According to the National Institute of Health, our brains are at their best right after we wake up – they're squeaky-clean from a good night's rest and are as ready as they'll ever be for the day ahead. Whether or not you consider yourself to be a “morning person”, the fact of the matter is that those who wake up early tend to maintain a successful and healthy lifestyle better than their late-rising counterparts. If you need a kick of productivity in your life, consider setting your alarm clock an hour earlier. Here's some things successful people do before the rest of us are even out of bed.
Wake Up Early
Successful people have been in the game long enough to know that their day is going to be taken up by meetings, phone calls, and conversations with co-workers if they stick to a normal schedule. Instead of working a typical 9-to-5, many successful people get to the office hours before everyone else. This way, they'll have time to perform rudimentary tasks, like checking e-mails, without distraction. If you have clients in a different time zone, consider having a meeting while you eat breakfast. While waking up early might be one of the greatest career challenges you'll face, it'll also be one of the most rewarding.
Make Time for Exercise
While exercise at any hour of the day is a good choice, exercising in the morning comes with a multitude of benefits: pre-breakfast workouts help reduce stress later in the day, counteracts the effects of a high-fat diet, and can help improve sleep quality. You don't have to hit the gym in order to squeeze some exercise into your morning – go for a run around the block, do some yoga on your bedroom floor, or keep some dumbbells and an exercise ball in your living room. The best thing about making time for exercise in the morning? You'll feel accomplished and won't have to worry about it later in the day.
Focus on “Me”
Novel-writing and painting are easy to skip when you've been in and out of meetings all day, so use the extra morning hours to focus on your personal projects before diving headfirst into professional obligations. Use this time to connect with your partner, spend time with your kids, or focus on that book you've been meaning to get around to writing for the past few years. The peace and quiet of the mornings are the perfect time to work on personal passion projects, spend quality time with your family, or spend some time brushing up on current events with a newspaper and cup of hot coffee.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
We've all heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, so if you're currently skipping a healthy breakfast in favor of a sugary coffee from Starbucks, it's time to break the habit. By taking the extra time in the morning to fuel your body with healthy food, you'll be less distracted by your growling stomach and the unhealthy food in the vending machine late in the day. Additionally, you can use the breakfast hour as a time to connect with your significant other and kids – just a few minutes of spending time with them over a bowl of oatmeal can improve your mood, and theirs.
While some time management professionals suggest putting off e-mail as long as possible, many successful people start off their day with e-mail. You can use this time to scan your e-mail inbox for urgent messages that may throw a wrench in your schedule, or draft that lengthy e-mail you've been putting off for a few days. Additionally, if you conduct international business with a virtual office, you can use this time to check in for any important voicemails or emails that may have come in overnight from a different time zone. If an e-mail correspondence requires extra focus, take care of it in the morning when your mind is fresh.