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Look at any of the most successful people in the world and you’ll find that the one common denominator is how much they stick to their morning routines. Many consider this to be the foundation for a successful and productive day, saying it helps them stay focused in their personal or professional lives, or both.

If your idea of a morning routine is hitting snooze five times and then checking your phone until you are eventually ready to roll out of bed, only to realize you’re running late and don’t even have time to grab a granola bar, then you may want to recalibrate what your mornings look like. It can be difficult to get out of that cycle, but once you do, you’ll never look back.

The key to success

This may sound crazy, but you can accomplish a lot before your fourth cup of coffee at the office. A big part of establishing a routine for yourself is having that set structure you follow every day—for some, this even includes weekends. You may have heard of a little something called “the 4 a.m. club”, and while this sounds more like a bar than a wake-up call for the Mark Wahlberg’s of the world, that’s exactly what it is. Wahlberg has been said to wake up at, yes, 4 a.m. every day to work out. Maybe you’re reading this in the middle of the afternoon and are thinking to yourself, that doesn’t sound too bad, but hearing your alarm go off at 3:45 in the morning is a different story. But, there’s a certain beauty behind the madness.

Starting your morning early enough to get a workout in, read a couple chapters, and make a well-rounded breakfast (or whatever a solid morning looks like to you) can do wonders for your health, and set you up to have a great day. Pressing snooze and barely having time to brush your teeth before you run out the door does nothing to inhibit a successful day. And this doesn’t have to be as extreme as a 4 a.m. wake-up call. If you usually wake up at 6:30, try waking up an hour earlier. The same goes for what time you normally get up. This beckons the question, what exactly do you do with that extra time?

Up and at em’

Working out is one of the most obvious answers to what to do in the morning, and for good reason. Exercising can boost your energy levels and get you in the right mindset for whatever the day ahead holds. And that’s just it: you don’t know what it holds. So, whether you go on to have an amazing, productive day, or one that borders on mediocre, at least you squeezed a workout in and started off on the right foot. Some things are out of your control, but how you start your day is in your hands. Plus, working out early in the a.m. can help offset the eight plus hours of sitting you’re doing if you work in the corporate world.

Fitness is all well and good, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea first thing in the morning. Personally, I prefer hitting the gym after work—it helps me sleep better and ends my day, whether it was good or bad, on a high note. If fitness at night is more your speed as well, then consider all the other things you can fill your morning with. One thing I’ve taken to doing, or rather, not doing, is checking my phone first thing. There’s always the reasoning, “it helps me wake up”, but think of all the other things that can help you wake up that don’t include scrolling through social media. Listening to a podcast, reading a book, journaling, meditating, or stretching can help relax you and get you in a better mindset. At first, it can seem like you’re giving up something (sleep) to do things that, technically, could be done later. But think of it as an investment in your mental well-being. If you ever feel yourself going scatterbrained throughout the workday, incorporating things like practicing meditation or listening to a motivational podcast could help stabilize you.

Getting started

 

Putting these ideas into practice will take discipline above all else. You need to commit to waking up at an earlier time and pledging to better yourself. Choose activities and practices that align with your values because that way, there’s a higher chance of sticking to a routine. And, if you’re not sure what works for you, try a variety of healthy practices—over time, this will turn into a fundamental part of your day that helped turn you into the best version of yourself.