Experts have long said that morning habits and routines are a pathway to achieving peak performance. If you study the great leaders of our time and those of before, a solid morning routine stands out as a common dominator. However, as of late the morning routine has been under attack from all forms of distractions and other things wanting to steal your limited time but more importantly your focus.
The following are 8 morning habits for leaders to achieve peak performance by incorporating into their morning.
Morning Habit 1 – Avoiding the Phone
You get out of bed, head to the toilet, then what do you realize? You’ve been there for 10 minutes already and are scrolling through the overnight emails and messages, morning news clips, or heck just silly reels of a couple who love to prank each other. A study in the Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics Journal stated that by grabbing your phone first thing in the morning, your body skips two stages of the awakening process. Therefore, your brain at once goes into reactive mode while skipping the visualization mode which lets us be proactive.
So how to stop grabbing your phone first thing in the morning? Leave it elsewhere in your home and not by your bed. By the time you get to it you will have the willpower to avoid it for the rest of the morning until you are ready to respond to the emails and messages it contents. Use it as an alarm clock? Use your watch, or simply buy a new simple alarm clock.
Morning Habit 2 – Exercise
We all know that exercise is important to overall health and fitness. However, as a leader trying to achieve peak performance it has so many benefits. In particular is the importance of being focused to achieve tasks and give direction to your subordinates. A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning exercise improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making. These benefits should be making you to want to jump up and start exercising right now!
This leadership coach is up everyday at 5 a.m. working out with a program for an hour. Do you need to go to that extreme? No, as fitness coach and trainer Chris Gooden says “a simple 30 minute walk could easily provide you with the same benefits of a full workout.”
Morning Habit 3 – Read
The statement that leaders are readers has been said so many times that it should be etched into stone. But the reality is that many high-performing CEOs and leaders read consistently and constantly. Many up to 52 books per year. A significant benefit of reading in the morning is that you start your day on fire. Usually, when I read a business or self-help book in the morning, I feel motivated to go out and crush it that day.
If you don’t read actively now, try to couple it with another habit you already have. For example, if you spend 15-20 minutes with a cup of coffee on the couch in the morning, then place a book next to your seat and read your book while sipping on that java.
Morning Habit 4 – Eat a Healthy Breakfast
We’ve heard it since we were children, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Yet millions of adults continue to skip said meal and rush out of the door to get moving on their day. As Lisa Hill stated “Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus on work or at school. Those are just a few reasons why it’s the most important meal of the day.” As a leader trying to achieve peak performance, how can you not eat breakfast?!
Find it hard to eat a breakfast with everything else you must do in the morning? Pre-plan your meals the night before. Having the foods ready for a quick protein shake is a great meal to kick off your day with minimal effort.
Morning Habit 5 – Journal
Journaling in the morning sets the tone for your day. Taking the time to be intentional by slowing down and reflecting can help you feel more control and ease even when you have a lot on your plate. A study by Michigan State University showed that journaling in the morning can help leaders perform more efficiently. This is because one of the many benefits of journaling is that it helps you process your emotions. Getting everything out of your head and onto paper gives you perspective. When you can see the big picture, you’re less likely to act from fear and insecurity and more likely to be led by your values.
Morning Habit 6 – Plan Your Day
In order to plan your day well, you must first set a destination. This means you need to know what you want to do. When you start your day, you should make sure to focus on completing three important things. Don’t try to do too many things at once, or else you’ll never finish anything. Prioritization is critical for us as leaders. A study at the University of Illinois uncovered that simply planning your day has a significant improvement of your daily time management than those who did not plan their day.
Find it difficult to plan your day? Incorporate it with your journaling as mentioned above. Or ensure to block off 15 minutes each day at the beginning for just that activity. Read no email, listen to no phone messages. Simply take the time to prioritize what you want to achieve for the day.
Morning Habit 7 – Practice Gratitude
As leaders we are constantly sucked into “others’” problems. In fact, we feel like they are our problems. This can have a negative impact on our mindset which takes us away from peak performance. A simple solution for this problem is to practice gratitude. Gratitude can help us overcome negativity and bad feelings. Focus on what you’re thankful for, which includes everything from your health to your family to your friends. You’ll feel better equipped to handle any challenges that come your way.
Morning Habit 8 – Make Your Bed
This habit may bring back memories of your childhood and your mother or father getting angry with you for not making your bed. However, based on the famous speech by Admiral William McRaven. Making your sets you up for success. Making bed every day becomes a keystone habit that kick starts other good decisions throughout the day and gives you a sense of taking charge. Then finally, when your day is done, regardless of how well or poorly your day went, you return to the first good decision you made.
No doubt you’ve gone through this list and said, “that’s a lot!” and “I don’t have time for all this.” That is and may be true. However, it’s not necessary to do them all everyday. In fact, I don’t do every single one of these habits, as I indicated above, I just can’t seem to get into journaling. However, what this article was meant to do was give you an idea of what you should and could be doing to set yourself up for peak performance through your day. Experiment. See what works. What doesn’t. Then you will know how to setup your morning routine to get the best “bang for the buck.”
Good luck leader! In today’s world you need it. Remember as always #LeadDontBoss.
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