Win the Morning, Win the Day: the 5 Elements of a Morning Routine

[This article was originally published on Quotable, which can be found here.]

“Win the morning, win the day.” Tim Ferriss

Three months after college, I had a haphazard morning routine. No structure, no routine, and when I hurried into the office I was nowhere near ready mentally to win the day — which is key in B2B tech sales. My results suffered, and after two months of missing the mark, I read everything I could on how business leaders, sales leaders, and professional athletes start their day.

There are numerous ways to structure a morning routine (and well over 100 articles authored on the topic), but for field account executives such as my colleagues and me, the five elements below are the most useful. The key to incorporating each element into your morning routine is consistency, so if it helps, start with one theme and add another each week.

  1. Wake up early. Early to some, such as former Navy Seal instructor and best-selling author Jocko Willink, means 4:30 a.m. Sales thought leader Anthony Iannarino also wakes up at 4:30 a.m. (an interview with Anthony on his morning routine can be found here). Waking up early has been shown to increase performance, and is correlated with having a healthier diet. It also gives one a mental edge over the competition. I personally wake up at 5 a.m., as it allows me to catch a minimum of seven hours of sleep (assuming you hit the hay at 10 p.m. or earlier) — which is the absolute minimum for me — and complete steps 2–5 below, and still make it to the office by 7 a.m.

  2. Make your bed. I’ll admit, this seems tedious, but as former Admiral William McRaven famously said, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task and yet another. And, if you happen to have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that you made and this will give you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” The first thing I do after waking up is make my bed.

  3. Work out. This could include yoga, running, hitting the gym, or doing a class. By working out in the morning, you are joining the likes of Howard Schultz, who goes for a long bike ride shortly after waking up; Jack Dorsey, who runs six miles every morning; and Tim Cook, who is in the gym six days a week. If I’m working out of the office, my workout routine consists of four kettlebell-circuit workouts (comprised of 20 minutes of continuous movement with a 35-lb. kettlebell), and one day of yoga. On the off days, I like to stretch for approximately 10 minutes to stay loose. If I’m on the road, the tried-and-true 30 seconds of sprinting and 60 seconds of mild pace on the elliptical is my go-to, followed by body-weight exercises.

  4. Meditate. Growing up in a rural, farming community in Western Illinois, meditation is a word one hears sparingly. However, after reading that meditation changed the life of the billionaire Ray Dalio, I started incorporating meditation into my morning routine. Even if it’s 10 minutes or less, meditating gives one time to reflect on goals, priorities for the day, and gratitude. I’ve found that a 5–10 minute timed meditation session on Calm is the most effective, as this app provides background noise, as opposed to Headspace, which is completely silent for the most part (in pure silence, my monkey mind wonders). Both are great apps and highly recommended.

  5. Put pen to paper. Get a journal and write down your sales goals and any other distracting thoughts that have permeated for a few days. Wade Burgess, a former LinkedIn executive and CEO of Shiftgig, uses a “roles and goals” methodology when journaling, where he sets tangible, weekly goals for each role he fulfills (father, husband, CEO, and others). For the full breakdown of Wade’s roles-and-goals practice, skip to minute 13 of this podcast with Wade(episode 14). I’ve also authored a blog on how I structure my journal.

This list is by no means all-encompassing. However, these five points have had a strong impact on my sales career and the careers of many others. What does your morning routine look like?