13 things successful people do before breakfast

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Have you ever wondered how some people achieve impressive things while the rest of us struggle to catch up? 

What if I told you that the key to their remarkable achievements lies in a few simple morning habits and rituals?

Time is ticking, and success waits for no one. Are you ready to seize the morning and claim your destiny? Let’s dive in!

1) Wake up early

What time do you usually wake up? I’m assuming 6 to 8 am, right? What if I told you that some successful people wake up even earlier? Think 5 am or even between 3 and 4! 

That’s still evening in my book.

The “craze” of waking up early has taken the world by storm in recent years; however, there still aren’t that many takers, are there? 

On the other side, the list of powerful people that wake up before dawn is incredibly long. I’ll just mention Tim Cook, Michelle Obama, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Square CEO Jack Dorsey, Virgin Group founder and chairman Richard Branson, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and many others. 

One thing you’ll notice is that CEOs are predominately known for getting a leg up on the rest of us. 

I mean, I get it. I’m not a CEO, obviously, but I can safely assume they have a lot on their plates. 

To be frank, I go through periods when I set my alarm clock at 5 am. I wear a Fitbit-type pedometer that allows me to set the alarm to vibrate so I don’t wake up my spouse. 

I typically last anywhere from one to three weeks. After that, I go back to my old ways, unfortunately. This is especially true in Winter when it’s super dark in the morning. 

I guess I’ll never be a CEO, then.

What time are you waking up? Do you think there’s wiggle room to wake up a bit earlier? 

2) Review/plan/prioritize 

Many successful and powerful people like to start their day by reviewing their goals, prioritizing tasks, and planning out their day. This allows them to start the day with clarity and purpose.

For example, the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, stresses the importance of planning and prioritization. She believes in proactively mapping out her day, focusing on critical tasks, and leveraging her time effectively to drive results.

Maybe you, too, could look at your schedule (if you have one) while you’re drinking coffee and see what you could do to make the day more productive

If you’re feeling stuck in your ways because you believe that only big actions can tip the scale, know that success can also come by doing the right things in small increments over time.

Think about that for a minute.

3) Journaling

I’m sure you’ve heard of journaling. I’m also pretty sure you’ve never tried it yourself. And I get you. The thought of putting your thoughts down every day seems a bit boring. But hear me out.

Take 5 minutes each morning (or evening) from your busy schedule to trap your thoughts on paper. Use this private journal to express your most inner thoughts and worries. It will be the cheapest form of therapy that you can get. 

Journaling helps with anxiety, helps create awareness, regulates emotions, encourages opening up, and can even speed up physical healing.  

It also goes hand-in-hand with the following thing successful people do first thing in the morning. 

4) Practice visualization or affirmations 

Apart from journaling, engaging in visualization and doing affirmations is something that successful people do. 

You can think of this what you want, but scientific studies have shown that visualization can activate neural pathways in the brain, and thus priming it for improved performance. 

Athletes are known for utilizing visualization techniques to improve their skills and achieve peak performance. 

This process of rehearsing movements in your head has also been found to enhance muscle memory and improve overall performance.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, and Will Smith are just some of the famous people that practice visualization.

Additionally, you can use affirmations – concise, positive statements, to reinforce positive beliefs and reshape your self-perception. 

Simply repeat affirmations aloud or silently every morning or anytime, really. 

And talking of adopting new habits and skills:

5) Learn a new skill 

While the world is still sound asleep, successful people also like to learn new skills. We all know how important it is to keep learning. 

This precious time when there are no distractions gives you the peace of mind to practice new skills without worries you’ll be interrupted. 

If you don’t have the time after work to learn a new language, technical skill, or something entirely else, why not do it before? It might be hard in the beginning, especially if you aren’t a morning person, but it will get easier over time.  

6) Check their email

Yes, believe it or not, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and other business people like to jumpstart their day by answering emails. 

Cook reportedly wakes up at 3:45 am and focuses on emails for an hour. After that, he works out and then drinks Starbucks coffee with a side order of more emails.  

To be honest with you, checking my emails is what I do the first thing when I get out of bed. Of course, I don’t have nearly the amount of pressure on my shoulders, and the emails I get won’t make or break a trillion-dollar company.  

I’ll let you think about this with a quote from Apple’s CEO. “When you love what you do, you don’t really think of it as work. It’s what you do. And that’s the good fortune of where I find myself.”

Good for you, Tim. 

7) Work 

From the example above, we can see that some of the most successful business people love to do some work as soon as they get up. It doesn’t matter if it’s 7 am or way earlier. 

They see it as a jumpstart on their peers and competitors. When other people are asleep, you can do your best work in many cases. 

However, not everyone follows this measure. 

8) Spend time in nature 

Being in nature undoubtedly has a positive impact on a person’s well-being and creativity.

Successful people may take a morning walk or spend time in their garden, connecting with the natural world and gaining inspiration.

If you can get up early to spend some time walking around, jogging, or just sitting in the park or back garden, if you have one, you can reset your mind and have a fresh start to the day.

But being in nature isn’t the only thing you should start prioritizing:  

9) Spend quality time with their family

Another way that successful people spend their time before breakfast is to simply spend it with their family. It’s what I like to do too. And it’s often the best part of the day, for better or for worse. 

Playing with your kids, drinking coffee with your partner, or simply getting ready for the day together creates bonds and can alleviate the stress of work days. 

10) Network

Some successful people also use the early morning hours to connect with colleagues, mentors, or potential partners, cultivating relationships and pursuing new opportunities.

When I was still working a 9-5 job (and before I had kids), my colleagues and I would get together every morning before work for a cup of coffee. 

I won’t lie to you. 

This often lasted well into the work morning as we had the type of job that allowed this. None of us also worked for the same company. We were colleagues in the sense that we worked the same job in the same place but for different firms. 

11) Work on a passion project

Forward-thinking companies like Google implement a side project time. It’s basically an employee benefit that lets employees work on passion projects for a percentage of their time at work.   

But even if your company doesn’t give you this benefit, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t carve out some time to pursue new possibilities, work on a side hustle, or do anything else that may pay dividends for you in the future. 

12) Exercise/practice mindfulness 

There’s a long list of famous and successful people that exercise first thing in the morning. Early morning. Think 5 am or so. 

One added benefit of that is that no one is up yet, so they don’t have to worry about what they look like if they’re going to the gym or for a run. It also gives them the energy and drive to continue with the day on a high note. 

Although I tried working out first thing, it’s not my cup of tea, unfortunately. 

If you’re like me, you’ll love the next thing. 

13) Sleep

Successful people, that sleep in? You don’t say. Yes, not everyone is a morning person. You can get ahead in life even if you sleep until the very moment you have to start working. 

It’s not when you work, it’s how you work. If you’re the most productive later in the day and you can adjust your schedule, more power to you. 

Mark Zuckerberg wakes up around 8, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian tried to be up by 10 am (I’m guessing that was before he got married and had small children), and Pharrell Williams wakes up at 9 am, for instance. 

There are also most of the showbiz people that stay awake until the wee hours and wake up late as well. 

Final thoughts

Find what works for you and stick with it. Not everyone is a morning person. If you perform the best in the evening, do that. 

If one thing about successful people is true, it’s that they’re often the most interesting people in the room. Why not simply strive for that? It will make you a better person, too.    

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

The subtle power of kindness: 15 small acts that make a big difference in other people’s lives

People who struggle with self-esteem often make these 10 mistakes