Wondering how to start the day off right and make mornings manageable instead of manic?
Mornings at my house are harried, too. My husband, our kids, the animals: Everyone needs something, and it’s usually chaotic until they’re out the door. But my 18-year-old daughter, Emma, set a good example for all of us. Since middle school, she has set her alarm to allow for a full hour of calm before school. Her rationale: “I refuse to be rushed, and I refuse to be late.” My husband, our son and I also adopted Emma’s early reveille, so we walk out well-prepared and eager to conquer the day.
How to start the day off right
To learn what works for other people, I turned to business owners who consider themselves happy and successful. Here’s how they start the day:
1. Moment of gratitude.
“I say my grateful prayer before getting out of bed,” says inventor Sandy Stein of West Hills, California. “We tend to dwell on all the things that go wrong, and it’s easy to overlook just how much greatness I have in my life.” On the rare occasions she doesn’t start the day with her ritual, Stein says the tough times of the day overshadow the good, reducing productivity.
2. Prayer and meditation.
Some people do one or the other, but business coach Lena West of New York does both. “It’s my A & L ritual—Ask & Listen,” says West, who devotes at least 15 minutes to “asking for what I need and then listening for the answer…. [Afterward] I feel grounded, guided and supported all day. I feel like I’m co-creating my outcome with the universe. When things don’t go as planned, I’m not as ruffled… which is critical for my life as an entrepreneur.”
3. Puppy time is the perfect start to the day.
Minutes after she wakes up in Los Angeles, Melissa Rappaport, who owns a public relations firm, heads outside with her dogs. “The refreshing air, along with watching them explore the great outdoors, sets a positive tone for my day,” she says.
4. Start social.
While it may seem counterproductive to start the day with digital distractions, Boston-based Instagram consultant Sue Zimmerman spends 45 minutes on the social platform “getting inspired by vivid visual content.” Style and food photo streams are her favorites because “they provide a creative charge that motivates me to have a beautiful day.”
Another social media strategist echoes those sentiments. Tulsa, Oklahoma,-based Cindy Morrison starts her morning with 20 minutes on Flipboard, an online source for organizing and viewing her favorite magazines. “I catch up on People magazine’s posts because pop culture makes me happy. By the time I hop in the shower, I know what’s happened overnight in my industry, and I’m ready for the day,” she says.
5. Work out before work.
Florida esthetician Mindy Black knows she’s at her best after hitting the gym, so she revamped her schedule accordingly. “My first client appointment is now at 10 a.m., which allows me to start my day with a full, unrushed workout. Nothing makes me feel better and more energized, and my clients deserve me at my peak,” she says.
Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do. For many, avoiding email keeps them on track with morning intentions, while others insist on seeing the new arrivals to their inboxes. Only through trial and error can each of us develop the habits that serve us best.
This article was published in April 2015 and has been updated. Photo by ChamanExperience/Shutterstock