I am not a morning person. The fact that I like to get to work early purely stems from a need to spend 30 minutes checking emails and drinking coffee before I have to deal with my day for real. The time between falling out of bed and arriving at my desk is usually a blur – although I’m certain there is a bus or a train involved at some point.

So, I do wonder whether fixing up my morning routine would have a positive impact on my working day. After all, I’m always reading how Richard Branson likes to exercise and spend time with his family before starting his day or how Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit every day so he has one less decision to make.

What are the most common morning activities of successful people?

I digested a lot of articles on the web to find out if one solution fits all… it doesn’t. Depending on your job, your family situation and your hobbies and interests, your morning routine should be designed to make you happy and energised – but only you can decide what that looks like. [Tweet this]

Take a look at some of the most successful people through time and their morning routines here, including Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain and Anna Wintour. American presidents and famous authors aside, here are the top four morning routines of successful people I’ve found:

1. Exercise and meditation

A common theme I’m seeing as successful individuals’ most important routine (though I’m still in denial), is exercise. If you’re a regular gym-goer, runner or swimmer, try shifting your lunchtime or evening sessions to the morning and see if you notice the effects during your work day. If, like me, you just can’t face the gym at 6am, try something a bit slower paced like yoga and meditation.

At a recent conference my company hosted, we spent the first hour of one of the days meditating as a group. There was an expert there taking us through the steps and, though she made it clear that beginners can often feel drowsier than those who meditate regularly, we came out of the session invigorated and ready for the day ahead. I recommend using the Headspace app – it’s convenient because you can do 10 minute sessions.

2. Healthy breakfast

My mum gave up telling me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day when I was about 14 and only counted waffles or hash browns as an acceptable form of morning food. Now in my late 20s, I can barely function without some sustenance first thing. Your concentration will drastically dip when your energy levels do, so prioritise eating breakfast if you want a productive day.

Need some inspiration? Here are Business Insider’s recommendations for the six best breakfasts to start your day.

3. Family time

If Obama has time to eat breakfast with his daughters, then most of us probably have time to have a conversation with a friend or family member once before work. Feeling like you’re connected is not just great for your own wellbeing but for those in your life too. This Lifehack article tells parents to cuddle their kids every day so they don’t feel like they are missing out on anything.

When I’m getting up in the morning, my family in the UK are going to sleep. This doesn’t stop us messaging/Facetiming/WhatsApp calling to check in with one another every now and then and it always puts me in a great mood when I know what’s going on at home or I’ve seen their lovely faces over Skype. Again – happiness leads to productivity.

4. Checking emails

This one is definitely a love-hate one. I check emails on my phone during my commute, but as mentioned above, because I don’t feel properly awake it’s a waste of time. I end up re-reading everything when I get to work and responding then. Some successful people refuse to look at emails until they’re in the office – Tim Ferriss won’t even check his inbox until 11am.

If you find that you get bogged down with emails throughout your work day, dedicate a time (which is blocked out in your diary) where you read and respond to everything urgent. Flag everything that needs an action and delete everything that requires neither response nor action.

So, here is what I’m going to do:

- Set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier than it’s currently set – hopefully eliminating the need to rush around and only buy clothes that DON’T need ironing because I never have time

- Read my book during my bus journey so I’m not thinking about work

- Get off the bus a few stops early, meaning I spend 10 minutes walking to the office

- Write down tomorrow’s most important tasks at the end of each day so I’m ready to start work at 8.30 on the dot

What will you do? If your morning routine isn’t the problem, maybe your job is. Search for a new one today and get inspired again.

Summary

Here are my suggestions for fixing up your morning routine to be more successful at work:

  • Wake up a bit earlier than usual, even an extra 15 minutes could help
  • Do some exercise, whether it’s walking or cycling to work, a session at the gym, or some yoga – stretch out that sleep!
  • Make a decision on when to check your emails, then stick to that time every day
  • Prepare a healthy breakfast before you go to bed each night, or find somewhere close to your office that serves up something nutritious and delicious – without being too pricey
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