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10 Things that Highly Successful People Do Every Morning

Updated: Jan. 25, 2024

Make your morning—and the day that follows—rock with these tips for a positive and productive morning routine from highly successful people.

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Success is the name of the game

We all want to be the most successful and motivated versions of ourselves possible, right? With these tricks and tips, success isn’t as far away as you may think. After, read up on how one man defines the true meaning of success.

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They wake up from a good night’s sleep

If you want to be on top form in the morning, it’s no good being sleep-deprived. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is one of the busiest women on the planet. In an interview with USA Today, she revealed one of her top tips for getting ahead in the morning: She makes sure she gets a good night’s sleep. Sheryl confesses that de-linking from her technology is hard, but she always switches her phone off so she’s not disturbed overnight. Habits such as lowering the light levels, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and consciously relaxing before bed, can all make a huge difference to our sleep patterns. Then you’re ready to begin tomorrow with a pep in your step.

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They get up early

Oprah Winfrey is a legendary high achiever, and she typically rises by 6 am. When outlining a typical day in her life to Parade, she described how she would arrive her office at 6:30 am. Almost without exception, successful people start their day early. Many say they get up between 5 am and 6 am. Rising early is particularly great for those who work from home or have small children, because they can accomplish work tasks without interruption. Or you might prefer to give yourself time for spiritual pursuits or exercise. Curious what other high-achievers do when they wake up? Learn the morning habits of highly organized people.

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They spend time in meditation

It’s important to take care of your mental health when you spend the day using your brain to its highest capacity. Many of our most successful entrepreneurs turn to meditation to help. In a LinkedIn Pulse article, Jeff Weiner, Executive Chairman at LinkedIn, describes how using a meditation app helped him establish a daily meditation routine. He feels this brings great benefits to his mental well-being.

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They avoid reaching for coffee immediately

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, revealed on Product Hunt that his morning routine includes rising at 5 am. He follows this with exercise and meditation, before heading to his favorite coffee shop for breakfast. It may seem tempting to reach for that enlivening cup of coffee the minute you roll out of bed. But successful people know that caffeine isn’t the best solution to getting going immediately. This is how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.

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They have a healthy breakfast

Another high-achieving executive who has a morning routine is Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Branson is well-known for paying attention to his eating habits. In a Q&A session for American Express OPEN Forum, he says he usually has fruit salad and muesli for breakfast. If you’re pushed for time in the mornings (and who isn’t?), it’s tempting to skip breakfast. But eating a healthy breakfast is an important way to fuel your body for the rigors of the morning. Whole grains, fruit, and slow-release carbohydrates like oatmeal, are all good options. Try one of these seven breakfasts you can make in minutes.

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They incorporate exercise

We all know how important exercise is to our physical and mental well-being. But exercise doesn’t have to be a traditional activity. Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of the hit shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal told Vulture on Facebook that her morning routine includes a “dance party with Beyoncé.” A few minutes of lively dancing is an awesome way to kick off your day. Getting your exercise done early even has many benefits for your brain. Studies have shown that your metabolic rate is enhanced throughout the day following morning exercise. You can reap the rewards of an early workout with an improved sense of well-being. And you won’t end up skipping your workout because you’re busy later in the day.

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They dress simply

You may not think that choosing what you wear is important to your morning routine. However, eliminating stress about clothing choices can make a difference to your performance later in the day. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is famous for his dressed-down style of jeans and a sweatshirt. But this is not a coincidence. Zuckerberg explained to the Independent that he prefers to save his mental energy for important decisions and vowed to simplify his morning routine by always wearing the same outfit. Barack Obama’s suits and the iconic black jeans and turtleneck sweater of Steve Jobs are similar examples. While you may not be able to turn up to work in jeans and a T-shirt, you could simplify your wardrobe. Color coordinating, mix-and-match outfits will make choosing your clothes quicker and easier. Organizing your closet helps makes the process easier too. These are our favorite rules on what to keep and what to toss.

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They set their priorities for the day

Successful people don’t waste time getting going. Time is precious, so being organized in the mornings is a top priority for people like Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and Thrive Global. Huffington likes to use her early mornings to set her priorities for the day. She told My Morning Routine that she wakes up early, exercises, and sets her priorities for the day. This allows her to tackle things in a timely and orderly fashion. Having a clear plan for the day (even if it gets derailed), is good practice because it helps keep us on track and doing the important things. Lack of focus means we get distracted by less critical tasks, so we are less productive. These are 8 reasons you can’t focus and what you can do about them.

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iStock/Xavier Arnau

They find their own rhythm

Opinions vary about the best way to get started on work tasks. Some advocate doing taxing activities first and leaving lesser tasks until later. Other advise doing the most important task first. But some people find that working up to things gradually works better for them. Gretchen Rubin, founder of The Happiness Project, starts her working day by tackling routine tasks like checking emails or social media. In an interview with Today.com, she says that she find it easier to do low-grade tasks first. This psychs her up to tackle more difficult jobs afterward. By finding out what works best for you individually, you can harness your productivity more effectively. Experiment with which approach suits you best. Try these tips to be more productive in your first hour of work.

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iStock/Izabela Habur

They make multi-tasking work

Research by Stanford University has shown that multitasking makes you less efficient when you’re working. But there are ways to make multitasking work for you in your morning routine. According to the New York Times, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, combines running on the treadmill with watching DVDs. This self-confessed reading addict found an ingenious way to pursue his quest for information while working out at the same time. Making the most of your exercise time by listening to podcasts or audio books, is a great way to increase your knowledge. Listening in the morning gives your brain time to digest what you’ve heard throughout the course of the day. These are the best current podcasts you’re not listening to—but should be.


USA Today: “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks personal tech”

Parade: “A Day in Oprah’s Life”

LinkedIn Pulse: “What Makes a Truly Great Product Great”

Product Hunt: “Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square”

American Express: “Richard Branson On the Business of Life”

Vulture (on Facebook): “Shona Rhimes Morning Routine”

Independent UK: “Mark Zuckerberg on why he wears that same T-shirt every day”

My Morning Routine: “Ariana Huffington”

TODAY: “‘The Happiness Project’ writer on ways to change your routine for a happier morning”

PNAS: “Cognitive control in media multitaskers”

New York Times: “So Bill Gates Has This Idea For A History Class…”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest