It’s incredibly easy to overlook the importance of a great morning routine. If you’re particularly busy, or have a highly demanding job, the natural instinct is just to hop out of bed and charge into work. Yet the most successful leaders understand that their mindset and preparation are as important as anything they do. That’s why top executives increasingly prize the creation of a strong morning routine. There’s lots of advice out there, but here’s our simple analysis of the three key elements to creating a great morning that will boost your cognitive skills and put you in the position to lead.
1) Get Enough Sleep
Your leadership skills are all housed in your brain. Therefore, it makes sense to treat it nicely. Though it’s tempting to stay up late, working out a problem, the effects are ultimately disastrous: Even a little sleep deprivation slows down your cognitive processes, impacts your decision-making, and dramatically decreases your ability to retain new information. Make sure you’re getting at least eight hours a night. And, if you need to add a few more hours to your day, go to sleep early, and wake up early. It’s far kinder to your brain, and allows you to be more productive throughout the day.
2) Make Time for Silence
Most of us live in a constant flood of information. Throughout the day, you’ll have dozens or hundreds of data points coming in, and several voices vying for your attention. If you can handle it, that’s great. If you like it, that’s even better — multi-tasking ability is often the sign of a strong leader. But make sure you’re giving yourself time to disconnect and recharge by making space in your day for silence. Physical silence is great: Walking the dog early in the morning, or stealing a few minutes of alone time before you head out the door, can clear the “noise” out and give you time to connect yourself. But mental and emotional silence is the real goal. Many leaders find themselves relying on yoga, meditation or mindful breathing practices, which allow their minds to settle and center in preparation for a challenging day. Try “mindful eating” — eating your breakfast in silent contemplation and gratitude — to include the nutrition that’s all-important to making smart decisions.
3) Get Into Action!
Get that blood flowing! Active people naturally have more energy, and with energy comes enhanced productivity. There’s also some evidence that activity can sharpen your decision-making and comprehension. It gets the blood flowing to your brain, waking you up and getting you ready to tackle the problems of the day. So sleep, and get quiet — but then, charge into the day with a workout, so that you can come into the office bounding with energy and ready to get things done.