The adage “the early bird catches the worm”, holds true for leaders and entrepreneurs. Most successful leaders across the world like Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, and many others use their time well, and their winning habits help them to have an edge over others.
We reached out to successful entrepreneurs to ask them their top three morning habits that make them successful. Here is what we discovered:
Samara says, “I truly believe the way you start your day makes a huge impact on how the rest of it pans out. Hence, I use my mornings as my armour to prep for what is to come. When you’re running a business, you need 110 percent attention and efficiency every day, all day and invariably the mornings influence that percentage to a great extent.”
1) Me time - As soon as I wake up, I take about 30 minutes to just focus on myself. I soak into my couch, sip on a hot cup of coffee and just spend time with myself. During this time I either write in my journal, listen to music or just absorb all the thoughts and feelings I have for that morning. I have found this to be the most cathartic and relaxing process, almost like meditation. It helps me reflect on the previous day and the tasks ahead as well as grounds me in what is important and the things I’m grateful for.
2) Run - Another 45 minutes is spent on exercise. It keeps me physically and mentally strong as well as focused. I find myself having much more energy during the day when I have been consistent with my runs every morning.
3)To-do list - I have realised that the key to productivity is to plan and segregate your day with tasks. I list the priorities and essentials for the day along with specified timings. This keeps me aligned with accomplishing the necessary priorities for the day and sticking to timelines.
1) Research. I wake up between 4 - 5am every day, so I use the quiet time to research what is happening with other peer brands across the world, and read up on reports, etc. to get more perspective.
2) Walk - I walk for 5 km. The walk helps clear the mind, plan the day and fix the day’s agenda.
3) Coffee, coffee, coffee- I can’t start the morning without one, and need two more before 12 noon to stay alert, as I wake up very early.
Walk my dog: the reason I wake up before the sun does is for my four legged boy and it's my cannot-snooze-due-to-guilt alarm. It's what starts my day early and though I always yearn for that extra hour, I'm grateful that I start my day early before the country awakes.
Coffee: because how does one even start without caffeine!
Emails: I start my day with my least favourite activity, checking my emails and replying to them all in one go so that once the band-aid is pulled, the rest of the day seems good to go.
Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical
1) Meditation - Start the morning with 15 to 20 minutes of breathing and meditation to centre the mind and clear it. This makes it easier to set priorities for the day with a clear mind
2) Workout - Regular workout: Yoga or walk/jog, energises and sets me up physically to face the day.
3) Plan-Put together the day’s plan and priorities and be clear what needs focus.
ElsaMarie D'silva, Founder & CEO, Safecity
1) Prayer - When I wake up, I centre myself by saying a prayer to help me carry out my tasks for the day to the best of my ability, make the right decisions and be kind to others. I am quite spiritual and giving thanks and being grateful is part of my daily routine.
2) Planning - I also review my calendar and prepare mentally for the tasks and events. I am quite organised and everything is plotted on my calendar. If it is not on my calendar, it does not become a priority. Even my gym time and social events are on my calendar.
3) Eat the Frog - I make sure I tackle the most pressing and difficult problem first. It obviously gets slotted into my calendar and once it is done, everything else is a breeze. If I don't do this, then my mind runs around in circles and wastes time.
Also depending on the time difference, FaceTiming my family, especially my little nieces helps me focus for the rest of the day.
1) Everyday motivation - Daily walk in the jungle next to my house for an hour with Co-founder and husband Tuhin Paul. On the way back, we stop to buy fruit and veggies. This is the time we discuss the company, vision and future plans and/or talk about our personal lives. The open air provides a great environment for discussion. It also helps us to plan our day. On Sundays, we plan our entire week but every day in the morning we chalk out the plan.
2) As a new mother, when I pump milk for my baby I use the time to watch motivational videos by Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra, Jack Ma, Sherly Sandberg and other entrepreneurs and leaders and find out how they tackle challenges and what are their personal stories. I also watch a lot focused videos on tips on finance, marketings, investment into education etc.
3) Everyday writing what I want to accomplish each day. So I write it down what my personal and professional To Do list is. My every day is well planned and planned to the hour and mostly I manage to see it through and on time.
The other thing I would like to add is that paying attention to the meals is also important. From fresh fruits, to freshly prepared food, we ensure we begin the day with a good breakfast to be super charged through the day.
Lizzie Chapman, Co-founder and CEO, ZestMoney
1) Exercise - I do some form of exercise. I find that the day goes badly if I don't do this. Even if I don't have time to run or work out with my trainer, I will do 10 minutes of yoga. Even if I am really really stretched I will do a plank for a few minutes to focus.
2) Family time - Play with my son - he wakes me up at 6 am most mornings and I try to spend at least 30 minutes reading with him or observing the birds on the balcony.
3) Gratitude. It is something my friend Rajini taught me to do years back and even if I don't manage every single day, I do it at least a few times a week. I take five minutes to write an email to myself with all the things I am grateful for - even just a nice cup of coffee and an Uber driver who doesn't try to kill me with his driving.
So while you smell the coffee, don't forget to plan your day well in advance. You need to prioritise what matters the most and throw in that exercise and meditation, for it will keep you going.
Tell us what you do you do when you wake up? What are the habits that contribute to your success?