Do you have a weekday morning routine? Many of us tend to ‘wing it’ and simply react to whatever the day brings. However, research shows that, whatever our age, we thrive on the consistency and structure of routines, and that they can make a major difference to how healthy, happy, and productive we are every day. As women in business, we have so many demands placed on us, and an effective routine can really help to reduce stress and anxiety, and help us achieve our goals.
I was reminded of the power of routine recently when looking back on an interview I did with My Little Black Book. It got me wondering which habits were part of the morning routine of other successful women. Here are six of the most effective, to help you start your day off with your best foot forward!
1. Establish a sleep schedule
We all have different wake-up times, based on our natural rhythms (night owl or early riser?) and family or work commitments. But whatever time your morning routine starts, it’s vital to get enough sleep. This was something Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and Thrive Global, learned the hard way after she fainted from sleep deprivation, hit her head on her desk, and broke a cheekbone. Now she gets eight hours of sleep 95% of the time, and as a result, is able to wake up naturally instead of using an alarm.
To establish a sleep schedule, it’s important to stick to regular times for going to sleep and waking up. Setting an alarm at bedtime can be helpful in sticking to this schedule. Another good habit is to remove electronic devices from your bedroom, and incorporate a wind-down ritual like taking a bath or reading in bed (as long as it isn’t work-related!). All of this will make a difference to how much – and how well – you sleep.
2. goals for your day
Another habit many successful women incorporate into their morning routine is setting some form of goal or intention. This need not take a lot of time – an extra fifteen minutes before your child’s wake-up time would be well spent meditating or journaling (what Victoria Beckham refers to as ‘me time’), or you can use the time spent commuting to write out your goals.
Knowing what I want to accomplish before my head hits the pillow helps me feel energised and makes it easier to prioritise. If I’m working from home or on the train on the way into London, the first thing I do is pull out a clean sheet of white paper and start jotting down all the ideas and to dos that pop into my head. It helps me structure my day and stay focused.
3. Don’t skip breakfast
If you’re pushed for time in the mornings, it’s always tempting to just skip breakfast altogether. We’re all guilty of just grabbing a quick coffee and running out the door! But while breakfast might seem like a small thing, it really is the most important meal of the day. No matter how busy the life of a female entrepreneur, you cannot achieve peak performance if you are not well nourished, and fueled up for the demands of the day.
Of course, what you eat is almost as important as actually eating breakfast. Stick to protein, whole grains, fruit, and slow-release carbs, and pass on the pain au chocolat (at least until the weekend). If you struggle for time, you can prepare breakfast the night before.
e benefits of exercise are well-known, but researchers believe that exercise in the morning is the best way to set yourself up for a productive day. A study at the University of Bristol found that people who got their bodies moving during the workday had more energy and a positive, proactive mindset.
Of course, it may not be possible to fit a full workout in every morning, but as little as ten minutes can make a difference. Whether it’s a yoga session, a walk, or just a few crunches in the bedroom, make it your mission to move in some way. Whatever gets your blood pumping and juices flowing! Vogue Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour, plays tennis in the mornings, while super producer Shonda Rhimes starts her day with a “dance party with Beyoncé”. As for me, if I’m working from home I try to get out for a walk or run in the woods with my dog before sitting down at my desk. It always helps to clear my head.
5. Check your emails before you reach the office
Many of us check our emails as soon as we open our eyes, which isn’t a good way to start the day. It frames your mood on someone else’s terms, and can lead to a lingering sense of anxiety. However, it is a good idea to check your emails before you get to the office. It allows you to prepare for the day ahead, address any serious issues, and shuffle priorities or delegate actions if needed. If you tend to get sucked in and derailed by your emails, set a timer. I check my emails, Twitter and LinkedIn when I get out of bed over a coffee or green tea, often before the rest of the house are awake. This gives me a limited window to do it, before getting on with my day.
6. Be present with your loved ones
Mornings can be a rush, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be quality time. My twin girls are very early risers, so my day always starts with family cuddles in bed (and I wouldn’t have it any other way!). As a mum of young children, I always feel like I am juggling work, family, and home commitments. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to achieve the work-life balance I set out to. But, regardless of what happens on any given day, I’m always mindful of trying to be both physically and emotionally present in their lives. The time we spend together in the morning clears my head, energises me, and reminds me of what I’m working for. After all, I couldn’t hope for anything more than to be an inspiration to my daughters as both a mother and a business woman.
While there’s certainly no right or wrong way to start your day, what’s important is to find a routine that works for you and stick to it as much as possible. As a woman in business, you’ll reap the benefits – both professional and personal.