Update: This story was originally published on January 31, 2016. Updated by Sacha Strebe.
When you're hungry for success, sometimes it feels as though that ever-elusive carrot at the end of your career rainbow is teasing you. Your journey there can seem long and arduous, but it wouldn't feel so great once you reach it without a little hustle on your way to the top. Right? So our tip is don't stress, because if there's one thing we've learned about success, it's that it takes time.
While grit, passion, and confidence are powerful traits, there's one habit you need to adopt first if you want to triumph in life: a morning routine. We love hearing about how successful women start and end their days, but once you get to the p.m., the most efficient, motivated women have already tackled the most challenging things on their to-do lists and treated themselves with love. Keen to know more? This time we went beyond the morning routine to find out what all successful women do before noon. Ahead, learn how to structure your a.m. hours.
A to-do list can become monstrous very quickly; in fact, most successful people skip them. We've personally fallen victim to many. Instead, think big and prioritize the most annoying or difficult task first. That way, by noon, you've jumped the biggest hurdle. By getting through the most time-consuming roadblock on your list, you can feel the weight fall off your shoulders. You'll breeze through the rest of your day's tasks. Well, that's the hope, at least.
Whether it's practicing meditation, having a hot shower, doing yoga, or taking some silent time for yourself, having a morning ritual is key to starting the day off on a strong foot. It also signals your body to focus and start the day in a centered place. All it takes is just waking up 10 minutes earlier every day to practice a few relaxing rituals to start your day stress-free. This self-care will set you up for an energizing and productive day.
Your most productive time is the morning, specifically the "golden hour" after the mind has cleansed itself through sleep. Don't waste this high-productivity period by sitting through an endless block of meetings. Tackle your to-do list, work on a problem, or just think. Save your meeting times for after lunch.
Our own Clique Media Group co-founder and chief ideation officer, Hillary Kerr, goes one step further. "I avoid making decisions first thing in the morning, especially outfit decisions," she told MyDomaine. "I try to prep as much as possible the night before—planning tomorrow's outfit, packing my gym bag, making lunch—so that I have less to do when I wake up. The more streamlined my morning process is and the fewer decisions I have to make, the better!"
Follow-up is the difference between mediocrity and excellence. If you don't follow up after meetings, emails, phone calls, or meaningful conversations, they can get lost in the noise of busy schedules. Make a point to follow up with colleagues and loved ones. They all appreciate the time you spend to check in.
A to-do list is nothing without prioritization. MyDomaine lifestyle editor Sophie Miura inverts her schedule and writes her to-do-list at night. If you do this, take time in the morning to separate them into categories of priority. Divide your list into four quadrants: 1) urgent and important, 2) urgent and unimportant, 3) not urgent but important, and 4) not urgent and not important. Make sure you're prioritizing categories one and three and dismissing category four.
The snooze button is lethal, especially when pushing it becomes routine. Katherine Power, co-founder and CEO of Clique Media Group, told MyDomaine she avoids it at all costs. "Don't hit the snooze button. I read on Byrdie.com that this was a big no-no and can make you drowsier throughout the day," she says. She's right; National Geographic's "Sleep in America" study found that delaying your day—even by a mere 15 minutes—changes your sleeping pattern, thereby throwing off your body's natural circadian rhythm.
To avoid the temptation when your alarm goes off, simply wake up. Either jolt out of bed straight away or linger in bed with your phone for a good 10 minutes, but don't let your eyelids stay closed. Before you know it, another hour or two will have gone by, and your entire day will be thrown off.
This isn't a vanity drill. Exercise keeps your body healthy and your mind clear, and it's an excellent way to combat stress. You don't have to start with a daily hourlong routine. Start with 10 minutes until it becomes a daily practice. Then up your duration once aerobic consistency is a part of your routine.
But if exercise is hard for you first thing in the morning, then make it fun like Kate Hudson does. "Dancing is the thing for me," she told Self. "It just makes me feel so much better. You know how you see dancers always crying? It's like reconnecting with an old self. Sometimes I'll lock myself in a room and dance. I'll turn music on as loud as possible and just get weird." Whatever works, we say.
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This story was originally published on January 31, 2016, and has been updated by Sacha Strebe.