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 I tried the morning routines of successful people and now I feel exhausted

By Joy Molan


Joy tried out the morning routines of successful people to see how the world's elite business people increase their productivity.

I am the first person to admit that I am not a morning person. Perhaps the best way to describe my natural morning routine is “adolescent”. When I’m left to my own devices, I can sleep until 2pm...easy.


Living with my parents and commuting to London for my grad job last year involved waking up at 6:15am every day, which was a struggle to say the least. So, I told myself that when I moved to London, I would use my reclaimed mornings wisely. I would do yoga, exercise or make nourishing, Insta-worthy breakfasts. Now that I live in London, the reality is somewhat different. I fall out of bed at 8am to make it into work for 9am (just).


I'm as susceptible to the "self-optimisation" trend as the next 20-something woman and this slack approach I'd been taking to my mornings simply wouldn't do. This led me to various blogs and newspapers publishing lists on the habits of highly successful people. Every successful person featured in these lists sets themselves apart from the rest of us by what they do at the start of their day. Not one of them sit around eating coco pops or snoozing their alarms until they really HAVE to get up.


Perhaps starting the day with gruelling exercise and meditation is the secret to a more successful and fulfilling life?


Mark Zuckerberg


Zuckerberg reportedly gets up at 8am every morning and claims that, “the first thing I do is look at my phone. I look at Facebook to see what’s going on in the world. I check my messages; I look at Messenger and WhatsApp”. That sounds pretty doable, although it would still involve a small behaviour change, as I am definitely one of the many young people starting to turn their backs on FB for other social platforms.


This first step proved very easy. I woke up, turned my phone alarm off and swiped open my phone. It felt strange looking at my FB feed. Like the two million people under the age of 25 who are predicted to stop using FB this year, I rarely open the app anymore. I was faced with a slew of engagement photos and adverts for overpriced sports leggings. This left me feeling both anxious and hollow. Next, Whatsapp. Loading…nothing. Why would there be any messages overnight? I am not the CEO of a major corporation. I have about five friends.


Zuck also says, “I try to go for a run or workout, that’s a good way to start the day”. So I loaded up my favourite workout video - “Joe Wicks’ 20-minute abs” - and got my sweat on. Turns out, that wasn’t so bad.  


Finally, to get the complete Zuck experience I had to wear the same outfit to work every day. Sorry readers, but I was not prepared to buy five of the same pairs of jeans and t-shirts for this feature...

Jack Dorsey

Apparently, Jack Dorsey is the Twitter co-founder, worth a reported $2.3 billion. Who knew? This super-successful person, who I didn’t know the name of before writing this article, revealed his morning routine in a Q&A with Product Hunt. He says, “I sleep from 11 - 5am usually. I wake up at 5, meditate for 30 minutes, complete a seven-minute workout x 3, make coffee, check in [with my companies]."


Well that sounds awful.


Dorsey advises using blackout blinds for better sleep, which wasn’t exactly necessary in England in January. When I woke up at 5am, it was pitch black and all I wanted to do was press snooze. But I pushed through, meditated for approximately five minutes before I almost fell back to sleep. I brought forward the coffee in the schedule as I was going to need some caffeine to get through the workout. I powered through the exercise and got to work early and exhausted.


Michelle Obama


Surely these routines couldn’t get any worse? Guess what, they could and they did. According to Taikoo Place, the Former First Lady rises at 4:30am(!!!) every day and works out with her husband (we miss you). The article is light on the specifics of the workout, so I ad-libbed with a bit of “Yoga with Adrien”. Getting up that early was obviously hideous, but the exercise did make me feel lifted. As Michelle notes, she had to motivate herself with the reasoning that if she didn’t take time out for herself, who would?

Kenneth Chenault


Finally, I turned to the CEO of American Express, the card of choice for many flashy millennials, for some life advice. Chenault notes that, “often it’s the things you do before you leave work at night that make all the difference the next day”. Sounds reasonable. He said he writes down the top three things he wants to accomplish the next day every night before he leaves his office. When he arrives the next day, he starts with that list. I have always found that lists are the perfect way to clear a muddled mind. When the tasks at hand seem overwhelming, writing everything down makes it a bit more manageable. Not only did I find this technique helpful on the day I practised it, I also decided to incorporate it into my daily routine. Thanks Kenneth!


What this insane exercise has taught me is that there is no one right way of working that leads to success; even the people bossing it are all doing their mornings differently. For you, adding one or two of these habits into your morning routine might increase your overall productivity. But, for me, a lot of them just left me feeling knackered and reaching for the chocolate digestives. I'm afraid I won't be in a hurry to set the 4:30am alarm again any time soon.

Image by Stefany Alves

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