My most important tasks are to be centered and to make a plan for the day. Otherwise, I feel like I’m playing catch-up all day.
Brushing my teeth and then getting out the door to go sweat and move as if I have to gather the food I intend to eat for the day.
Usually pitching (sales time). I like to put music on and just go into pitch land, sending out email after email. I even track how many I send out. I try to not be sucked into my email first thing, although it’s a daily struggle!
For me, business pitches are slightly overwhelming—I’m doing heavy cold emails and having to pitch myself in unique ways, and it’s a lot to think about. I find that I’m best at this first thing in the morning while I’m still feeling fresh. It’s also a task that takes a long time (to do the research, craft your pitch, send the emails), so I love doing this first thing. I find that if I put it off to the afternoon, I never get it done.
Putting in my contacts, drinking coffee, and picking the top three things I need to do that day.
I don’t see them as tasks but rather as self-nurturing rituals or self-care habits. Probably weighing myself—I do that every day as soon as I wake up. Saying my affirmations is very important as well—the power of words! Also, my skincare routine—I feel the difference if I don’t do it.
Attending to any urgent music correspondence and leaving for the train station on time.
My meditation routine, because it sets me on the right course for the day. I must admit, half the time, maybe a little less than half the time, my meditation sessions are a bit unsuccessful because my mind is so preoccupied, but other days, when it works, it’s a tremendous relief of all petty thoughts.
That’s by far the most important routine for me.
Getting my “me time” in and feeling centered, as well as thinking through how I will prioritize my day.
Getting out of the house without waking anyone up. Getting into a positive state of mind. Deciding what action is going to make the biggest difference, and agreeing with myself to achieve it.
Chill time with coffee and a book, connecting with my wife a bit before she’s off for the day, getting the kids to daycare with the fewest tears possible, and taking ten-fifteen minutes before starting my work to plan things out.
Making coffee, mixing my shake, and grabbing my lunch (in that order). I also grab my hand-written to-do list and my Kindle, if it’s charging.
Writing my to-do list by hand is something I have done for as long as I can remember. I believe that the act of writing a list by hand helps to set things to memory. It also allows me to take the time to reflect and review. I enjoy the act of writing and having a tangible list, as the majority of things I create and do are digital. Paper and pencil feels more accountable to me.
It sounds weird, but washing my face, brushing my teeth, and taking my supplements are super important to me. I feel like they signal that I’ve taken care of myself first and am ready for the day.
Giving kisses to my kids.
Authoring books, writing articles, blogging small posts, and sharing my own quotes. I have four blogs but I only post on one. (I also regularly post small articles on LinkedIn.)
I am passionate about freely sharing my knowledge with the world. I have a quest for learning so I can better understand the world and a thirst for sharing so I can help build a better world. In a nutshell, I have a quest for learning and a thirst for sharing.
My most important tasks are getting my dogs fed, walked, and medicated; helping my kids get ready for school; and making sure I review my patient surgery charts for the day so I know that I’m ready for their operations.
- Quiet time with myself and the rising sun.
- Drinking lemon water before I eat or drink anything else.
- Being available for my family members and ensuring they have what they need to get their day off to a great start.
Feeding the dog, drinking water, making coffee, texting my husband, checking my email, and working out. Pretty much in that order.
It helps me have a great day if I sit down with my family over breakfast. Chatting about what we all have going on, while holding a warm cup of coffee, is a happy place for me.
After breakfast I shift gears into work mode, but I sometimes get one more breather. I typically ride my Vespa to work, and whenever possible, I get one last dose of clarity by riding a slightly longer route that takes me down along the San Francisco Bay.
Exercise, particularly as I’ve gotten older. I think the big thing for me is stamina and mental clarity—this entrepreneur thing is grueling. I would also say that exercise helps me to be less reactive to things that don’t go as expected. I still sit too much—I do about two hours a day at a standing desk, but still a lot of sitting—I focus a great deal of my weightlifting and yoga time on “unsitting”—working on my hips, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. I don’t think I would be able to walk if I didn’t focus on these parts of my body.
Another thing I failed to mention—my wife and I recently purchased a home in the mountains and will likely end up there. Life at 9000ft and the hiking, skiing, climbing, and biking that comes with it requires staying in shape, and that drives a lot of why I do what I do as well.
Most important in the early morning is having quality time with my family. We have this brief window when all four of us are at home, and we won’t all be together again until the late afternoon. So I want to be sure to sit down with them at the dining table for breakfast, and I want to help my younger son get ready when he needs it, help my wife when she needs it, and walk with my older son when I can. That’s number one.
After that, the next priority is trying to do the routine. When I do my routine, I’m well set up for the day. Then I decide what’s most important, and try to get right to it. Nowadays, that’s usually writing.
The morning is my time to get caught up and ready for the day. I hate going in to my day with the feeling of being behind. The most important task for me in the morning is to make sure I’m mentally ready for the day ahead.
I’ve been traveling a lot for my book tour, and now that I’m home, resting up is priority number one! That said, I realize that it should be, whether I’m coming back from a book tour or not. Generally I’m aware of which tasks outside of my daily routine are “important” and which tasks outside of my daily routine are “urgent” (this is talked about at length in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). I’ll try to tackle the “important” stuff first… unless the urgent one is kind of fun and will give me an “easy win” to go about my day.
Meditation, writing, spending time with my girlfriend, and stretching, which is also a big part of my morning.
As you get older you notice that your body doesn’t automatically work as you’d like it to all the time, so you have to find ways to keep it up. Hitting the gym three days a week is also important for this.
When I arrive in the office it’s usually to review the day, schedule/cancel/reschedule as necessary, and then reply to anything that needs my attention.
