By Dr. Peter Kim of Passive Income MD, WCI Network Partner
Every sunrise brings with it a new day, a fresh start, and a chance to make progress toward your overall goals. Plenty of successful people count their morning routine as (at least one of) the keys to their success, so it may be time to reevaluate yours.
Which morning habits are helping to make you a more successful person? Which habits are dragging you down? Here are some ideas to use your morning routine to propel you toward success.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough ZZZs
One of the most important morning habits starts the night before. The CDC recommends that adults aged 18-60 get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If you’re planning on waking up early, it’s important that you’re getting to bed early enough to account for those seven hours of sleep.
If you’re getting enough sleep, a 5am wake-up call means that you’re going to sleep by 10pm. Sleep, not bed. Make sure that you leave time for bedtime routines without encroaching on your recommended daily allowance of ZZZs.
Practicing good sleep hygiene can help you get the most from your time between the sheets. Some of the most important sleep hygiene tips include:
- Stick to a routine: go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Put down the electronics a couple of hours before bed.
- Keep your bedroom cool—about 65 degrees is ideal.
- Clear your mind before bed. Meditate or write down the things you need to do the next day—whatever you need to do to allow your mind to relax.
Rise and Shine . . . Maybe Earlier Than You’d Prefer
Some of the most successful people in the world attribute their success to waking up early to engage in a morning routine that works for them rather than against them.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to begin your day with plenty of time to get off to a great start. That might mean getting up earlier than you’d like. While the perfect time to get up will vary from person to person, aim for getting up by 6am.
The early morning hours are often the quietest and least stressful. If you have kids, they’re generally asleep. The phone doesn’t ring. Even noise from outside is less intense early in the morning. There are fewer Amazon delivery drivers or dogs barking to distract you. It’s the perfect time to relax by doing something for yourself (exercising, painting, reading, whatever piques your interest), focus on what needs to get done, and get in a mindset to do it all.
Get Moving Early
There are a ton of benefits to getting up and getting moving early in the morning. For one, exercise releases endorphins that can give you an early morning mood boost. It helps you feel energized and more focused, both of which are key components in a successful morning routine.
Exercising in the morning also means that you’re more likely to get enough physical activity throughout the day since you’ve already gotten a jump on it. Plus, vigorous exercise in the evening can make it harder to fall asleep, so it makes sense to get your workout in early.
Your morning exercise doesn’t need to be an intense Crossfit routine. A walk or jog around the neighborhood or on the treadmill, a half-hour of yoga, or even just a dance party in your living room will do the trick.
Feed Your Body and Brain Well
Another key to getting your morning off on the right foot is a healthy breakfast. A morning meal that contains protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber is ideal. Avoid sugary breakfast cereals and processed pastries filled with unhealthy fats. Try fruit and yogurt with healthy granola; eggs; whole-grain toast plus fruits or veggies; or a simple protein shake or smoothie to help kick-start your brain and keep you from feeling like you need a snack by 9am.
Coffee and the caffeine that comes with it is a little controversial among successful people when it comes to their morning routine. Some swear by it and others vilify an early morning cup of java. Just remember that moderation is key.
Your mind needs attention beyond simple nourishment, as well. Take time to get yourself into a productive mindset—however it is that you do that. It could be a few minutes of quiet meditation, repeating a mantra that helps you make the most of your day, or journaling.
Prioritize Your To-Do List
There are so many suggestions out there for how to make an effective to-do list and, there isn’t one right answer for everyone. However, they pretty much all begin with writing down the tasks you need to accomplish.
You could try Eating the Frog, a method where you pick the biggest, ugliest task on your to-do list and knock it out first thing in the morning. You could also split your to-do list into Top Priority, Medium Priority, and Low Priority categories. Time blocking is another popular way to plan out your day for maximum efficiency.
It’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to successful mornings. For some people, mornings simply aren’t their most productive time, or maybe work or family schedules simply don’t allow for an early-to-bed, early-to-rise approach. The most important part of a successful morning routine is just that: a routine. Create a routine that serves you well and stick to it.
What are a few daily habits you’re currently implementing in your morning routine? Do you get enough sleep, and if so, how do you manage that? Comment below!
[Editor's Note: We know you visit The White Coat Investor to learn about investment strategies and planning, and we’ve always strived to teach financial literacy to physicians, high earners, and anybody else who finds their way here. But the COVID pandemic has also shined a light on physician burnout and its dangers. That’s why we feel compelled to run articles and columns like this one—to make sure white coat investors stay mentally healthy. We know mental wellness is what leads to a long, fruitful financial life, and we’ll continue to run pieces like this because combatting burnout has become such an important part of everybody’s financial journey.]