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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few extra hours in a day to finally hit the gym, sort out your inbox or read that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand?
Racing against time is the curse of a modern world. And if you’re an ambitious entrepreneur with a burning dream to build your success story, time can be an unaffordable luxury. So how do the busy people stay zen while spinning so many plates and get things done? The secret lies within the power of productive habits and carefully constructed morning routines that both maximize the value of every minute and prepare the body and the mind for the day ahead.
Here are the morning habits of 8 company CEOs who’ve learned to be productive rather than busy.
Marijus Andrijauskas, the founder and CEO of Teamgate, starts his day with Five Tibetan Exercises, also known as the "Fountain of Youth". The energy-generating practice that takes only 10 minutes to do, effectively strengthens and stretches all the primary muscles and improves balance.
Then he jumps into a cold shower, often referred to as “James Bond Shower,” to further increase the energy levels and improve his blood circulation. Although the thought of a cold shower in the morning sounds horrifying, its benefits for body and skin are unarguable. Once the mind is alert and ready to take in new information, Marijus reads the world news over a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
“I have Siri read my emails to me while I’m driving to work because when I get to the office, we do something we call ‘Morning muffin’ where we quickly go through a roundup of updates from last night.”
Meditation and does not touch the phone
Founder and CEO of TransferGo, Daumantas Dvilinskas says he doesn’t touch his phone in the morning. He heads for a shower around 7.20 am and then has around 20 minutes of meditation, which is his favorite part of the morning. Studies show that people who meditate report more energy, higher productivity and more patience. In fact, meditation was shown to improve productivity by 120%!
The entrepreneur says he sticks to the same breakfast every day, starting his day with a rich plate of scrambled eggs. To squeeze a little active time into his routine, he tries to walk to work when he can.
“I avoid checking emails in the morning. When I get to the office around 9 am, I spend 15 minutes planning the one most important thing I have to do that day and then go and do it.”
Grabs a coffee first
“The very first thing I do is go to the kitchen to grab some coffee,” says Jessica Dilullo Herrin, the founder, and CEO of Stella and Dot, a San Francisco-based social selling company.
Easing into the day with some meditation is essential for Jessica to keep her body, mind, and soul healthy and strong. After getting her dose of caffeine, she kicks off the day with two habits: meditation and exercise.
She says that maintaining a clear head and a good physical health is essential for her to get through everything that comes her way every day. Jessica believes that self-care is almost like putting on her oxygen mask and that only by taking care of herself will she be able to take care better care of the people around her.
Glass of water
Matas Jakutis is a founder of Filippo Loreti. As a 24-year-old entrepreneur who’s already made history on Kickstarter by running the most funded timepiece project in crowdfunding history, Matas has a healthy morning routine and happily shares his productivity lessons with others.
“My morning routine starts with a glass of water. I've found this very important as one tends to dehydrate throughout the night. Then I do around 20 minutes of morning meditation.” Matas insists that everyone should try meditation. “Tim Ferris has found that more than 80% of world-class performers that he interviewed have some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice. I believe that Headspace is a great resource to get started today,” he says.
Meditation is followed by 10 minutes of journaling about the five things he’s grateful for. “As author Julia Cameron puts it: ‘Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.’I could not agree more,” says the entrepreneur.
Then he spends 10 minutes focusing on affirmations and visualizations, which is a practice he believes can change one’s life if applied daily. “Affirmations (verbal) and visualizations (images) are simply mental rehearsal. On one level it's only a simple mental trick - just like setting your passwords to what you want to achieve or become - and you rehearse that every day automatically. But here's a fact - your subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what you've imagined. Your subconscious will act upon the images you create within, regardless of whether those images reflect your current reality or not.”
And he tops it all off by spending an hour reading non-fiction. He strongly supports the idea that there is nothing new in this world, so the problems and questions that we’re facing today, have most likely been figured out by someone before us. We can find the answers if we look for them.
Some fresh air first
Edmundas Balcikonis, the co-founder, and CEO of TrackDuck, often starts his mornings way past 8 am. “I travel a lot and work with people in different time zones, so often stay up very late for calls with clients or colleagues. However, my morning routine is always the same.”
He kicks of his day with a glass of room temperature water and takes in some fresh air either by stepping outside or opening a window. Then, it’s time for the day’s first cuppa: “I love tea and coffee, have a bunch of different varieties, but lately, I'm obsessed with bulletproof coffee with MCT oil and grass-fed cow ghee,” he says. Bulletproof coffee is a type of coffee that consists of “upgraded” black coffee blended with grass-fed butter and "Brain Octane Oil". It is believed to boost cognitive performance weight loss.
A cup of coffee is followed by a session of email checking with a podcast or some nice tunes streaming in the background. He always finds time for a quick workout, too. “I usually go for a short 4-5 km jog and do some bodyweight exercises. Sometimes I like to mix it up a little by going to the crossfit or regular gym. I then do some breathing exercises or short meditation, depending on where I am. Breathing exercises in fresh air are great; they are both energizing and relaxing. ”
Then shower and a good breakfast. “I like variety in everything, so I don't stick to one type of food, which also helps when traveling.”
“I start my morning with a glass of warm water with lemon and honey and a strong cup of black of coffee,” says Paulius Valatkevicius, the co-founder, and CEO at Dealoyal.
Then he tries to sort his emails right away, often doing it from his bed. As many of his colleagues, partners, and investors live in California, early mornings and late evenings are reserved for them. After a quick shower, he spends a good half an hour throwing a ball for his dog and then cracks on with the day’s work.
“If I don’t work out during the day, I try to do a short, custom developed exercise program in the evening, to stretch my neck and back muscles. I started caring about that after turning 30,” says Paulius.
A game with your pet
As the co-founder and chief product officer for Casper. Jeff Chapin presumably wakes up well refreshed after catching up on some decent Zzz’s and kicks off the day with his dog, Alta
He belongs to the group of people who avoid checking their phone and emails before their mind and body are properly alert. So first thing in the morning, he gets out for a run with his dog and then grabs a nice breakfast.
He says that getting a full eight hours of sleep or an entire hour in the morning to run with the dog is a rare opportunity, but getting six hours of shuteye and 30 of minutes to run and clear the head is definitely better than nothing.
Getting his dose of news and social media feeds
While many entrepreneurs try to start their day by boosting their mental performance through meditation or breathing exercises, Rich Pleeth, the founder, and CEO of Sup, loves to check his phone first thing in the morning.
He browses all the news sites, checks his social media feeds and replies to his emails while in bed. Then hits the shower and gets ready for the first meetings.