Getting out of the house unscathed, meditating, and writing.
My morning routine is the most important task, for me. It gets my day going.
Water. Workout. Coffee. Instagram. Brush hair (extremely optional).
First priority is probably letting the dogs out so they don’t have an accident in the house, because once everyone is up it’s chaos. Next is turning on the espresso machine for my husband—it takes a while to warm up and I like having it ready for him when he comes downstairs. Then it’s having some quality time with my husband, either by jumping back in bed to relax for a few minutes or by having coffee on the porch. And finally it’s getting everyone dressed, fed, and into the minivan to get to school.
Getting in the right frame of mind through journaling, exercising, and writing.
The meditation, yoga, and riding combination I mentioned above are the most important. My body seems to need it. I notice a difference when I don’t maintain the routine.
I would say showering is up there! A lot of people shower in the evening, but I really need to shower in the morning to wake up. I like to have at least a full hour and a half to myself before I walk out the door. It helps me to get organized for the day, and I like having that time to myself before heading out.
Becoming mentally alert and setting my intention for the day. I reflect on what actually needs to be done (as opposed to the multitude of things that make demands on my time) and how best to accomplish that. I also think about what I will do that day to take care of myself and the people in my life.
It depends on the day. I generally theme my days. Some are focused on managing and supporting my awesome executive team. Other days I’m working on product, putting together documents for strategy and process improvement, or digging into customer research or product metrics to find new opportunities. Once a week I have “deep work Wednesday,” when I aim to have little to no meetings and use lengths of unscheduled time to read and reflect on high level vision and strategy.
I try not to have any important tasks in the morning. Maybe going pee?
Alignment through Jewish prayers and scriptures and then alignment with my checklist for the day. Every day is different, and I need to be ready for a diverse set of issues presented by the diverse projects I work on. Getting aligned and ready is key.
My most important tasks in the morning are getting my boys (and myself) ready for the day.
That’s the essential question, isn’t it? Generally, my most important tasks are tied to whatever project I’m working on at the time.
I get up early to write, but I suppose you could say my most important tasks are getting my kids to school and walking my dog. How can my projects take priority over taking care of others?
Making the bed is key for me, and having breakfast with my fiancé.
Reviewing my inbox and calendar is essential so I know exactly what I’m walking into each day and can feel fully prepared. While I don’t consider it a task, exercise is also one of the most important things I do in the morning to ensure I go into the day with a clear head.
I would characterize myself as a morning person, so I’m my sharpest and prefer to make my most important decisions and have my most critical meetings in the morning.
Making sure there are no fires to put out work-wise, packing my bag with everything I need for the day, and tidying up the house before I leave so I don’t come home to a mess.
Pray, stretch, and sip tea.
Being alive. Shaving my head. Taking a shower. Taking my pills. Considering how not to think about Trump.
Check email and Twitter to make sure I have a handle on anything that might be urgent. Eat breakfast. Make myself presentable for the day.
Exercising and meditating. After that, expressing myself through my creative work. Oh, and I always have a shower right before I eat breakfast.
Prayer and meditation.
Praying. When I miss my morning prayer my entire day is off.
Coffee. Followed by prioritizing the day’s activities to make sure I get everything done that I need to.
Going outside, getting my nutrients in, and organizing my apartment. Making sure I feel refreshed and mentally prepared to take on the day!
Taking care of my physical and mental health, and spending some quality time with my family before the rush of the day. This is extremely important to me because it helps me to be more creative, energetic, focused, disciplined, positive, and outgoing. Being fit and healthy helps me cope with all the professional demands of my career.
Having some quality time with my daughter.
Setting myself and my kids up for success for the day. I know that having a calm morning will make everything good until I’m back home from the office. That gives me the comfort that allows me to work for many hours without worrying about them.
Whatever my biggest project is. When I’m writing, it’s finishing the next article I need to deliver; when I’m working on a product, it’s designing the next feature; when I’m networking, it’s building lists of people I need to connect with; when I’m speaking, it’s outlining my next keynote.
Getting out for that morning dog walk is very important to me. The dogs are the priority. However, even when I’m not with my dogs, I like to go for a morning walk on my own. I always listen to books or podcasts when I walk alone.
It’s important for me to eat breakfast with my two sons. They are growing up way too fast!
A big portion of my marketing and branding is done on social media. I’m particularly active on Instagram - I think it tells the most complete story and has the most diverse search system to be able to find useful information.
Well… getting the new puppy outside to relieve himself is currently my most important morning “task.” But after that, checking on any urgencies that have come up that might need to be addressed is a close second. While I have a phenomenal team at work, as FranklinCovey’s Chief People Officer, I feel ultimately responsible for the hundreds of talented associates at our company. So in that respect, I’m “on call” when anyone needs me.
I’ve tended to feel that my most important morning tasks are having a bit of time with my kids before getting them off to a good start for the day, as well as jumping on any important news story that has a mental health aspect to it. Balancing both of these is sometimes tricky. If big news has happened, then I might get less kid time; if there is an issue regarding one of my kids, then I might be less attentive to work issues. Mostly these two have coexisted pretty well, though.
Funny. I’ve never thought of it as a task, but the most important thing I do each morning is steady myself by not allowing a sense of urgency to penetrate. Every once in awhile I find myself in a spin cycle of urgency - a sense of internal panic that the list of things to do is lengthening no matter how hard I try to control it. But I learned long ago (even though I occasionally forget!) that this sense of urgency is nearly always illusory. I am more productive when I am not operating with urgency.
