“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love,” Marcus Aurelius said. In these agitated times, it seems like many of us lack the time to start the day with this simple exercise of gratitude.
We’re in a hurry to check our phones for any urgent messages, get our kids ready for school, get ourselves ready for a new day, and run out the door. And that’s fine – we’re doing our best and the last thing we need is to feel bad about our morning routine.
But in spite of the constant running around, there are small gestures we can cultivate every morning for our own well-being. Simple habits we can rely on to keep us grounded and make each day more promising.
For the five entrepreneurs I talked to, these habits are part of what makes a good day – and a good life.
“I sit quiet for just five minutes.”
“They say the way you start your morning determines your whole day. While that doesn’t always apply to me, my days are better when I get a chance to follow a routine.
First thing in the morning, I try to sit quiet for just five minutes. If I need to take a bit longer, I do. I work until late at night, so this time of silence is important and helps me start the day with a clear mind.
Right after that, I check all my communication apps. It may not be the healthiest habit, but being in touch with my team gives me peace of mind. If nothing urgent calls for my attention, I stay away from my phone and laptop for 20 minutes.
Water is essential: it wakes me up instantly, so I chug down at least two big glasses – while the coffee is brewing. Then, a few simple physical exercises help me get in the right mood for a day at the office. It doesn’t have to be a full workout, even five minutes of pushups and other exercises are enough to boost my stamina.
Once I shower and read the news for a few minutes, I’m ready to head to the office and start my day.”
— Liviu Tanase, founder and CEO of ZeroBounce
“I sit in the prayer room for half an hour.”
“I get up early in the morning, between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. First thing I do is take a bath and sit in the prayer room for half an hour, chanting Hindu religious hymns. After that, I either meditate or read a spiritual book for another half an hour. I believe we should all be grateful and feel blessed to be alive. We have to do our best to live life with a purpose for mankind.
Finally, I take early morning phone calls with my customers or pick up the most important tasks for another 30 minutes before I prepare my kids for school.
This is my daily morning routine and it keeps my energy very high ‘till I go to bed.”
— Siva Devaki, founder and co-CEO of MassMailer
“I try to do most of my work in the morning.”
“My best morning habit, by far, is my fitness routine.
A couple of years ago, I decided that I need to get myself and my life in shape.
I wake up around 6:00 a.m. every morning to do my exercises. After that, I get some breakfast (I have a prepared list of meals from a dietitian) and do some light reading before I head to work.
Before I start any work, I catch up with everything from the day before, including emails, messages in my team chat app and any quick tasks.
I try to do most of my work in the morning so that the rest of the day is less stressful. So, my combination for a great morning is a mix of exercising, reading and hard work.”
— Dmytro Okunyev, CEO of Chanty
“I get my dose of both work and fun before I even get to the office.”
“I wake up at around 7:00 – 7:30 a.m. and read for a while. Usually something less intense, like a biography. I’m currently reading ‘Belichick,’ a New York Times best-seller on Bill Belichick, one of the greatest leaders and coaches of all time.
After reading for 30 minutes, I make coffee, catch up on my emails and review my calendar. I love this time because at 8:00 a.m. most people are usually just getting up, so I can catch up and focus uninterrupted on my goals for the day.
The last thing I do is play guitar for 15 minutes, stretch for 15 minutes, or if it’s nice out, I’ll walk to the office to stimulate my mind and body.
I would say that I spend my mornings doing a mix of things that I have to do and things that relax me. This way, I get my dose of both work and fun before I even get to the office.”
— Cassy Aite, co-founder and CEO of Hoppier
“I never set an alarm.”
“First, I never set an alarm. I take all the sleep I need.
As soon as I’m up, I make coffee and chill in a room that I specifically designed as a morning room. There’s nothing in it except a small table, a Sonos speaker and a chair.
It’s here that I just think about the things I want to get done that day. I don’t write lists, I simply put on some chill house music and vibe out what kind of day I want. Sometimes it’s all action, other times it’s more thought-out.
Any day I don’t do at least the first two of these things, I’m destined for a slow day. They’re vital to me.
If it’s a nice day, I’ll trade sitting with headphones for a dip in the pool. It’s therapeutic, gets me moving, and keeps me productive the entire day.”
— Adam Hempenstall, founder and CEO of Better Proposals