I’ve Interviewed 300 High Achievers About Their Morning Routines. Here’s What I’ve Learned.
Breaking news, I know. But stick with me.
Your morning routine means nothing without a good night’s sleep behind it. Not getting enough sleep has been linked to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and might even decrease the effectiveness of your immune system.
Don’t become complacent about how much sleep you need; most people require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you’re constantly trying to get by on less than seven hours of sleep, it will catch up with you, likely sooner rather than later.
Here’s The Times’s guide on how to get a better night’s sleep.
Adapt your routine to different situations
While it might not always be possible to keep your full morning routine in place when you’re away from home, it is possible to have a travel-ready routine that is always there when you need it. If you’re staying with family, instead of heading to the local gym for a couple of hours in the morning, consider going for a short jog around the block instead. If you’re stuck in a hotel room with few options for breakfast, consider finding the closest grocery store to piece together something loosely resembling your favorite at-home breakfast.
Don’t beat yourself up
Nearly everyone I’ve talked to said they don’t consider one, two or even three missed days of their morning routine a failure, so long as they get back to it as soon as they can. They recognize that sometimes they’ll miss their routine, and that’s O.K.
Remember: Stop being so hard on yourself.
Jerry Seinfeld has a theory of habit creation that requires a person not to “break the chain.” The idea is that if there’s a certain task you want to do every day, you can keep yourself accountable by putting a red “X” over every day you complete this task on a large wall calendar. Soon you’ll have created a chain. Your only job then is not to break it.
While I’m a fan of Mr. Seinfeld’s theory, it doesn’t allow for occasional, yet inevitable, failures. If it works for you, great! March on keeping that chain alive. But it’s important to keep in mind that life happens and sometimes you simply won’t be able to stick with your morning routine. It happens, and that’s fine. Reflect on it, then forget it and move on.
“I give myself a break and take the longer view of what’s happening,” said Kevin Cleary, the chief executive of Clif Bar & Company. “If I can’t do my workout later in the day, I’ll tell myself I’ll just pick it up tomorrow or the next day. Six months from now, my body or I won’t know that I missed a day.”