I remember years ago reading a passage in a book about Thomas Keller in which the author marvels at the pervasive sense of calm in Keller’s famous restaurant The French Laundry. How could such incredible food, the author wondered, prepared at such exacting standards, be produced in such a calm environment? The irony is, of course, that the calm environment was the reason for the productivity, as it revealed total mastery of the task at hand. I strive for that same sense of calm mastery, and I occasionally even achieve it.
Waking up and moving from a horizontal position to standing. I’m not trying to be funny or morbid, there’s also a religious reason. As Jews we begin the day by “thanking G-d for restoring my soul and breathing life into my nostrils.” This may sound religious, but for me it is an acknowledgement that I was granted another day to show love to my family, appreciate my colleagues, and try to make the world a better place. Corny, for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Getting my scripts written and getting my body energized and ready to go on the air. I need a clear head and early-morning energy, so the morning workout and meditation are crucial.
Narrowing down my top three priorities for work that day and deciding which activities to do with my son. I find it’s easier to focus and tackle the day in sprints that way.
Relaxing before getting out of bed. Snuggling with my cat Phoenix or, if she’s up for it, my other cat Neveah, who comes in to lick my arm for about five minutes. Snuggling with or, if he’s busy on a work project, hugging my husband. Checking email.
My most important task in the morning is getting my kids to school on time!
I recently launched my second book, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One, so I enjoy doing interviews, speaking gigs and strategy sessions related to that. I also run a private community called Momentum for side-hustlers and solopreneurs and love doing twice monthly Q&A calls and workshops for them. In general, I make sure that each of my strategic projects gets at least 30 minutes of focused attention before I do anything else, particularly more reactive work where others are setting the agenda, like email. I keep a daily to-do list in my monthly Moleskine planner notebooks, so I always know what the priorities are before I start the day.
It varies from day to day. I’m a big believer in prioritizing, being prepared, and being precisely on time for whatever I’m doing. My weakness is organization and administrative tasks. I’m more interested in action.
The morning hours are my most productive, so I like to schedule bigger projects at the beginning of my day, along with projects that need creativity, since my mind is freshest in the morning.
Making coffee, taking my daily photo, journaling, playing with my cats, eating breakfast, talking to Logan—my husband—about the day ahead, and going to CrossFit.
Journaling and meditation. Those are my non-negotiable, must-do-these-every-day rituals to start my day right.
Taking care of my kids and pets.
Meditating, writing, reading/studying, and drinking a cup of coffee!
My priorities in the morning are to make sure quip’s public channels are looking good, our website is stable, I’m not missing any important emails, and I’m prepared (and the team is prepared) for any urgent meetings or deadlines that day.
Honestly, feeling prepared for the day. If I can feel like the chaos is at least known, I can dive in with more composure.
Thanking God for our blessings. Hugging and kissing my family. Getting my mind and body taken care of first, so I can crush it when I get to my desk.
Hugging my wife, going to the gym, and getting ready for work. Every Monday at 8:15am I have a meeting with our CTO, and every Tuesday at 7:00am I have a call with our China team. Mornings are a big part of tackling the day with the right mindset and energy.
Wake up (sometimes harder than others). Change diaper. Get dressed. Feed everyone, including the dog. Plan with my husband how we are going to divide and conquer (usually based on who is feeling the most tired). Take probiotics.
Writing and praying.
Exercising, moving, eating, and setting my initiatives for the day.
I will often do administrative tasks early in the day because I’m not all that creative in the morning in terms of writing. I will do some outlining or planning in the late morning, though, because I find that does get the creative juices flowing.
I’m using “horizontal theming” from 9:00 through 10:30am every weekday morning for online writing (that includes blog posts, email newsletters, anything written online) so I can get that out of the way early before clients and meetings start to creep into my day. I’ve usually “primed” these the previous day in Evernote so it doesn’t take much to start the writing process—even at 9:00am for a night owl like me!
Email is another thing I’ll tackle in the later part of the morning so I can get through it and create whatever actions need to come from messages so I can get out of email and into the work I need to focus on.
Quality time with my kids. It gives me energy for the day, and I feel terrible all day if I miss it.
Eating breakfast, and making sure I write for myself before I write for others.
Coffee. After that everything gets a little easier.
I do money-making tasks first and “housekeeping” tasks second.
I write every morning. Every. Single. Morning. I am a firm believer in doing your most important creative work first thing, and for me that is typically writing if I’m working on a book. I try to knock out my daily word count before I do anything else. I learned this habit from Stephen King in his book On Writing.
Getting everyone out the door in a timely fashion; I think the most apt metaphor for my mornings is that of being shot out of a cannon.
Finding quiet time for gratitude journaling and reading, working out, and walking my dog (more quiet time for big thinking).
For my family: getting the kids out and where they need to be in a non-frantic fashion. We’ve actually developed a pretty great rhythm there. For me: scanning my to-do list and calendar first thing is important.
Getting in my workout. Second is executing Plan A for my day while being open to adapting it as needed as the day unfolds. The most important thing is to be present in the moment. I don’t often do this well, but my intention is there and that is key.
Meditation, exercise, a large and healthy breakfast, and then meditation again.
Work. I squeeze quite a bit into that 2:00am(ish)-6:00am(ish) window, so I like to make it count as much as possible.
Due to the time difference in working with our UK team, it’s most important to respond to and clear emails that have come in overnight.
Drinking coffee, eating a good breakfast, and setting aside some “me time” to use as I please (usually I process images, read something interesting, or just sit and think) before refocusing on what I need to accomplish that day.
To check my emails and schedule.
- I make sure I’m out the door early enough that the morning haze is still in me. That state, between sleep and the rest of the day, is important for my writing.
