What you can learn from the morning routines of some of the world’s most successful people

Isobel Anderson

Do you often spend your mornings kitesurfing, or block out your morning schedule to spend time with your loved ones? We thought not. The morning routines of these successful people may not always be practical for the everyday life of us mere mortals, but there is something to be learned from the way they kick-start their days, and why…


1. Rethink your alarm

Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, and Arianna Huffington are among those who don’t use, or believe in, alarm clocks. Huffington rejects an alarm because to ensure plenty of sleep – 8 hours on average – and lets her body clock wake her, while Winfrey can rely on waking up between 06:02 and 06:20 naturally every day. While not setting your alarm may a recipe for disaster when you’re working on a normal schedule and your body clock needs a polish, we agree that a harsh and startling alarm can be detrimental to the way our bodies are meant to awaken. We are naturally programmed to respond to light as our gentlest wake-up call, so why not invest in an alarm clock that slowly brightens over 30 minutes to wake you up in the most morning-friendly way possible!

2. Construct your first thoughts

Your first thoughts of the day are crucial. What we wake up thinking about isn’t always constructive to a positive day – “I’m so tired, I need more sleep” “I’m dreading this meeting today” “Oh God it’s only Tuesday”. Try getting into the habit of forming the same first thoughts each day, and make them positive ones. Author Aiste Gadzar says “The moments before fully getting up and jumping out of bed are really important to me. I say to myself ‘I am awake’. I become aware of myself, stretch my body from head to toes, massage myself, take a deep breath, and then get out of bed.” By spending the time on a ritual like this, you can get your day off to a good start and by the time you’re up, you are more prepared to take on everything else you need to think about.

3. Fitness

Richard Branson has been known to head straight for a workout after he wakes up at 5am, but not all of us have access to kitesurfing facilities first thing. But Jennifer Aniston’s take on morning exercise may be a little easier to adopt. She completes 40 minutes of yoga before breakfast, to wake her body up and allow time for mindful thinking. Don’t have the time? A walk around your neighbourhood before hopping in the car will do just fine.

4. Fuel

We all love a cooked breakfast, but loading up of grease and carbohydrates can leave you feeling sluggish. The good news is, there are plenty of successful advocates for a hot brekkie, like Michelle Obama, who usually eats scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and grapefruit in the morning. If you’re in a rush, take note from Richard Branson who goes for muesli to keep him feeling full and restore his energy after all that exercise! A common theme among high-flyers is of course, coffee. But for those who would rather keep their caffeine intake as low as possible, make like Barack Obama and opt for a herbal tea like green or peppermint. The sugar will also curb your coffee cravings.

5. Bite the bullet

Whilst it may be tempting to put off your most daunting tasks until 10 minutes before you leave the office, this is not the most productive way to work. Elon Musk deals with his ‘critical emails’ first thing in the morning, so that he doesn’t have them hanging over him all day. You will notice a difference to your day the first time you incorporate this method into your daily routine – you have the rest of your day to get on with everything else without the worry of that report you STILL haven’t written, or that presentation you STILL haven’t finished. Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not a morning person – research shows that our “off peak” times are our best moments for deep thinking.


Why not have a go at switching up your morning routine to include some of our suggestions, and see how it affects your day?