9 Productive Morning Routine Hacks of Highly Effective Leaders

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Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 4 a.m., business magnate Richard Branson exercises in the morning, and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos eats a leisurely breakfast with his family. The habits formed by each of these highly influential leaders have played an important role in their pursuit of success – habits that aspiring business professionals can adopt and benefit from.

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How good morning routines can lead to more productive workdays

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Why You Need a Productive Morning Morning Routine

A morning routine provides numerous benefits. In a Forbes interview, author Benjamin Spall said, “When you start your morning with intention, you can bring your morning ‘wins’ with you into the rest of the day.” A Harvard Business Review study also suggests early risers are proactive, likely to anticipate problems and address them efficiently, and likely to experience business success. Additionally, a University of Toronto study states morning people report higher levels of happiness.

9 Tips to Supercharge Your Productivity

Many influential leaders have developed an effective morning routine.

Morning Routines of Influential Leaders

One of the key morning routines is getting up early. Famous leaders like Richard Branson, Tim Cook, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and former Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz rise between 4 a.m and 5 a.m. Other leaders like Lifehacker.com’s founding editor Gina Trapani tackle their most difficult tasks first, before calls and emails begin pouring in and mental and physical energy reserves can be tapped. Drinking a glass of cold water first thing in the morning, like Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington does, can invigorate and help revitalize muscles and organs.

Several successful executives, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg routinely exercise in the morning, an act that can boost cognitive function and reduce feelings of anxiety. Eating a nutritious breakfast like media mogul Oprah Winfrey can support short-term memory and offer a boost in cognitive function, which are essential for productivity. Keeping a morning ritual to avoid “decision fatigue” can save brainpower, which is why Zuckerberg routinely wears the same type of clothing daily.

Another morning routine embraced by leaders is practicing gratitude. Arianna Huffington writes down three things she’s grateful for at the beginning of each day. Similar practices, such as keeping a daily gratitude journal, increases happiness and lowers physical symptoms. It’s also important to read in the morning to improve skills and stay informed, which is something business tycoon Warren Buffett does daily. Finally, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson routinely eat breakfast with their family. Spending time with loved ones in the morning can help boost happiness.

How to Craft Your Own Morning Ritual

The morning routine hacks of highly successful leaders can serve as inspiration. Next, consider the elements that will work for you, so that a good morning routine that aligns with your personality and goals can be established.

Tips for Building Your Morning Ritual

One thing you can do to help build your morning ritual is to consider your intentions or goals, such as productivity, improved health, or increased happiness. From there, you can create a “not to do” list of distracting morning activities to avoid, such as reading or answering emails or checking social media. Next, it’s important to establish barriers to help reinforce your routine, such as keeping your phone across the room to limit access or setting your phone to “do not disturb” to avoid being interrupted by notifications.

It’s also a good idea to put off your first cup of coffee until later in the morning. Because cortisol levels are high during the first couple of hours after waking up, the hormone can interfere with caffeine’s energizing effect. Putting off the coffee until later allows cortisol levels to drop to normal, which is a better way to get a more effective caffeine boost.

Additionally, it’s wise to start your morning physically alert by exposing yourself to sunlight – about 15 minutes of direct sunlight chases away grogginess. It’s also important to keep your morning routine elements brief by doing shorter workouts and breaking down writing tasks into smaller chunks. Finally, it’s critical to stick to your new routine for a reasonable amount of time before you evaluate it, as new habits take time to feel natural and show results.

Find a Great Way to Start Your Day

Inspired by the morning routines of highly effective leaders? Create a personalized morning routine of your own. Give yourself time to try it out, experiment with it, and tailor it to your unique personality and goals. Once you’ve established your routine, greater focus, productivity and happiness will soon follow.


American Council on Exercise, Your Brain on Exercise: The Neuroscience Behind a Good Workout
CNBC, How Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey Use Gratitude as a Strategy for Success
Entrepreneur, 14 of the Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven to Boost Productivity
Forbes, What You Can Learn From the Morning Routines of Super Productive People
Inc., Research Says Blowing Off This Simple Daily Habit Will Absolutely Kill Your Productivity
Inc., The Scientific Reason Why Being a Morning Person Will Make You More Successful
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Association of Skipping Breakfast With Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life
Livestrong, How Does Exercise Improve Work Productivity?
Science of People, Prefect Your Morning Routine With 10 Research Backed Steps