- I make sure to somehow leave a little love residue behind at home. I give my fiancé a kiss while he’s still sleeping, or I leave a note on our dry erase board on the fridge, or I put a secret note in his wallet.
Every day is different. I skim through my to-do’s (I use a Bullet Journal) to see what’s on tap for the day, and then I look over my Apple calendar, which I share with my business partner, to see what collaborative things we have going on.
The activities that seem to take up the most of my time are writing blog posts and coordinating projects with some of our freelancers. But it takes a lot of uninterrupted time to develop new sewing patterns, so I try to set aside long blocks in my schedule for pattern development, writing, illustrating, and proofreading, etc.
Often those parts of my job get pushed off to last, which can be frustrating since that’s really the most important thing I do.
Breakfast for my dog, Cajun, always happens first thing!
My most important task is setting the stage for the day. If I’m going to have an amazing day, I need to engage in good self-care at the beginning of it - that means breakfast for my mind and soul and breakfast for my body.
After that, it’s all about eating the frog: I prefer to tackle the biggest, hairiest, or most complicated of my tasks in the morning.
Since I’m the CEO, my day is mostly meetings. That probably sounds terrible to most people, but I love it! I really enjoy everyone I work with, and basically I get to chat with them all day.
Just figuring out what my goals for the day are. I’m a big believer in short bursts of deep work, so really it’s about “What do I want to tackle today?”
When I say deep work (coined by Cal Newport), I really just mean a state of flow. Anyone who programs knows what that feeling is like. Things just click: You look up at the clock, and bam! Three hours have passed! Really it’s about being purely focused on the task at hand—be it responding to emails, creating a new presentation, writing an article, or anything else that requires me to really concentrate. Attention residue is real, and multitasking is the devil when it comes to being highly productive.
I always check in with my daily to-do list that I made the night before. I review it and re-prioritize it if things have changed in any way. It’s important for me to anchor my day with this list so that when other things pop up, I always have my list as a form of accountability. If it’s not on the list, I really have to think if I should do it or not.
Planning my day. Being a freelance working mom without any help and with a partner who works and travels a lot requires a lot of planning. Every morning I need to plan my work in detail. I also plan meals for the family and synchronize with my daughter’s activities.
Feeding my son and guiding him into his first nap, then working on my muesli sculptures and mobilizing myself to meet people other than my family members.
My most important task in the morning is anything that fits into “content creation.” Most of the time this is a Beyond Diet newsletter, an editorial for our Beyond Diet monthly program, or an article we will use for social media.
Sometimes it will be research for any of those items, but most of the time I will do research during the day and save the writing portion for the early morning hours. The early morning is when I do my absolute best writing, probably because there are zero interruptions during this time.
Whatever my most important project is at that time, my task is to work on it for one hour.
The most important task really varies morning to morning. Sometimes it’s to respond to editors’ emails. Sometimes it’s to work on a draft. Sometimes it’s to revise a feature. Sometimes it’s to catch up with the news and find a column idea.
Drinking water and taking a moment to feel thankful for another day (this is cheesy as fuck, I know, but I’m trying to answer honestly here). I lose perspective quickly and tend to get lost in the unimportant details of my life. Morning is when my mind is quiet and clear, and when I’m able to see how lucky I am to have another day ahead of me.
I like to have this moment every morning, even if it’s brief, while making tea. I tried to stop drinking caffeine for years, but I’ve given up. I love it and always will.
Connecting with my husband (at the risk of making everyone who’s reading this barf). My marriage is the absolute best thing in my life. I waited to get married until I was 40; I definitely found the perfect person for me, though, so I enjoy it. I commit to and create time around this relationship. Because I run my own business and am working nonstop, I’ve spent the last year trying to align myself with the things I love the most.
I also like to stay connected with my passion of helping girls reach their full potential, so I love to read inspiring stories about girls doing big things in the world.
It depends. It could be anything from reviewing marketing materials to reviewing contracts for a new project.
I think the most important task in the morning is getting yourself in the mindset to have a productive day.
That is different for different people, but I feel “optimized” when I combine a short workout, meditation, and reflection on my priorities. Do what it takes to get yourself in the right mindset, especially if you’re working at startups or in other volatile environments. It will help you deal with whatever comes your way.
My most important task is fitting in a workout, then showering and eating.
Water and writing. If I nail those first two things early in the day, then everything just falls into place.
Work out, drink water, have a snack.
Right now it’s pumping, as it’s my son’s main source of nutrition and it would be really uncomfortable to work out in the morning if I didn’t. Beyond that, it’s probably the sheer act of getting out of bed.
I’ve felt so sleep deprived since my son was born that it’s a constant battle not to just go back to sleep and skip my routine. I feel so much better once I get to the gym, though. It’s just the first half hour that’s particularly rough.
Taking care of my family. Gym. And coffee.
- Getting out of bed and settled at my desk by 8:00-ish,
- Slowing becoming less cranky,
- Processing email,
- Processing MarketingProfs’ Twitter notifications,
- Writing something every morning (after 2, 3 above),
- Becoming fully awake and able to recognize that most people are good and decent and there’s nothing to be cranky about, really.
Writing. I produce several articles each day, including personal development content for EarlyToRise.com, fitness and nutrition content for TTFatLoss.com, and online business-building for InternetIndependence.com. I’m also writing two new books (one on personal development and habit transformation, and the other on exercise for fat loss). In a good day I’ll write about 5,000 words. Later in the morning I have several meetings with team members in our Denver office.
I like to think of the morning as a time away from ‘tasks’ or anything work related. How I start the day shapes my response towards the happenings of the rest of the day.
