You might wonder how successful people structure their mornings. Is there something so special and unique that people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg do that sets them up for success? And, if so, can other people put into practice some of these same activities to ensure success? Well, there’s nothing that special about what these people do that you, too, can’t easily work into your routine to ensure success.

I have worked with some remarkable people who have achieved great success. One consistency I see is that they have a ritual or routine each morning that sets the tone for the rest of their day, regardless of what they might encounter. I, too, have an approach to my morning that helps me to perform well throughout the day and accomplish what I need and want to.

Below are my tips for maximizing your mornings, gleaned from my own practice, as well as from well-known figures:

1. Get up early. This provides a cushion of time before you need to be at work or at meetings. It allows you to eat, exercise, organize your day, catch up on emails, or read, all while not being rushed. Some people anticipate the stress of dealing with traffic and their commute, so they leave early for their destination, allowing them to read and relax at their workplace.

2. Keep your wardrobe simple. Zuckerberg and his hoodie. Jobs and his jeans and black turtleneck. Need I say more? Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying this about his outfit:

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. I’m in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people. And I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”

Makes sense to me. I myself wear jeans almost daily – easy to match shirts with, thereby saving me time.

3. Drink water. That’s right, as simple as it sounds; it’s a vitally important act with far reaching benefits. Think about it: If you go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 7 a.m. you’ve gone at least seven hours without hydrating. The average adult body is 50-65% water and blood is 82% water. The brain cells are 85% water and muscles 75%.

Drinking water in the morning encourages the production of blood cells through a process known as hematopoiesis. It also balances the lymphatic system, which helps to fight infections. A glass of water first thing can also be cleansing and can purge the body of toxins, while purifying the internal systems.

Finally, it can boost your metabolism, thereby helping to energize the body. Similarly, make sure you eat–your body needs nutrients and energy in order to function properly.

4. Exercise. Most peoples’ energy levels are highest in the morning so they’re best able to exercise. If energy levels aren’t high in the morning, exercise can help get endorphins flowing which will energize you.

The late Stephen Covey, author of one of the top-selling business self-help books of all time, had a morning routine of swimming and riding his stationary bike. Bill Gates, President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Cuban have all talked publicly about their morning exercise routines. Many of my clients work out and/or stretch in the morning too, providing themselves with a confidence boost and energizing them to face their day.

5. Visualize and plan your day. Every morning I review what I need to accomplish for the day. With more challenging tasks I visualize myself doing them and seeing them to completion in my mind’s eye. This simple yet powerful tool can help people who are prone to procrastination be motivated by outcome rather than getting caught up in the process. So take two minutes to imagine your day unfolding the way you want it to and then organize your tasks to ensure success.

6. Give yourself a pep talk. Be your own self help guru. What can you tell yourself to get yourself ready to be successful? Do you think positive, empowering, and inspiring thoughts or do you look towards the day with dread and anxiety. The latter will surely hold you back while the former will set you up for success. Remember, it all starts in your head so think about what’s possible, not impossible.

Take a lead from the late Steve Jobs. He said in interviews “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today? And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

7. Be flexible. Know that mornings, despite your best efforts, can be unpredictable. This is especially true for families. Even the best laid morning plans and rituals are subject to change so the best way to handle this is to be flexible. Discuss with your significant other how you’d like to structure your mornings and enlist their help and support. Have each other’s back in case emergencies arise or family obligations require your attention.

Originally published at


  • Jonathan Alpert

    Psychotherapist, executive performance coach, and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Twitter: @JonathanAlpert

    Jonathan Alpert is a psychotherapist, columnist, performance coach and author in Manhattan. As a psychotherapist, he has helped countless couples and individuals overcome a wide range of challenges and go on to achieve success. He discussed his results-oriented approach in his 2012 New York Times Opinion piece, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already”, which continues to be debated and garner international attention. Alpert is frequently interviewed by major TV, print and digital media outlets and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, FOX, and Good Morning America discussing current events, mental health, hard news stories, celebrities/politicians, as well as lifestyle and hot-button issues. He appears in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job commenting on the financial crisis. With his unique insight into how people think and their motivations, Alpert helps clients develop and strengthen their brands. He has been a spokesperson for NutriBullet, Liberty Mutual insurance, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Jonathan’s 2012 book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days has been translated into six languages worldwide. Alpert continues to provide advice to the masses through his, Huffington Post, and Thrive columns. @JonathanAlpert