Morning Routines of Successful People (Past and Present)
When it comes to creating a morning routine for success, it’s worth taking a leaf out of the books of some of the most successful people in the world!
By Jack Nodding, 05 July, 2019
Be you a morning person or a night owl, we all have to start our day at some point. So, what is it that gets you out of bed in the morning?
If it’s just a roll out of bed and into work kind of start, then perhaps your morning routine needs a little re-jigging. Because the key to an uber-productive day is to start off the day right.
Now that being said, when it comes to morning routines for success, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. So, the trick is finding what kind of morning routine feels right for you. To kick-start your day of success. On the right side of your bed.
To get the idea ball rolling, it’s always worth taking some morning routine pointers from the success-perts. So read on and take a leaf (or two) out of the books of these wildly successful humans. Past and present.
Morning Routine Hack #1 Mark Zuckerberg
Let’s start with the big dog himself. The Facebook founder and CEO definitely tops the list of wildly successful people. And he has a morning routine geared for success.
Now, Zuckerberg refuses to wake up at the crack of dawn. So, his brain’s fuelled for the day ahead. He doesn’t set an alarm and takes his sweet, sweet time entering the day. Waking up at 8am-ish is Zuckerberg’s kind of start.
First up, he checks in with Facebook (shocker). His Facebook recap is followed by a bit of good old fashioned morning exercise. This usually takes the form of a nature run with his canine companion in tow to wake up his body and generate some dopamine.
His biggest morning routine success hack: Zuckerberg eliminates small decisions that waste brain energy. He sticks to a basic breakfast and wears the same thing every day. Jeans-sneakers-grey t-shirt. The lack of dressing creativity allows more brain time to focus on important business decisions.
Morning Routine Hack #2 Charles Darwin
The naturalist and “Father” of evolutionary theory had a pretty rigid morning routine to kickstart his workday success. Darwin would rise just before 7 am every morning and like primal man, would begin his day by walking.
Darwin would take a morning walk (and a mid-day walk…and afternoon walk) along his favourite “thinking path” with his fox terrier in tow. And Darwin used this footslog as silent contemplation time to muse on scientific questions.
Darwin also wasn’t the biggest fan of morning chats that would break his thought flow. So, he’d have breakfast alone before starting the workday.
Morning Routine Hack #3 Arianna Huffington
The co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post has a morning routine catered around mindfulness.
Huffington has a severe dislike of starting the day with an anxious ALARM. So, she makes sure she’s in bed on time, to allow a natural morning wake up and enter the day mindfully.
Huffington spends a few minutes in bed to breathe deeply, practice gratitude and set her intention for the day ahead. Next up is a twenty to thirty-minute meditation to boost brainpower, enhance concentration and memory recall.
Huffington follows this mental workout with a physical workout. Usually stationary biking, hiking or yoga. And not a fan of breakfast, she shoots down a bulletproof coffee for brain juice, while planning her priorities for the day.
Morning Routine Hack #4 Jane Austen
Famous writer, Jane Austen, was a big fan of morning solitude before her house started rising. So, her solitary morning routine kick-started with a 6 am rise and shine.
And surprisingly her morning routine didn’t start with anything work-related. Writing was off the cards. But Austen made sure that she started the day with something she enjoyed. Something to stimulate her brain and creative side.
Her morning ritual always involved playing the piano and practising new pieces until 9 am. From there she’d take one for the team and cook breakfast for her family. Prioritising breakfast for some family time before starting her workday and putting pen to paper.
Morning Routine Hack #5 Richard Branson
The Virgin Group Billionaire is known for being on the adventurous (with calculated risk) side of life. However, Branson has a very structured morning routine to focus his day on achieving what he needs to get done.
No matter the day or place, Branson arises around 5 am. He keeps his curtains open, so he wakes up with the sun. Next up, Branson gets in some exercise that he actually enjoys. If a court’s nearby then tennis it is. Otherwise a walk, bike ride or kitesurfing (if the wind says so).
Next up, Branson makes time for a healthy breakfast and socialising with his family. To keep his body, mind and relationships in check. And his morning routine rounds off with slow ease into the working world. Think social media sweeps and email check-ins.