Because of this, I would rather not think of work or tasks, but instead focus on my mental and physical health. I enjoy the calmness of the morning to spend time with music, my lady, and our puppy.
I’m thankful to be in a place where I can have a morning routine filled with things I’ve chosen to do. I realize that such liberties are not available to everyone. I’m thankful that I can eat healthy food, work out, and have the support of a wonderful partner.
I would say that my most important task is my twenty minutes of silence in the morning. It’s been crucial for me with regards to planning my priorities, especially in an industry where there are so many moving pieces. You want to enter the day with a clear idea of what your top priority is.
Other than that I still try to keep everything fairly routine. During the week, I like to keep decisions to a minimum so I can use that energy to focus on the main choices. For example, there are places I eat where I’ve ordered the same thing for years. I would rather just concentrate on creating or being around creativity during the week and use the weekends to shake things up.
90% of the time, it’s writing - it’s where I can make the most impact and leverage my best skill to help my company, so I’ve tried to structure my days so that it’s the first thing done before checking email, before the rest of my team is awake, and before I do anything else that could derail my day.
Even if my afternoon is clogged up with meetings or interviews, I know if I write every weekday morning, I am making my company better.
My morning routine is pretty condensed, so honestly everything is important.
I’d say my top three tasks are making the bed, taking a hot shower, and having my coffee and pre-workout fuel. I remember when a university commencement speech made national news because the speaker, a former Navy Seal, talked about the importance of making the bed to start off the day. I totally got that because this has been a habit of mine since I was a kid. I think I actually forwarded the speech to my husband, if I remember correctly. But, yes, making the bed has always been an important morning task. I literally can’t leave the house unless it’s done.
My most important task in the morning is making sure that I’m ready to conquer my day.
Like I said, it starts with attitude. You can’t expect to wake up with a bad attitude and have a good day. It’s all mental. So when you wake up, smile. Appreciate that you are alive and breathing for another day. Once your mind is right, your body will follow. You have to mentally feel good before you physically feel good.
Making my bed, meditation, and drinking around sixteen ounces of water with a whole Meyer lemon squeezed in to balance my pH.
Email, back exercises, hygiene.
Telling my wife that I love her. It’s not a task, but it’s important.
Set an intention for the day; decide what one creative thing I’ll do for myself that day; get to work on time.
I think setting up my planner for the day and praying are pretty much the most important ones since they are the rudder that steers the ship.
Using just ten minutes in the morning to do some goal setting and organize the day ahead is indispensable. Without them the day is a lot tougher to get through. I think some of it has to do with putting the day in place in my imagination.
As I’m writing down my to-do list and my goals for either the day or the future, I imagine what I want my day to look like, and what kind of life I want. I’m pretty detail oriented, so I think about how the desk should look while I’m working, the words for emails I have to send, the daily tasks like grocery shopping, and of course what I’m going to wear to do the events of the day.
When I was racing bikes in my early twenties I was taught that high-caliber athletes use a kind of mental walkthrough to plan out their games, shots, or a race to help them perform on their actual game days. I think setting up my planner kind of goes along the same line as that. It’s a mental rehearsal of a day and then when situations come up I’ve already figured out how to handle them. It also creates a rhythm or pace to the day. Instead of just reacting to the things that happen, you’ve thought about what you really want out of the day and can put the things that move you forward or matter most first.
Of course, there are days where nothing goes as planned and those ones you just have to deal with as you get them.
The only things I really need to do in the morning is fulfill orders for my ecommerce stores and answer any questions that my virtual assistant couldn’t handle.
Since I’m currently living in Thailand while my customers are all in the United States, I get to wake up as the day is finishing back in the states which allows me to make a quick phone call at the end of their day if needed, but other than that everything can be handled through email which they’ll receive the following morning.
The actual real most important task in the morning is making sure I am mentally and physically healthy which is why these morning routines are so important.
Exercise and meditation.
To relax and enjoy the morning, and have a good start to the day.
I don’t know how people can have a good day when they rush around in the morning. Maybe this two or more hours in the morning thing is my meditation process. Regardless of how crazy the day’s schedule is going to be, or even when I know I will have to pull a fourteen-hour work day, I still keep this relaxed morning routine.
When I see people who look like they have good jobs eating breakfast from a paper plate on the platform, I feel sad…
Laying my bed, eating breakfast, and meeting deadlines.
Getting my dog out on his walk. Nobody likes secret pee puddles!
Doing my morning practices, yoga, and meditation. Creating a clear schedule for the day, syncing it with my husband and business partner, and making sure that I am well prepared for the day, whatever I might be doing. My days vary a lot, so it very much keeps me on my toes.
My most important tasks are usually my biggest tasks. They usually involve client work, so require the most effort and concentration. That’s why it’s best to do them in the morning when I have the most energy.
If I can take care of something in less than five minutes, I’ll do it there and then to get it ticked off, otherwise I’ll work on the important to do’s for the whole morning.
I try to spend interactive time with my family, and enjoy these moments we can have together. I can often get a little bit of time to talk with each kid before we go our separate ways. Then, once my workday starts, I schedule my toughest work first.
I crank out drafts or do heavy editing at 8:00am; lighter stuff and phone calls need to happen later. When I’m scheduling my days well, I leave big open chunks of time in the morning so I can concentrate, and then I start phone work after 10:30. I don’t always stick to this, but I try.
Breakfast with Addison. I love that we get to eat and hang out and read together before she starts her day. It completely grounds me for the day ahead.
