Entrepreneurs are a unique breed of people. We like to do things our way and are known for our almost obsessive attraction to habits. But, there’s a good reason for that. Habits help us achieve our goals, keep us motivated, eliminates wasted time, and improve our lives altogether.
Arguably, the most important habit for an entrepreneur is their morning routine. After all, if you start your day off on the wrong foot, how productive, motivated, and focused are you going to be for the rest of the day?
To make sure that you start your day off on the right foot, here are seven things that every entrepreneur should before 7 a.m.
1. They’re wide awake.
Successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson are known for waking up bright and early.
"I have always been an early riser. Like keeping a positive outlook, or keeping fit, waking up early is a habit, which you must work on to maintain. Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life," explains the Virgin Group founder.
When you’re awake before 7 a.m. you have the time to check the news, gather your thoughts, or exercise. This prevents you from rushing out the door every morning feeling frazzled and unfocused.
Waking up early means that you have to stop hitting the snooze button by getting enough sleep each night - preferably between 7 and 9 hours. Besides ensuring that you’re an early riser, getting the appropriate amount of sleep improves your health, memory, learning, productivity, and mood. It may even help you make fewer risky financial decisions, reduce stress, and decrease fat and increase muscle mass with exercise.
2. Avoid your phone.
This may sound crazy, but there a couple of perfectly valid reasons for not reaching for your phone first thing in the morning. For starters, placing it next to yourself throughout the night can interrupt your sleep because of the light the screen emits or the notifications that go off throughout the night.
Additionally, diving into your inbox or social media channels can be stressful and distract you from setting your personal priorities. Instead of setting your goals for the day, you’re frantically responding to an angry email from a client. That’s not the best way to start your day.
3. Exercise or meditate.
Yes. Whether if it’s going for run, lifting weights, plunging into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool, yoga or reciting oms, regular exercise or meditation reduces stress, makes you happier, increases your energy, helps you sleep better, gives your immune system a boost, and prevents you from developing future health concerns like heart disease.
However, just as important for an entrepreneur, exercising and meditating each morning can help you focus on what you need to achieve throughout the day and develop new ideas.
Related: Meditation, Mindfulness and Sleep Can Radically Impact Your Success
4. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Stop kidding yourself. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day since it’s going fuel your brain and body for the day. But, not all breakfasts are equal. Skip the donuts or leftover pizza and consume:
Healthy carbohydrates like oatmeal or rye toast.
Low-fat protein like eggs, nuts, greens, and beans.
Fruits and veggies.
Dairy alternatives like soy, almond, or rice milk.
While having a morning a cup of tea or coffee to wash down your breakfast isn’t bad, try sipping on some lemon water before you eat.
"Drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up spikes your energy levels physically and mentally. Lemon water gives you steady, natural energy that lasts the length of the day by improving nutrient absorption in your stomach. You need to drink it first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) to ensure full absorption," explains Travis Bradberry.
"You should also wait 15-30 minutes after drinking it before eating (perfect time to squeeze in some exercise). Lemons are packed with nutrients; they’re chock full of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. If you’re under 150 pounds, drink the juice of half a lemon (a full lemon if you’re over 150 pounds). Don’t drink the juice without water because it’s hard on your teeth.
Breakfast is also a great time to spend time with your family.
5. Lift your spirits.
Some mornings you just don’t want to roll out of bed. The weather’s crummy and you had a major setback. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s enough to kill your motivation for the next couple of days.
That’s why successful entrepreneurs practice lifting their spirits each morning. Whether it’s reading an inspiring book, memorizing motivational quotes, working on a passion project, or writing down your thoughts or experiences in a journal or blog, take a couple of minutes every morning to get in the right mindset before tackling the day.
If those tactics aren’t effective, write down the things that you’re grateful for.
"The five-minute journal is a therapeutic intervention, for me at least, because I am that person,” says Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Workweek. “That allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire day, to be a happier person, to be a more content person -- which is not something that comes naturally to me."
Related: How I Built A Million-Dollar Business In 12 Months
6. Set your goals and priorities.
Every Monday morning set your goals for the week. Each day for the rest of the week write down the goals and priorities that need to happen that day. Think about how you’re going to accomplish those goals while in the shower, jogging or whenever you have quiet time to yourself.
The most effective way to cross items off your to-do list is by starting with the hardest task - or the task that you’re dreading the most. Procrastinating on those tasks just leaves them for tomorrow. Get them done and over with now so that you can keep moving forward.
7. Get down to business.
Finally, it’s time to get down to business. You can now grab your phone and read and send emails, pop-in on social media, check the news involving your industry, and review metrics, such as the previous day’s sales. That data may alter your to-do-list, but because you got a headstart, you’ll be prepared and ready when it’s time to enter the office.
By creating, and sticking, to a morning routine you develop habits that will keep you healthy, productive, and prepared so that you can handle any situation that’s thrown your way. It may take some trial and error to find your ideal morning routine but it will make you more successful both professionally and personally.