The Key to Success Begins in the Morning

I am not a morning person.

But to be clear, I’m not sure I’m an afternoon person, either!

I don’t get going easily in the morning, and once I’ve dragged myself to the office, I don’t start into work easily.

The last thing I want to be doing when I get to work is deciding what to work on. Thinking about what to work on in the morning can stop me dead.

Figuring Out in Advance What I’m Going to Do in the Morning Helps Me Start in Higher Gear

In the fabulous historic business book Father, Son & Co., Thomas Watson Jr. says his legendary father, Thomas Watson Sr., who built IBM, would always arrive at work in the morning with five things he wanted to work on that he came up with the night before.

People Are People, Not Robots, and Not All Time Is Equal

I think morning time can be much, much more productive than afternoon time; maybe it has to do with biorhythms or something. I don’t overanalyze why; I just take advantage of it and try to dive right into work first thing in the morning. Generally, I think it’s the best time to knock out your most difficult work first. When I wrote my first business books, I just shut myself in my office for an hour or so each morning until they were done.

I had an accountant once with only three employees. Nonetheless, they had quiet time every morning, from something like 9:30 to 11:30. Employees didn’t meet or interrupt one another during this quiet period. And they didn’t take calls from clients. How did I feel about it as a client? To be honest, I didn’t really like it—that is, until I copied the idea for my own business, at least for internal disruptions.

So now that I’ve identified how important morning work time is, how can you start the day with that feeling of success in the air?

Well, for me, although I used to avoid it like the plague, I drink some coffee. It’s a great natural lift, and my morning “personality” badly needs it!

Here’s another tip for starting your morning off on a better foot: instead of automatically listening to the news with negative headlines of car accidents, violent murders, and terrorist attacks, you can turn on some upbeat music. Listen to the news later, or skim it on the Internet.

What about your commute? If you commute in grueling traffic for a good chunk of time each morning, with your foot on and off the brake and your concentration and anxiety at high levels, then you’ve really given your best effort already, even before you start work!

So many people today are skipping breakfast. Bad idea! Start your day with a healthy breakfast.

What about exercise in the morning? I swore I would never, ever do my exercise in the morning. But waiting to exercise until later in the day meant that I would struggle to try to fit it into my schedule and I often ended up skipping it altogether. And how could I exercise if I’m half asleep and groggy? Well, I did make a total switch to working out in the mornings, including getting up even earlier, and the results are fantastic.

By exercising in the morning, I feel in great physical shape all day long; I feel invigorated and on top of my game, totally ready for anything that work is going to throw my way. Exercise isn’t just about keeping your body fit; it’s also about keeping your mind fit and putting you in the success mode.

How Do I Get Going When Times Are Tough?

I had a really tense time when I was trying to sell a business and my largest client was on the verge of leaving. A professional facilitator at my entrepreneurs’ forum retreat suggested that in the mornings I say affirmations to myself of what I was thankful for. At first I thought, “I would never do that; you’ve got to be kidding!” But I tried it and it really helped. When things were really tough, I’d do the same thing after lunch to help me through the afternoon, too.

You can find great affirmations on the Internet, but you probably want to customize them, too. When times are really tough, you might want to remind yourself what you are thankful for. Is it your kids? Your spouse? Your health? That you are alive today?

You can also use affirmations to change your outlook. “I am going to envision success today!” “I am going to envision a much larger business.” Or “I will not be afraid of taking risks and making changes today.”

How Morning Routines and One Color of Socks Can Help Start Your Day Off Right

Maybe I’m a little crazy, but I find having a routine in the morning and not falling off it is important for me.

Recently, I realized that I was being taken down a notch every single morning because I had to spend a minute or so trying to find a matching pair of socks in my sock drawer. Forget that! So I went out and bought 70 pairs or so of socks, half brown all exactly the same and half black all exactly the same. Now when I open my sock drawer, I get a little lift in the morning because I recall how clever and organized I am.

Then I go to my clothes closet and again I feel good about myself because I celebrate that I probably have fewer clothes than anyone else I know, but I like my clothes. I have really cleaned out that clothes closet and gotten rid of things I don’t like, lightening my load so to speak, and helping keep my morning in gear.

Do I always get up early? No! Do I always get up at a reasonable time? No! But when I do get up, after I do my morning exercise, eat my healthy breakfast, drink my coffee, and put on my organized clothes, I arrive at work ready to make the best decisions in the world.

In summary, the morning is a brutally important work time, so it is worth some advance planning and thought to maximize its productiveness.

Takeaways You Can Use

  • Success in the morning begins with the plan you made the night before.
  • Do your most difficult work first thing in the morning!
  • Morning routines and habits help kick-start your day.

For More About How to Succeed in Business

Here’s a few more tips about how to succeed in business:

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.