9 things highly successful people do before 9am

Do you want to be highly successful? Or to optimize your day in the way that high achievers do? If so read my top tips for mornings and how they affect your levels of success!

1) Expose themselves to daylight, before screen time

Daylight is essential to our health and well-being, and that’s why Dr. Andrew Huberman’s motto is “Sunlight before screen light”.

And to get the real benefit from daylight (even if it’s cloudy) you need to go outside. Why? Because the light you get indoors – even if you have huge windows – is just a fraction of what you get from going outside.

Don’t believe me? Download a lux meter app for your phone, I promise you will be amazed by the results.

I usually feel awful in the mornings and it’s so tempting to just reach for my phone and check emails and social media. But these days I try to take a minute to go and stand outside. Often, once I’m up and out of the house, I feel like taking a little walk.

And that usually makes me feel better still. But I never put pressure on myself to do that, in case it puts me off going outside.

As someone who works from home, doing this often saves me an hour of unproductive doomscrolling, and it energizes me!

From a scientific perspective, this is achieving a boost in cortisol, the “stress” hormone, which, in small doses, is what helps us get things done. And also melatonin.

This comes in handy for starting our wake/sleep cycle and means that when bed time comes we are more likely to be tired. Making it easier for us to get great stuff done the next day.

2) Yoga or other exercise

So once outside, highly successful people usually take the time to do some kind of stretching based exercise. For many, yoga helps, not just with the body but also to focus the mind.

For me, I choose Qi Gong, as I find it easier to do. Although these practices come with a long history and studies to back up their efficacy, many people find that any exercise regime will do.

But given the studies on Yoga it is good to know that this practice specifically helps with:

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Normalizes blood pressure
  • Reduces stress
  • Calms the mind
  • Enhances wellbeing
  • Boosts happiness
  • Connects the mind and body
  • Promotes inner peace

What a great way to start your day! It’s no wonder that Yoga is so popular with highly successful people.

3) They write morning pages

If you’ve heard of morning pages, you’ll know they are a technique from the book Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with successful people, but here’s the thing. Morning pages are good for anyone. The idea is that you write in a stream-of-consciousness form, as soon as you get out of bed. It’s about getting out whatever unwanted thoughts or anything really, to make space for a happier and more productive day.

Cameron explains how she wakes up grumpy, but by writing these three pages every morning, it transforms her day.

Although I’m yet to try writing Morning Pages, I have several friends who swear by it. The aim is to write 3 handwritten pages in about 15-20 minutes. But as Cameron says, there is no wrong way to do it. 

My friend who has been successfully building regular positive habits gave himself 3 lines as the target. And similar to me and my morning walks, he usually finds he makes it to 3rd page.

Here are some of the benefits of Morning Pages.

  • Helps clear your mind and quiet distracting thoughts to focus on what’s important
  • Unlocks your creativity and connects you with buried ideas
  • Diminishes self-criticism and anxiety
  • Helps with insights and intuitions
  • Generates better ideas and problem-solving
  • Centers you and enhances mindfulness
  • Promotes happiness, grounds against stress
  • Reveals purpose and meaning

Simply put, Morning Pages brings clarity, creativity, calm, and conscious living.

The act of writing accesses your inner wisdom, inspires personal growth, and promotes overall well-being. Give this daily ritual a try – it may just change your life, just like all the highly successful people before you.

4) Give themselves a hug

Ok, I’ll be honest, I don’t know how many highly successful people do this, but they should! Getting up early, walking, ice baths, yoga, writing plus perhaps getting the children ready for school, then going to work – it’s a lot!

My good friend gives herself a little hug every morning at 4am before she gets up to start baking her sourdough bread for her bakery. She finds that this ritual has changed everything for her, and helps her to deal with the stresses of everyday life with a more positive mindset.

This allows her to put love and energy into her cooking. And in turn, you feel hugged when you eat her food!

5) Have an ice bath

Now this one is definitely not for me, as a lover of heat and hater of cold. But many friends of mine, and lots of highly successful people, swear by an ice bath. 

Here are some long-term benefits of a morning ice bath:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Increasing production of white blood cells
  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Activating the nervous system
  • Improving immunity
  • Reduction in symptoms related to colds and flu
  • Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease

In the short term, ice baths stimulate dopamine which increases your drive and desire to go out and achieve things, and your feelings of happiness.

Can’t do an ice bath? A cold shower or swim in a cold pool can do the trick.

Be careful though, this should only be done by those without heart conditions and you should consult your doctor and read up. Most people should only start with a minute or so and acclimatize themselves gently.

6) Take a sauna

It seems that exposing our body to extremes in temperature is really good for us. So if you can’t (or like me, won’t) do an ice bath, a sauna or steam room are other ways of receiving many of the health benefits. While also setting yourself up to have a productive and successful day.

And there’s more.

You can use that time to listen to an educational or inspirational podcast, meditate or do anything else that helps you clear the mind or learn new things. (The morning pages might get a bit soggy though!)

7) Reflect on their daily agenda

Sometimes when I feel stressed, I just want to leap into work as soon as I can. This seems like a good idea at the time but later when I check my to do list I realize that I’ve often missed important deadlines for tasks, or otherwise sabotaged my day.

Here are some highly successful people who take some time to think about their daily agendas, and why they do it:

  • Bill Gates – The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist starts each day by looking at his schedule and prioritizing the most important tasks.
  • Oprah Winfrey – The media mogul has said she reviews her daily schedule the night before and again first thing in the morning in order to plan her time effectively.
  • Tim Cook – The Apple CEO spends the early morning hours going over his agenda, emails, and messages to prepare for the day ahead.
  • Richard Branson – The founder of Virgin Group starts his day by writing down things he wants to achieve by the end of the day. He reviews this list in the morning for motivation.

8) Choose a priority (or three)

To quote Jim Collins, author of From Good to Great, “If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.” 

This changed my life. It’s one of those things that is so obvious when you hear it but can escape you if not.

This motto guides my business – my team and I set three high-level goals yearly. My assistants shape three objectives supporting those aims, their direct reports outline three connected targets, and so on for each quarter. This simplicity focuses effort.

Apply it to daily plans. Every morning, ask: What three things move the needle today? Successful people will write these action items and align them to their annual goals (e.g. drive revenue, boost awareness, build capabilities).

They accomplish them no matter what, not letting urgency crowd their vision.

9) Block off time for deep work

We all know how difficult it is not to check that phone when it’s beeping. Maybe something urgent has happened! Or maybe not. But let’s find out and then find ourselves distracted for 20 minutes by this email and that message and so on. Sound familiar?

Highly successful people block off times in their day when nobody can contact them. If they have a personal assistant, that person can take any urgent calls. If you want to apply this but don’t have that luxury, just be sure to tell the important people in your life, and then if you can, turn your phone to silent.

If you can’t do that for safety reasons, set your ‘do not disturb’ function to only allow certain people to call, or, my favorite, to allow people’s call to come through only if they call twice in 5 minutes.

This helps you screen out unimportant matters, and heightens your productivity in these ‘deep work’ moments.

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

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