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- Many successful people are known to maintain strict morning routines.
- Benjamin Spall interviewed 300 highly successful people to learn about how they run their mornings.
- In a recent piece for The New York Times’ Better Living section, he wrote about why morning routines are important – but concluded that we often go about them with the wrong mindset.
You don’t need to wake up at 4 a.m. every day, without fail, to be successful. That’s a major takeaway Benjamin Spall found from interviewing 300 highly successful people to learn about their morning routines.
Spall spoke to the likes of fitness expert Jillian Michaels and Kevin Cleary, the chief executive of Clif Bar & Company, on their morning routines for his book, “My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired.”
He wrote about the overarching similarities in a recent piece for The New York Times’ Better Living section. Here are two particularly important takeaways.
It’s okay to mess up
“Nearly everyone I’ve talked to said they don’t consider one, two or even three missed days of their morning routine a failure, so long as they get back to it as soon as they can,” Spall wrote. “They recognize that sometimes they’ll miss their routine, and that’s okay.”
Take productivity and time management expert Laura Vanderkam, the author of “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” She told Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz that she doesn’t have a strict morning routine, though she does aim to exercise and journal every day.
Part of the reason she shirks any hard schedule is that we tend to fall into a 24-hour trap. That means we often believe that, if something isn’t a constant in our daily lives, we may as well not do it. “People get so hung up on the idea of daily rituals that they just don’t do it at all,” she previously told Business Insider.
Thinking in terms of weeks, months, or years is more beneficial and takes the pressure off ourselves to, say, meditate every morning for 30 minutes.
“I give myself a break and take the longer view of what’s happening,” Cleary of Clif Bar told Spall. “If I can’t do my workout later in the day, I’ll tell myself I’ll just pick it up tomorrow or the next day. Six months from now, my body or I won’t know that I missed a day.”
You don’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne all wake up incredibly early.
We’ve come to equate productivity and success with waking up at 5, 4, or even 3 a.m. That’s discouraging for people whose brains function best at night; about a third of people are night owls.
But Spall found that we should establish a routine that works for us and our bodies – not the other way around. The underlying point of a morning routine is that you find your own “sweet spot” so you can enjoy your mornings, Spall wrote.
The average person Spall interviewed wakes up at 6:27 a.m. That’s definitely on the early side, but that happens to be what works for them.
“It doesn’t have to happen at 5 a.m. to count as a morning routine,” Vanderkam previously told Business Insider. “It’s about having something that makes you feel like you started the day in a way you wish you started the day.”