No matter how the day goes, no matter what issue pops up, no matter how the business goes, I have this wonderful start to my day where I get to know my daughter more, or get to share something new with her. Getting to my email can wait until after. I’m already dreading the day when she’s off to college and we don’t have this :)
But also, taking a shower is super important to me. Not for the reason of just getting clean, but I make sure I use that time to improve something I’m thinking about. Most of us know by now we get our best ideas in the shower. It’s the white noise, the privacy, being on our feet. But there’s also something magical that happens when we talk to ourselves. So I’ll use the shower as this private place to actually talk to empty space. I’ll pretend I’m giving a speech, and turn that into a blog post. Or I’ll pretend I’m talking to someone about an idea or important email reply I need to make, and then I’ll write it down later. I think most of us squander our morning ritual showers, and could actively turn them into even better spaces for our creativity.
My most important morning task is taking my asthma medication. I was a San Franciscan for eight years and the privilege of living in one of the world’s most beautiful cities came with a very serious compromise; I had to accept the existence of mold in my home (and my lungs).
Apartments in the city are often poorly ventilated and the air is always damp and humid thanks to Karl the Fog. After years of breathing in the mold spores that predictably grew in the back of every one of my apartment’s closets and bathroom ceilings I eventually became asthmatic. The moldy damage has been done, and moving to Los Angeles didn’t exactly provide the clean air my lungs so desperately desire. I have an inhaler I use once before bed and again first thing in the morning so I can continue to breathe throughout the day with ease.
My tasks vary. Having just launched my poetry collection last month, and finding myself in a writerly “terra incognita” of my own (between visits back and forth from my hometown of Toronto in Canada, where I first launched my book, and Philadelphia, where I’m currently looking to expand my audience) my work as a “writer” has become more curious: while the book itself is no longer being written, per se, the work of actively organizing and producing new opportunities for the book to get read across borders and amidst various literary circles has just begun.
I see readers as the co-creators of the books writers write. Apart from the occasional moment of internet wanderlust, social media sites have proven to be a necessary component of sharing my work with the world, alongside the work of my publicist at Inanna Publications. Quasi-luddite or not, I am very thankful for the magic of the internet.
I don’t think of myself as superstitious, but I do derive some comfort from checking things off a to-do list. I like to think my overachieving nature has given me a productive edge over life, and often my physical energy seems to exceed the limits and limiting space of writing at the desk. Along these lines, I think the idea of what writers do, is especially misunderstood. We sit at our desks but are ultimately nomadic. We may be more inclined to domesticity, but inside our minds are a whole set of other rooms that need to be tended to. Many of us, while city dwellers, are admirers of the sacred beauty of nature, live in the shadows of Thoreau.
If this sounds too romantic or strange, it is; it is a strange world writers inhabit, being both in the world but ultimately part of several. I try not to let “later” things interrupt my morning flow; phone calls, bills, repairs, shopping, cooking, and all without a car; because being present is most important to me in the early hours, especially if I have somewhere I need to be later on. Even if I find myself contending with a prodigious supply of creative or kinetic energy, or the opposite - feeling less-than-lucid, or more tired than usual, a burn-out on the horizon - I try to hold onto a meditative perspective in the morning. This could be actual meditation as an exercise, or light reading, or quiet, positive, deep thinking; in any case, it always means reminding myself to carpe diem.
Definitely reading. This is what jump starts my whole day with ideas and inspiration. I typically read news, but sometimes I’ll read a long-form piece that I had saved to Pocket.
Check what’s happening with my team on Slack.
It is very important to plan my day.
I set boundaries around my health and wellness, and I am selective about the social events I attend. I use Evernote to plan my day. I prioritize the top three items I must accomplish that day, and I try to do something social each day (which could be as simple as grabbing coffee with a friend).
I aim to tackle my most challenging projects in the morning, as that is when I am most productive.
Starting the day together as a family and chatting over breakfast before we all head off in different directions.
Get out of bed, have nice hair, get to the studio at a decent time.
Incorporating movement, indulging my brain in something intellectual, and connecting with the people I love.
Connecting with my family and myself before we go on our separate ways, syncing schedules with my husband, and setting an intention for the day.
After everyone has gone, exercise and painting are my most important tasks!
In the morning I look at all my P1 (Priority 1) tasks and pick the one or two that I’m going to get done that day. It’s also the one I usually report at team standup in the morning, so the rest of the team knows and holds me accountable.
It’s definitely the quality time I spend with my girls while having breakfast. All of us are full of energy and happy to chat.
I tend to be in a better mood when I’m productive (I can feel this, but my Exist data also confirms it’s true), so getting important things done early in the day sets me up well.
Writing early in the morning starts my day off well, as I’ve already accomplished something important for myself before I hit the shower. After that my day changes depending on whether I’m working on client work or Exist.
Every morning, I have a checklist that I mark off. It’s the same every day, and reads:
- Morning Pages
- Reading & Writing
Those activities are the most important of my day, the Must-Do items. After I complete this list, I make a second list with my daily tasks. Each task gets a time limit, and I use my timer to stay on track.
Taking care of the people and pets that I love most, whether that means making Julia coffee or breakfast or just running around with Hope outside for a bit.
Those to-dos are far more important than checking on Instagram comments. Business wise, making sure that content is ready to go for the day and that the next day’s posts are lined up and almost done is probably the most important thing.
As copy and pasted from the “Morning Ritual” event description on my calendar from 10:00am to 12:30pm each day:
- warm water, lemon, turmeric, and raw honey
- green juice
- morning pages
- make fucking magic
To feed the kids and try to keep them quiet so my wife can sleep in a bit longer. Once I get going on work my top task is to check in with all my teams to make sure they aren’t waiting on anything from me, or needing help in any way.
Most of the people I work with are on the East Coast, so they have been at work for quite a while before I start work. Checking in with them is always at the top of the list after family time.
