WASHINGTON — The next time you decide to push your pre-dawn workout in favor of pushing the snooze button, know this: General Stanley McChrystal, a retired U.S. Army four-star general, wakes up every day at 4 a.m. and works out for about 90 minutes.
It’s a routine he has kept for the last 30 years, and he rarely takes a day off.
The morning ritual of Michael Acton Smith, CEO of the meditation app, Calm, involves working from multiple coffee shops before finally plugging in at the office. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Marie Kondo’s morning involves a little organization. The author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” said when she can’t pick up around house before leaving, “it’s on my mind the whole day.”
Research shows that morning routines do more than get you out the door and to work on time. Many millionaires confess to starting their days early to get mentally and physically prepared for the hours ahead. Even making the bed each morning is linked to overall success.
“[Morning routines] are all about starting your day with intention and bringing the wins that you get from that morning routine into the rest of your day. So it’s actually a simple process to go through but it can make a big difference,” said Benjamin Spall, co-author of “My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired.”
For the last five years, Spall and his business partner/co-author, Michael Xander, have questioned countless people about their morning routines, and they published these routines on their website and in their book (both share the same name).
Spall said the point of the book and blog is to give readers “a peek inside the busy lives of successful people,” so that if they discover a habit that they think will work for them, they can easily replicate it and apply it to their own lives.
While the published routines vary (some are regimented, others are more leisurely), Spall said they all share similar commonalities. For example, most people with successful routines are early risers (the average wake up time for those interviewed is 6:27 a.m.), and most go to bed before 11 p.m.
If you’re interested in amping up your morning routine to increase productivity and positivity, Spall has a few suggestions. First, he said, keep your routine short and easy to accomplish in the beginning, then grow from there. For example, if you want to make exercise a priority in the morning, don’t start with 90 minutes.
“So many people say when they started out with their routines, they may have only ran for 10 minutes or so, or only meditated for two minutes,” Spall said.
“And once they realized the things that they really enjoyed doing, whether that be meditation or journaling in the morning or getting some work done, they can kind of increase the time they spend on that … and it’s a great way to actually figure out what you like and then make it really easy to stick to it.”
If a goal of yours is to get up earlier, Spall said the best way to do that successfully is to go to bed earlier. He suggests building an evening routine that helps you decompress and wind down earlier than usual. (Hint: Nix the screens about an hour before you want to fall asleep.)
Finally, don’t be ambitious with the number of things you hope to accomplish before starting your day. Yes, squeezing in exercise, meditation, food prep and your beauty routine sounds great, but is it realistic?
“Really, if you just add one thing a week or one thing every two weeks, it will be so much easier to stick to … and you’ll really appreciate it more over the long term,” Spall said.