But ditching the snooze button for meditation time can increase your focus and productivity during your workday. In a 2014 research paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins researchers found that meditation can reduce stress and ease many stress-related issues. Those include a lack of sleep, poor attention, and negative attitudes.
Meditation isn't as complicated as you might think, either. You can simply sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Then, clear your mind of thoughts of the past or worries about the future. If you have trouble focusing, there are several free apps that you can download. These will take you through a guided meditation practice until you get the hang of it on your own. Start with even five minutes each morning and work your way up to 20 minutes each day. It's a great way to clear your brain and start the day with some self-care.
Drink Your Coffee Later
Millions of us enjoy starting our mornings with a cup of coffee. The caffeine helps wake you up and get you ready for the long day ahead, right? Well, maybe not. In an article published by Fast Company, author Steven Miller writes that most of us are drinking our morning coffee when our bodies are naturally reaching their most alert state.
That's because your body's cortisol levels are reaching their peak between 8-9 a.m. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for your alertness. So drinking your coffee at the same time might be a waste of perfectly good caffeine. According to Miller, "[Y]our coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike."
What Will Your Morning Look Like as an Entrepreneur?
Each day is a new opportunity for success. When you wake up alert and motivated, you are setting yourself up to achieve that success. Entrepreneurs need all the energy, motivation, and focus that they can get. Something as simple as a small tweak to your morning routine could be the boost that you need. Try one or two (or all five!) of these small changes and see what kind of big impact they can make on your day.
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