Whether you realize it or not, your daily routine defines you. The actions you take and tasks you set out to accomplish each day dictate your trajectory in life. Highly successful people have a specific and intentional rhythm to their day; one that helps them maximize their productive hours, and one that addresses their specific short and long term goals. Everyone’s rhythm is slightly different, but most successful people have these ten habits in common.
Check out these ten things that successful people do every day:
1. Wake up early
Before you hit snooze, consider this: Most successful people (throughout history) are early risers. Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” in his book Early Rising: A Natural, Social, and Religious Duty. Yes, he felt so strongly about this that he wrote an entire book to encourage people to wake up early!
Why the early rising? A German proverb says, “The early morning has gold in its mouth”. The “gold” of early mornings is the uninterrupted time you have before the rush of the day sets in. Sort emails, catch up on the news, make a list of tasks to complete, or simply meditate. The peaceful moments of early morning set you up for success later in the day, as you’ve had time to gather your thoughts and contemplate your goals for the day. (As opposed to having just enough time to brush your teeth before rushing into the office…)
You’ve heard it a thousand times, but here it is again: Exercise is a MUST. In order to perform your best, you have to feel your best. Exercise produces endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemical, to help you feel your best and perform at your best! Whether it’s a morning jog, afternoon spin class or evening yoga, exercise is an essential part of a successful daily routine.
3. Eat Breakfast
Research consistently shows that breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. When you “break fast”, you’re restarting your metabolism from the evening’s sleep. Skipping breakfast means your metabolism doesn’t restart, and the urgent hunger you may feel around lunchtime can cause poor food choices and impulsive eats. Start the day with a small, nutritious meal to power your morning.
4. Tackle The Big Stuff First
Successful people don’t wait until they feel “ready” to accomplish something. Dive into the most difficult or complex task of the day first thing. Otherwise, the dread of starting will hang over your head and impact the rest of your day. Make your day top heavy, and you’ll find the rest of the day coasts along more productively from the momentum of a strong start.
5. Visualize Success
Visualization was popularized by the book The Secret, but can be incredibly useful for marking your path to success. People with specific visions for their future like “I’m opening a savings account with automatic transfer to save for a downpayment” tend to reach those goals, as opposed to those with vague ideas like “I want to own a home”. Consider what you’d like your future to look like in 1, 5, or even 10 years, and hash out the details in your mind. Then trace the path back to today, and discover what you can do today that will create the life you’ve imagined.
6. Take A Coffee Break
Coffee has been stimulating the minds of successful people for hundreds of years. From Bach and Beethoven to Jefferson and Roosevelt, coffee has long been lauded for its benefits. Research has shown that a coffee break immediately after a class can help students retain material, and breaks at work often boost employee productivity. Working smart instead of working hard can often lead to better results and a more balanced life, so make a habit of taking regular breaks to refresh and refocus.
Smiling and acknowledging your officemates can go much further than you think. Being a likable colleague pays dividends down the road, and can make you a more effective leader and manager. Using your smiling muscles also activates serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine in your brain. So even faking a grin can trigger the happy chemicals and make your day a little brighter. No one wants to be around the office sourpuss, and successful people are the movers and shakers that bring people together.
8. Spend Quality Time With The Really Important People
It’s a tired saying, but it’s true: No one lies on their deathbed wishing they spent more time at work. Relationships are the foundation of our lives as human beings, and in the mad rush of the working world it can be easy to lose time with the people we care about. Successful people make a habit of spending time every day with the important people in their lives, whether it is extended family, children, close friends, or (especially!) a spouse. Carve out those moments, even if it is simply watching Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune together after dinner.
9. Make A “Tomorrow List”
Just as important as today’s list of tasks, a “tomorrow list” gives you an out. No one can accomplish everything in one day, so keeping a tab on things that need to be done but aren’t urgent can help you feel less overwhelmed. Successful people prioritize their day, and are comfortable pushing off a task that isn’t urgent to the tomorrow list. Use an app like Do It Tomorrow, which allows you to move items between today and tomorrow lists (and save them for when tomorrow comes!).
10. Write It All Down
Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Kurt Cobain all had one thing in common: All were regular keepers of a journal. Writing down your thoughts on a daily basis has a dearth of mental and emotional benefits, and can serve as an important reminder of your past accomplishments and future goals.