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We’ve all heard the line, early bird gets the worm. We get it: morning people are more successful, but what are the things successful people do before breakfast—and what should you start doing too?
What are the things successful people do before breakfast? Mornings, and breakfast for that matter, are pretty polarizing topics—you either love them or you hate them. One of the concepts we’ve been trained to accept as true is that the most successful people are those that wake up ready to take on the day with a smile and a cup of joe in hand. They are able to squeeze in workouts, read the newspaper, and make a full buffet breakfast before most of us even begin our final REM cycle. We’ll at least that’s what morning people are portrayed as on TV, but read on to learn a few of the things successful people do before breakfast.
They Wake Up Early
This one is kind of obvious, but let’s break down why success role models like Richard Branson and Tim Cook wake up at the crack of dawn, or at 5:45 AM and at least 4:30 AM, respectively. Polls have found that around 90 percent of executives wake up before 6 AM on weekdays. This time of morning is treasured by successful people as it gives them an opportunity to get work done before the rest of the world is awake. It’s a time without distractions. It’s an opportunity to digest the news before everyone else. It’s a time they have completely to themselves, which is truly a precious rarity in this world.
They Work Out
Working out in general can be a giant feat for some, but working out in the morning is one of the things successful people do before breakfast. Ursla Burns, Xerox CEO, schedules an hour long sweat session twice a week at 6 AM. Working out in the morning makes sure that it most certainly gets done, and doesn’t get pushed back and back and back until it’s time to go back to sleep and it doesn’t happen. Working out before breakfast makes it a priority, and for busy executives with demanding schedules, getting it done in the morning is the only way they can fit it in.
They Spend Time With Their Families
Did you know President Obama makes it a point to have breakfast with his family every morning? Spending time with their families in the morning is an opportunity for successful people to recenter themselves with the ones who know them best. Family time can serve as a mental or spiritual recharge to be with your loved ones, and successful people are not exempt. Similarly to the working out scenario, family time is one of the things successful people do before breakfast because if they can’t fit it in now, it might get lost in the hustle and bustle of their demanding routines.
Well we should certainly hope so. But in all seriousness, shower time is widely associated with idea time, especially for big entrepreneurial thinkers who like to have big ideas. The hygienic ritual creates a relaxing environment through solitary confinement and warm water, making it possible for the brain to release dopamine and boost creativity. Showers provide a welcome break from the distracting self-talk that we usually maintain throughout the day, allowing our greatest ideas to finally break through to the front of our minds. Successful people are just like us, they even shower too.
Emailing is one of the things successful people do in general, but for some of our early-bird examples, it is also one of the things successful people do before breakfast. Tim Cook is known for sending out emails at 4:30 AM (hence the estimate that he wakes up by at least this time.) While some sources might advise against checking your email first thing in the morning, it is a viable strategy for busy executives to get a head start on the day—clearing out the inbox, catching up on social media, and scheduling important meetings. Emailing constantly throughout the day can bog you down, but tackling it early on frees up time later on for bigger and better tasks.
They Read The News
Digesting headlines can be difficult to do in the middle of the day. As you may have guessed, the name of the game is getting things done before other distractions when it comes to things successful people do before breakfast. Reading the news might be combines with working out or emailing, but nonetheless the mornings provide opportunities for CEOs like GE’s Jeff Immelt and Virgin America’s Davis Cush to read the paper or listen to news radio. This ritual ensures that by the time they get into work they have an idea of what’s happening in the world, and how their organizations can continue to work to change it.
They Drink Water
While many of us reach for coffee first thing in the morning, some of the most successful leaders out there reach for water. Each morning, at 5 AM, Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands (the parent company of Auntie Anne’s & Cinnabon) wakes up and drinks three glasses of water, or 24 ounces. Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post drinks a glass of hot water with lemon. Drinking water is one of the things successful people do before breakfast in order to wake up faster, rehydrate their body and get a head start on the daily hydration quota, and to kick-start their metabolism for better health overall.
They Spend Time on a Passion Project
The words "side hustle" are becoming more and more prevalent in everyday conversation. But did you know that even the already rich, famous, and successful have side projects? They may not be business ventures, but many CEOs and executives have personal projects such as art hobbies or novel-writing that they don’t have the ability to nurture during their normal grind. By intentionally creating a time for their passions, successful people are able to follow through on their goals unrelated to their “day jobs” that fulfill them in ways that sometimes a career just can’t. Spending time on a personal passion project allows successful people to make themselves a priority, if even for just one hour a day.
They Work on a High-Stakes Business Project
On the other hand, many successful people also carve out time to work on a business project before breakfast. Sometimes projects just can’t be completed at work. Between social interruptions, ad hoc meetings, and the never-ending flood of emails, large chunks of time to devote to an important top-priority project at work can be scarce. By scheduling a project in the morning, successful people are able to get the satisfaction of finally spending time on a high-stakes project and carry that high of productivity forward throughout the rest of their day. If you finished a quarterly report before breakfast, wouldn’t that set a positive momentum for the rest of your day?
They Practice Gratitude
Several of the things successful people do before breakfast are designed to recenter them before they have to face the world, and practicing gratitude is no exception. Creating a mental list of blessings or writing in a physical gratitude journal each morning is a practice in recalibrating your perceptions of the world, and an important tool for stress relief and resilience. This gives successful people the opportunity to curate a clear vision for themselves and their organizations before even stepping foot in the office. Leaders with positive attitudes like those developed after practicing gratitude are much more likely to inspire happy workplaces and greater relationships in the office.
Networking over coffee is another one of the things successful people do before (or during) breakfast. Lunch meetings can awkwardly interrupt a day, and cocktail meetups are difficult to keep on track in terms of being strictly business. This time slot for networking also allows you to make it to family dinners in the evenings. By taking meetings in the morning, successful people are able to build relationships without attaching a sense of inconvenience to one of the most important parts of any business, networking. Successful people put their best face forward by taking morning networking meetings and show up fresh and ready for authentic connection.
The common connection between all of these things successful people do before breakfast is that all of these rituals and habits take advantage of the distraction free nature of the morning hours. Successful people find ways to incorporate work-life balance into their everyday routines and to continuously make themselves a priority in their lives. If they don’t work out or spend time with their families, then who will, right? These habits allow people to get themselves ready for the day in their own way, at their own pace, which is an important part of determining the outcome of the rest of the day. If you want to start incorporating more of these things that successful people do before breakfast into your own life, but aren’t a morning person (yet!) try gradually shifting your wake up times, while still prioritizing a healthy sleep schedule.