Here Are the Best Early Morning Habits to Ensure Success

The early bird gets the worm

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Think of the person you admire most. The one who's killing the game, making constant #moneymoves, and achieving the level of success you're working towards. Well, it may be hard to believe, but you both have the same number of hours in a day. The only difference? That dude's making the most out of them. 

It's practically Rule No. 1 in the Billionaire's Handbook: Wake up early. Just about every industry titan rises with the sun (or before it—Apple CEO Tim Cook prefers 3:45 a.m.), and they're using that pre-office time to their advantage. Some meditate, some sweat, but all of them cultivate a valuable morning routine that acts as a warmup to their busy day.

Take a page from the power players and adopt one (or all) of these habits in order to rise and really shine.

1. Set Your Alarm for the Same Time Every Day (And Avoid the Snooze Button)

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If you're not a natural morning person, just remember: Practice makes perfect. Aim to wake up at the same time every day, like Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, who gets up at 5 a.m., no matter where he is in the world—jet lag be damned. Eventually, you'll shift your circadian rhythm and regulate your sleep cycle, which will leave you with more energy overall. Not only will you stop dreading the alarm, but you might also stop needing one entirely.

2. Give Yourself Some Quiet Time

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Before jumping out of bed and into your day, take a few minutes to clear your mind, take some deep breaths, and just be. You don't have to call it meditation, and no, you don't need to get any crystals involved, but carving out peaceful quiet time, even before very busy days, will alleviate anxiety and allow you to approach your tasks with a positive mindset.

3. Exercise Your Body

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The benefits of working out in the morning go way beyond the physical. Sweat out any stress, acquire a surge of endorphins and be prepared to tackle just about anything the day throws at you. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey walks 5.3 miles to work every day, but even a half hour of movement will leave you feeling energized and refreshed. Consider the burgeoning six-pack a nice bonus.

4. Exercise Your Mind

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Of course, an entrepreneur's most important muscle is his brain. Give it a flex with a daily crossword puzzle, a favorite habit of Mark Sisson’s, triathlete and founder of Primal Blueprint. Vocabulary tests not your thing? Read an article about a subject you know nothing about (hello, National Geographic) or start learning a new technical skill. Keeping your mind challenged will keep you sharp when it really matters.

5. Get Inspired

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Need a dose of motivation to get you excited about your workday? Listen to a podcast featuring one of your favorite founders or watch a TED Talk given by someone who inspires you. Don't worry, we won't tell you to look in the mirror and repeat affirmations, but words of wisdom will help keep you grounded and remind you why you're grinding in the first place.

6. Visualize Your Goals

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Before taking on the concrete tasks of the day, visualize and prioritize. Set your goals for the day, week or year ahead. Some may call it the "law of attraction," but what you're really doing is tapping into your subconscious in order to keep you hyper-focused on what you're trying to achieve. The best part? You can do this in the shower.

7. Eat Breakfast

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We have to agree with mom on this one. Skip the doughnut on-the-go and sit down for a healthy, balanced breakfast. Fuel up the right way and you'll avoid the mid-morning crash—or worse, the boardroom stomach rumble. Keeping your body nourished keeps your head in the game.

8. Make a To-Do List

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Now we're starting to ease into work mode, but not so fast. Mimic Sheryl Sandberg's infamous "spiral notebook" productivity hack and write out your to-do list. List out all your errands for the day, from the minor to the major. Checking off something as simple as "go to the post office" can feel infinitely satisfying, and help motivate you on to the next thing.

9. But Always Eat the Frog (Tackle Your Most Dreaded Task First)

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We can thank Mark Twain for this folksy bit of career advice: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Basically this translates to is, "Do the most daunting thing on that to-do list straight away." We all have different frogs, but whether it's responding to emails or editing a proposal, getting your most dreaded task done early makes the rest of your day easier. Plus, you can’t beat that sense of accomplishment. 

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