Controlling the five inches in-between your head. No one can take away your attitude or desires away from you.
Seeing to work email and calls.
These days I really try to focus my mornings on mentally preparing for the day. I’ve heard so many people say, “Do your most important work in the morning,” but that just doesn’t feel true to me. I used to force myself to tackle huge tasks as soon as I sat down at my desk until I realized the ‘productivity experts’ probably aren’t experts on my personal productivity.
I ease into my morning work now, tackling “medium” or time sensitive tasks, and then working on important, big picture stuff in the afternoon after I exercise and eat lunch.
The meditation, yoga, and free writing 1,000 words. I feel like this powerful trio helps me to start the day in a mindful way.
The yoga helps me to re-connect with my (often achey) body, the meditation and free writing help me to get my (somewhat over-analytical) brain to chill out a little, and together they make a huge impact on how the rest of the day goes.
Heaven help those around me if I skip out on all three for too many days in a row!
Not sure if you can call them tasks, but I always make sure I have breakfast and coffee.
My main morning priority in the morning is to not forget anything and to be on time!
Brushing my teeth and stretching my body.
The biggest task is to try to keep my headspace from being invaded by the outside world; to be alone with my own thoughts before I can sit down and make something.
Exercise, breakfast, and spending time with my wife and dog before we head out for the day.
Work-wise? Doing my edit plan and reading the news. I like going into my morning meeting knowing exactly what’s on my plate. Life-wise? Spending time with my guy and my pup.
It’s not a specific task, but rather to keep my discipline. As I’m writing this I’m still sleepy because my body isn’t used to the ‘waking up early’ thing.
Making sure I properly say goodbye to my wife and kids. Kisses, hugs and I love you’s all round. It might sound sickeningly sweet but when it comes down to it my family are the most important thing to me.
Writing, that’s the real work. I find that showering and getting ready first helps me prepare and face it professionally, so I suppose that is part of it too.
My most important task in the morning is getting to work. If I’m working on a deadline (and really pushing it) or I have a sudden burst of creativity, I may immediately skip to work over breakfast.
I would say my number one priority is making sure our youngest dog gets outside before she poops in her crate and tries to hide it by eating it.
Getting down to inbox zero. And coffee, lots of coffee!
Exercising and getting ready for the day. Tiring my body is the magic that allows me to sleep and wake earlier. Spending some time preparing coffee or tea also sets my mind to work. Since I work remotely, this is crucial to make me have a productive work time.
Workout, workout, workout. Since I’m an online illustrator and sit in front of my Mac all day, I need a lot of physical exercise beforehand.
My most important task of the morning is my writing. I’ve noticed, though, that there will be stretches of days or weeks when I’ve got great stuff to write about, and then other stretches when I can’t seem to find anything.
I listen to what my body and mind are telling me, so I’ll write when I feel like it and avoid it when I don’t. I don’t want to force myself to do something I don’t want to.
To roughly plan my day. I try my best to set myself up for success and only assign manageable tasks for the day ahead, but if I don’t succeed I’ll improvise and revise my plan the next day.
Definitely shower. That’s an absolute must. Also breakfast, practicing gratitude, and writing.
My most important tasks are drinking lemon water, meditation, and exercising. Doing this ensures that I’ve taken care of myself, and I can focus on other things for the rest of day.
Well, at least I know I’m writing and what’s more, since the launch of my site, I haven’t missed a day. This is largely due to the fact that I’d let people down if I didn’t write, akin to the workout-buddy analogy. It’s worked. My commitment has turned daily writing into a habit, something I’ve always wanted to succeed at but never have until now.
The earlier I wake up, the more I can get done usually. I tend to focus on writing for the blog, planning future products and marketing strategies, and reviewing some of my goals/to-dos in the morning. Then I execute on the more pertinent tasks immediately after this when I am most productive, and well informed.
Taking care of the dog first thing is the most important. He’s been known to pee in the house if he has to go and feels like we are ignoring him. Not cool, Tank!
The first priority is making sure the rest of my family is ready – which includes their emotional well-being.
My second priority is taking my ‘emotional temperature’ for the day. If I’m feeling less than optimal, then I’ll read Baltasar Gracián’s The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence or some of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.
It depends on the day. I generally try to do the most important thing first each day.
It’s really important for me to plan my day.
When I arrive at work I write a list of tasks I want to accomplish that day. I usually start with the most difficult task and go from there. Checking in with my colleagues is also a vital task that needs to be completed in the morning as things can change so quickly when you work for a startup.
My number one priority is taking my dog out. That can never go by the wayside, since she’s indoors during the day. Next would be my morning coffee.
Writing is always my priority, but after that and to borrow a phrase that I read on this site, it’s the ‘big ticket’ tasks. Two or three items that are either bothering me or are important because they’ll move things forward.
Making sure Dex starts his day off in a relaxed and routine way. He’s a puppy, so routine is super important and plays a big role in his behavior. If these things are thrown off, it can sometimes mean a wonky day for him, which ends up affecting my day — not the ideal situation.
My next high priority is organizing my to-do list for the day. I would die without Wunderlist.
Brushing my hair. I’ve just gotta brush my hair. I don’t care if a war breaks out, I’m brushing my hair.
All of them. They are all vital to my entire day and my sense of wellbeing.
I start by plotting out what I want to accomplish that day. I’ve recently adopted the habit of planning my day, and then removing 3-5 things from the list. I want to feel calm and productive at work, not stressed out and overwhelmed. By focusing on fewer items and doing them completely, I find that my work-day is easier and more fun.
The most important thing in every day is to write. I’m usually working on a bunch of freelance pieces at once, as well as one longer project (like a book or personal essay series). I also aim to blog regularly.