Morning Routine Hack #6 Immanuel Kant
No surprises here, the Enlightenment-era philosopher Immanuel Kant’s morning routine was focused on mental enlightenment. Kant would wake up at 5 am and make silent contemplation one of his first orders of the day.
He’d practice meditation and mindfulness (while drinking tea and smoking tobacco). Can a morning routine be any more philosophical? Though perhaps don’t add the last bit to your routine hit list. Lung cancer isn’t exactly a success story.
After his meditation-caffeine-tobacco stint, Kant would write for a while, finding morning his most productive time. And finally, would organise his lectures and notes for the work day ahead, starting at 7 am.
Morning Routine Hack #7 Barbara Corcoran
The ‘Shark Tank’ business investor Barbara Corcoran’s morning routine is not so routine-like. She does the usual getting ready humdrum; brushing her teeth, showering, feeding the dog, dropping her daughter to school.
Then she slots in some me-time a little later in the morning to work out for an hour. To get her body and mind moving. And if she has a little time up her sleeve, next up is some time out in the natural world tending to her garden.
Corcoran’s real morning routine for success kicks in, guns blazing when it comes to her to-do-list. Morning is her most productive time, so Corcoran gets her priorities aligned in a to-do-list that she tackles in the first half of the day. And she sets the list the night before, so she can launch straight into ticking boxes off.
Morning Routine Hack #8 Benjamin Franklin
Now as far as morning routines go, Benjamin Franklin’s is well documented. His morning routine for productivity was rigorous, to say the least.
The Founding Father’s meticulous morning routine “scheme” involved waking up at 4 am on the dot. He’d then proceed to have an altruistic conversation with himself…
Franklin would always ask the same question: ‘What good shall I do today?” And then fill in the dots. And yes, he’d come full circle at the end of the day, asking himself; “What good have I done today?” To ensure a bit of achievement accountability.
After making his morning resolution, Franklin would do the usual morning humdrum till 8 am. Have a shower, eat breakfast, do a bit of personal study, and prepare himself for work. Work that would be aligned with those “good” intentions.
Morning Routine Hack #9 Warren Buffet
The billionaire chairman has a pretty indulgent morning routine for success. So he looks forward to beginning the day! A little positivity goes a long way for inducing passion and work ethic.
Buffet wakes up a 6:45 am every morning and proceeds to eat like a self-proclaimed “six-year-old”. Buffet hits up McDonald's (yes you read correctly) for his favourite sausage McMuffin with all the trimmings; egg, cheese and bacon. And maybe a strawberry milkshake if he’s feeling a little sweet.
The rationale for his breakfast: the lowest death rate is amongst six-year-olds, so eating like one is the safest course of action he can take. Gotta love this guy’s style. Plus, it’s gotten him to the ripe old age of 88, so go figure.
Nonetheless, Buffet counteracts the “hearty diet” aspect of his morning routine by incorporating some physical exercise. And mental exercise! Before he turns his attention to the share markets, Buffet will read, and read and read. And continue to read some more throughout most of his workday.
Morning Routine Hack #10 Maya Angelou
Poet-singer-memoirist and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou was another early riser. Her morning routine would kickstart at 5:30 am so that she’d be ready to have her much loved coffee with her much loved husband at 6 am.
When her husband took off for work at 6.30am for work, Angelou would head to her writing destination. Morning time was Angelou’s prime creative time. And she wanted zero distraction. So, her place of a morning routine was tailored for writing success.
Angelou (always) kept a hotel room separate to her house to do her writing. A deliberately tiny, mean and sparse looking room, where she kept only a dictionary, a bible, a deck of cards, and a bottle of sherry (for creative inspiration). She would stay all morning till midday in absolute concentration. And it seems the Coffee + Hotel Room + Sherry routine = writing success.
Morning routines have lasted as long as (hu)mankind, and they’ve changed as much as society has. People have been setting up their morning for success in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways for centuries. In other words, there’s no single routine for success. Still, cultivating a morning routine is important for managing your goals.
Finding your perfect morning routine is just as personalised as your personal growth journey. So take some pointers, add some of your own initiatives, and include your own trial and error experiences into the mix. To create your kind of mourning routine for success.