4 things high achievers never do in the morning, according to psychology

Have you ever wondered what sets high achievers apart?

I certainly have. I am fortunate to have had some control of my schedule for the past few years, and with that in mind, I’ve spent quite some time researching and experimenting with different schedules and ‘rituals’ for consistent productivity. 

What I’ve learned is that there’s no one ‘right’ schedule —no surprises there. However, what is apparent is that for most high achievers, the morning plays an integral role. 

Robin S. Sharma, author of The 5 AM Club, wrote, “Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of your day will pretty much take care of itself.” There is a lot of truth to this. 

It’s as much about the things highly productive people avoid, though, as the things they do. Today, we get into four such things. 

Avoiding these things has been a game-changer for me. They might just be the same for you.

Let’s dive in. 

1) Hitting the snooze button

You know what’s absent in the morning routines of high achievers? 

The snooze button. 

I used to be a serial snoozer, thinking those extra few minutes were a blessing. But after delving into the world of psychology, my perspective took a complete U-turn.

As an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Azizi Seixas explains, “fragmented sleep can be problematic because it disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to sleep inertia, which is the groggy and disoriented feeling experienced upon waking from a deep sleep.” 

Worse yet, as Sexias tells us, if we do it repeatedly, it can lead to fatigue, lower productivity, and increased risk of health problems. Basically, smacking the snooze button disrupts your sleep, thereby starting your day on a note of confusion and lethargy.

By resisting the temptation to snooze, high achievers maintain a consistent wake-up routine, promoting better cognitive functioning and overall productivity for the rest of their day.

How to avoid this habit in your life

It’s crucial to make your morning wake-up as pleasant and friction-free as possible. First of all, place your alarm across the room to get you out of bed. It might also be worth considering a wake-up light that simulates sunrise. 

2) Sleeping in

According to The Independent, successful figures like Michelle Obama, Tim Cook, and Bob Iger start their days before 5 a.m. – well before the average US wake-up time of 7:30 a.m., emphasizing the value they place on early mornings. Is this by chance? 

It doesn’t seem so. A study by Sleep Junkie found that early risers tend to be happier and more successful financially. 

This isn’t just about getting up at an ungodly hour; it’s about establishing a disciplined sleep schedule that maximizes productivity and optimizes cognitive function throughout the day. As noted by the folks at Healthline, waking up early improves overall sleep quality, promotes better concentration, and, perhaps most importantly, gives us more time to get things done.

How to avoid this habit in your life

As someone who really loves sleep and is a bit of a night owl, transitioning to waking up at 6:30 a.m. was challenging for me, but it was possible. Here’s what worked:

  • I gradually adjusted my wake-up time, moving it earlier by 15 minutes every few days. 
  • I also optimized my bedroom environment for sleep, making it dark, cool, and quiet. 
  • To make mornings more appealing, I scheduled enjoyable or important activities early in the day, which motivated me to get up. 

3) Overlooking the benefits of morning exercise

Morning workouts aren’t merely about staying physically fit; they help us to mentally prepare for the day ahead. 

Research supports this; a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine linked regular physical activity with improved cognitive functions such as memory, focus, and planning. As you might imagine, these benefits are crucial for anyone looking to maximize their day’s productivity.

Healthline also notes that morning exercise boosts energy levels by increasing blood flow and oxygen throughout the body. This natural boost is essential for maintaining high energy levels throughout the day, allowing high achievers to tackle their tasks with enhanced vigor and clarity.

It seems high achievers are very much aware of this. Almost every successful person I have researched has some kind of morning exercise routine. Tim Cook, for instance, is known for his early gym sessions, while Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, often plays tennis in the morning.

How to avoid this habit in your life

Starting your day with exercise might require some adjustment, especially if you’re not a morning person. However, choosing an activity you enjoy can make this transition smoother and more enjoyable. 

You don’t have to get straight into lifting very heavy weights if that’s not your style. 

Whether it’s yoga, a brisk walk, or even dancing, the key is to move your body in a way that energizes and prepares you for the day ahead. 

4) Getting sucked into tech 

As you probably know all too well, it’s so easy to let our devices dictate our day’s start. You know how it is; we wake up and check a few emails, and before we know it, we are buried in work before we even take a shower. 

However, if you’re aiming to achieve great things, it’s crucial to kick off your morning on your terms, not your smartphone’s. 

As noted by empowerment psychologist Jay Rai, by “checking your phone right after waking up, you are priming your brain for distraction.” I won’t go into the science of it all, but basically, when we wake up, our brains take some time to be ready to process information, and by diving into emails or headlines, we force our bodies to skip some important stages of waking. 

So make it a rule: no phone until you’ve completed your morning routine. This means no scrolling through social media, no checking emails, and no reading the news. 

This approach not only prevents you from being sucked into a digital whirlpool first thing in the morning but also safeguards your prime productive hours. Instead of being bombarded with information and requests, you get the chance to enjoy some quiet time for reflection, engage in a bit of exercise, or quietly plan out your day’s goals.

The bottom line

That just about wraps it up for today, folks. 

Having experimented with my own schedule and studied those of high achievers, I’ve seen firsthand that while there’s no magic one-size-fits-all morning routine, certain habits definitely make a big difference. 

Avoiding those common pitfalls has been a total game-changer for me, and it could be for you, too. 

As always, I hope you found some value in this post. 

Until next time.

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business.

As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys.

In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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