There are few things more delicious than sleeping in, burrowing deeper into a heap of clean sheets and having breakfast brought in on a tray. Reality probably strikes closer to groggy protests and the inevitable panic when you realize you’ve hit the snooze button a few too many times. In either situation—whether you’re lounging in luxury or running for the dry shampoo in lieu of a shower—people far more successful have already been up for hours. Have early risers caught on to something, or is the relationship between an early start time and success just coincidence? This is what the world’s most successful people—CEOs, self-made millionaires, industry tycoons, and world leaders—are doing while you’re still snoozing.
They’re staying fit
While it’s easy to want to exercise, the follow-through is much more problematic, especially when hectic schedules and innumerable life hiccups get in the way. It makes sense that those most successful get in their workouts in the morning before energy levels and willpower wane. President Obama starts every day with a workout at 6:45 a.m., by which time Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue, has already played tennis for an hour. Former Pepsi CEO Steve Reinemund wakes at 5:00 a.m. daily to run four miles, and Condoleezza Rice sets her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to fit in a sweat session. In this Yahoo! Finance study, more than 70 percent of executives exercise in the morning, and as such, benefit from revved up metabolisms, increased energy, better moods, lower stress levels, and higher productivity. A consistent morning exercise plan also brings that sense of control and empowerment so often exhibited by the world’s most powerful.
They’re staying current
According to CNBC, Warren Buffet’s morning reading includes the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Omaha World-Herald, and the American Banker. Bill Gates takes in the national news and various economic and business publications. Others add checking social media feeds to their morning news routines. Whatever the medium, leaders are making sure they are up-to-date on the world before going out into it.
They’re staying sharp
Icons of success use mornings to get a head start on important projects, before the slew of daily distractions, meetings, and interruptions compete for attention. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, is known to send out the day’s important emails at 4:30 a.m. Pre-dawn hours may be the best to tackle difficult projects as not only are you freshly recharged but you’re also primed for creative problem-solving directly after REM sleep. The peak energy levels you experience throughout the day are determined by your personal circadian rhythms, but that’s not to say that night owls should write off their mornings as unproductive. According to this article, your creative potential is actually at its best when you aren’t, so if you’re typically alert at night, you’re most likely to experience problem-solving breakthroughs in the early hours of dawn.
Successful people also take time in the early hours to cultivate mental health through meditation. The billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund said in this interview that he attributes his success to early meditation. Bill Ford of the Ford Motor Company built meditation into his morning routine when he realized he needed a way to bring positivity to the workplace during difficult economic times. If in doubt, ask Oprah; she swears by at least 20 minutes of quiet to set the tone for a successful work day.
They’re staying personal
Demanding family schedules make it more and more difficult to organize evening meals. TV writer Nell Scovell found that her career responsibilities often ate into dinner hours, so she changed her family’s main meal to breakfast instead. Sharing your morning time with loved ones also creates a positive mental space to carry throughout the day. Morning family time for successful figures isn’t just about kids; morning sex triggers a boost from happy hormones that keep moods elevated and stress levels down as the day goes on.
The morning routines of the world’s leaders are absolutely achievable. While that snooze button may be tempting, rejecting excuses and adopting a few habits of the successful can only bring greater physical, mental, and spiritual health to your life. Take it from morning lark Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Set your coffee machine on a timer, unroll the yoga mat, and give up your bed a little earlier for some well-deserved self-improvement.
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