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New year, new you. Sound familiar? Many of us begin January with grand visions for self-improvement, but we don’t always achieve them.
On any given day, we face thousands of decisions. Decision fatigue can set in quickly, meaning that we are worn out by small choices, before we get to our most important tasks. To maintain your health, happiness and productivity throughout 2021 you need a rock-solid foundation. That means designing daily habits that support your aims, that you can complete with little to no conscious decision-making.
Looking for inspiration? Let’s explore some of the habits that globally successful entrepreneurs use to create and maintain incredible success.
Morning habits matter
How you begin your day has a huge impact on what follows. According to Claire Diaz Ortiz, productivity expert and author of Design Your Day, designing a winning morning routine is the single most powerful action you can do to transform your productivity.
If you win the morning, you win the day. Morning routines [set] up your entire day for positive momentum and fewer distractions.
Said Tim Ferris in a recent podcast episode about his morning rituals.
The first place to start is with your morning alarm.
Wake up early
Successful entrepreneurs know a thing or two about the importance of an early start.
Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 3:45 a.m. Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi are up by 4. Disney CEO Robert Iger’s alarm goes off at 4.30 and Richard Branson wakes up at 5am (no wonder Branson reportedly drinks twenty cups of tea a day!)
But waking up before dawn isn’t for everybody. In fact, it could kill your productivity. One sample of 21 successful people found that they slept, on average, seven hours a night. So if you’re choosing between joining the 5am club and getting enough hours of shut-eye in, opt for more time on the pillow.
Step away from your devices
A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do. When I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful and set my intention for the day.
Says Arianna Huffington.
Make your bed
Make your bed. If you make your bed every morning you'll have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. No matter how catastrophic [your day] might become, you can make your bed. And that gives you the feeling, at least gives me the feeling, even in a disastrous day, that I've held on by a fingernail off the cliff and I haven't fallen.
Says entrepreneur and author Tim Ferris.
It’s hard to find a successful person whose morning routine doesn’t start with some movement.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, starts every day with a 5-mile walk or jog to work. Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz walks his dogs, then goes for a bike ride. Barack Obama opts for weights and cardio, Richard Branson starts his day with tennis, cycling or kitesurfing, while Arianna Huffington begins the day with yoga.
Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, found that most successful people she interviewed began their exercise before 6am.
If you can’t face that early alarm, why not take a leaf out of vlogger turned entrepreneur Michelle Phan’s book? Phan combines her exercise routine with some serious multi-tasking, brushing her teeth while doing squats, and reading her emails while doing push-ups.
In her study of successful people, Vanderkam found that meditation and prayer was a core element of productive professionals’ mornings.
Tim Ferris agrees. He says,
80 percent or so of all over the world class performers across all the disciplines that we've covered [in his podcast] have some type of meditative practice, whether that is in the gym or transcendental meditation.
In his study of what separates successful people from the masses, entrepreneur and author Michael Simmons found that keeping a journal was habit number one. He cites grand chess masters, world-leading investors and inventors in his study of great thinkers who use journaling to refine and reflect upon their learning each day.
Adapt your diet
Intermittent fasting has become a popular health trend in recent years, with everybody from athletes to entrepreneurs crediting the practice with helping them achieve better focus, balanced blood sugar, weight management and more. While reducing your eating to an eight hour window may work well for a lot of people, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pushes the trend to the extreme limit. He reportedly eats just one meal a day.
Entrepreneurs may inspire us with their ideas and innovation, but we might not want to copy their every move. So if waking up before dawn, emailing while brushing your teeth and extreme fasting all sounds like a recipe for a mental breakdown rather than success, don’t panic. To win the day, you just need to find habits that work for you.