Most nutritionists believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day. High-performing executives, on the other hand, aren’t so aligned when it comes to morning routines. Some suggest 5 a.m. fitness regimens, while others proselytize the benefits of extra sleep. However, these business leaders uniformly agree that prework routines are essential to productivity.
“I look to build a lot of consistent routine. Same thing every day,” Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and the mobile payment company Square, summarized in an interview with Business Insider. “Allows a steady state that enables me to be more effective when I do have to react to something out of band.”
Of course, there are a ton of options to choose from when designing an effective morning plan. So, as you reevaluate your a.m. activities, take a few cues from key entrepreneurs.
Exercise at the crack of dawn
Apart from his 18-hour work schedule and dual CEO role, Dorsey is known for his early-morning workouts, Inc. reported. The entrepreneur rises at 5 a.m. every morning to exercises for 20 minutes before heading to the Twitter and Square offices outside San Francisco. Occasionally, Dorsey goes for a 6-mile jog to get things started.
According to fitness experts, such routines reduce stress levels and clear the mind. Plus, nothing wakes you up like the cold, predawn air hitting your face as you run down deserted streets. Not an early exerciser? No problem. Just try hitting the sack 30 minutes early and avoiding the snooze button. You’re just going for a jog, not running a marathon.
Catch up on sleep
This approach may seem counterintuitive, but many moguls forego early morning tasks and instead sleep in. Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post, keeps such a routine, The New York Times reported. Since college, the publishing mogul has gotten eight or nine hours of sleep each night.
“When I get enough sleep, I’m better at everything,” she said in an interview with Parade. “I’m better at running The Huffington Post, I’m more creative, I’m less reactive, I’m better with my children.”
Most experts agree with Huffington. Researchers at the National Sleep Foundation found that adults aged 26 to 64 should sleep seven to nine hours per night to achieve maximum productivity during work hours. So, go ahead and switch off that 5 a.m. iPhone alarm.
Other business leaders begin their day with a short strategy session. Donna David, CEO of the property management organization Donna and Company, spends her morning sketching out a loose itinerary for the day. David breaks complex daily tasks into step-by-step processes and assigns herself three primary goals.
If you plan to emulate David’s routine, make sure to establish concrete and detailed goals. Planners with specific, fleshed-out objectives are more likely to succeed than those with vaguer aims, the Harvard Business Review claimed. However, don’t spend too long planning your day. Most productivity experts say such tasks should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
Knock out that busy work
Most professionals spend some portion of their day doing low-impact tasks like answering emails or filling out paperwork, even world-building futurists like Tesla Motors and Space X CEO Elon Musk. The tech mogul starts off the day by answering stray emails and taking routine calls with internal personnel, journalists and job candidates, Business Insider reported. This leaves Musk time for more important tasks like speaking with engineers and evaluating jet propulsion engines.
Try something similar by clearing out your inbox first thing and getting rid of all those stray papers lining your desk. Save the back half of your day for rocket science.