Reading back my journal entries from time to time, I often have a focus on whether or not I worked on music in the morning. If I don’t do this, I seem to call the morning a failure.
Aside from this, I think the meditation is really important to me too.
Definitely some coffee and a shower are non-negotiable items. The rest I try hard to get, but sometimes have to go for days at a time without! Those are far more stressful days, and less possible as I get even a small bit older.
I manage a few sites, so there’s making sure that they’re up and running smoothly, and I take care of any support issues if there’s an emergency.
But for the most part, as a self-employed freelance content creator/manager/digital ronin, the most important task is to “sharpen the saw” – get myself in a state of mind where I can handle whatever task and seize whatever opportunity is about to come my way.
Well, my shower definitely feels like the kick off of the day. On days that I don’t shower in the morning (which are rare! Even if I showered the night before I really need it to feel fresh and wake up), I definitely have a harder time getting started.
Apart from that I don’t feel like some tasks are more important than others! The fact that I need to do all of those things was the reason for creating a routine. Not following it will inevitably mess up my day a little bit.
I need to get some exercise, with running or working out (or both) working very well as I have to push myself to physical pain and experience discomfort which makes the rest of the day a piece of cake.
“Eat That Frog” is an old saying: “If the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!” My frog is physical activity.
Getting my animals fed and happy.
Pet care and making the bed. The pets don’t let me forget, and the bed doesn’t either. I can’t stand to leave the bed unmade.
The most important thing in the morning is managing my to-do list and planning my day. I don’t function effectively without a plan and schedule, so getting centered on this each morning is the most important task for me.
Making coffee and making the bed.
When the bed is made I feel like my world is clean and orderly and I can focus all my attention on my work. My morning cup of coffee is the most beautiful thing; after I drink it I feel powerful and prepared.
I regard coffee as one of my top priorities, with this also adding a little ‘luxury’ to my crazy life. Next; checking Gmail and social media platforms, as they are my lifeline to work opportunities.
Working out, reading for pleasure, blogging, writing my goals for the day, thinking creatively, and reflecting.
Figuring out what I’m going to write about that day, so I can think about the topics while I do the tedious tasks I have at hand.
Getting the kids ready for school. Getting some coffee. Working out.
In that order.
Breathing gratitude, lighting an incense, and affirming good thoughts.
Getting to work while it’s still quiet so I am happy in my environment. I have dyspraxia, so organisational and awareness levels are tricky for me. I need time for my cognition to kick in, so I don’t cause anxiety for myself.
Write, edit images, and schedule a post for the day on my websites.
Making myself a cup of coffee and surrounding myself with the things that make me happy! It’s important for me to keep myself happy in the morning, because it will lift up my mood throughout the day.
On university days, I like to read over lecture notes before arriving at class. On work days, I review my calendar and my to-do list first, then once in work I clear out menial tasks first.
1) Kissing my wife and kids good morning, 2) taking my little girl out from her crib and giving her breakfast.
The tasks I consider most important are self care, cleaning, and planning. As long as I get these done in some way, shape or form, I’ll feel accomplished.
Checking e-mail, planning my day, and having a cup of tea.
Wash up, eat, apply make up. All concrete tasks, all essential to having a 100% functional Caroline.
I have no qualms about going without makeup, but it makes me feel more put together, like I’m putting my game face on. And really, it’s just light stuff with SPF in it as I’m very fair skinned.
Recognizing and honoring my natural energy flow, and rehydrating.
Workout, meditate, eat a good breakfast, free write a thousand words, and try knock off my key task for the day.
Prostrations and meditations, or my workout.
If I do these first, I become balanced and grounded. I find I’m able to focus 100% on any work tasks when needed, and relax completely when it’s time to relax.
I’m no good at working in the mornings, so before I start anything my most important task is precisely my morning routine, to set me up for the rest of the day.
If you couldn’t tell, my morning revolves around the kitchen. It’s the one thing I need for myself in the morning - and that is to create something nutritious for myself (and others, if applicable) to hold me over until lunch. It is honestly the most calming part of my morning, and it gives me satisfaction when my creation comes out tasting great! Things get a little more grandiose on the weekends, but I keep things simple on week days so I don’t get too carried away.
The second thing, is watching an episode of whatever animated series my boyfriend and I are in to at the moment while we eat breakfast together. We are both cartoon animators, so it just feels natural starting our work day out with cartoons! It’s research, I tell you, RESEARCH! :)
Getting SOME form of exercise in and eating a good breakfast.
To make sure the start to the day sets me up for the remainder of the day. No rushing around, I try and get prepped the night before if I can (making packed lunches, etc).
The main task for me is making coffee, which is close to a ceremony, the rite of passage that brings me to consciousness. Having my coffee in one hand while holding a book in the other are the two major tasks in my mornings.
Lacking that, I will be a grumpy being for the day.
I don’t think my most important task in the morning is really about me. With kids, mornings can be hectic. I like to make sure my wife and son are happy and ready for their days. That to me, is important and makes me happy.
In terms of to do lists, I used to be disciplined at writing them down but, as a student of simplicity, I now just think of the one or two things that I know I have to do that day. In most cases, after I have got my children off to school, I try to write for a couple of hours before I hit the phones or email. I close down Chrome and use Word. I find it much less of a distraction that way. If I get a call I will try to take it but not always.
It is to write and write and write. In my day, I never get as much to write as I would like, and so I am constantly, desperately trying to write as much as I can in that sliver of time before the rest of the world awakes.
Right now, I am mostly focused on writing for my blog, short pieces that I can begin and finish each week. For me, it’s very important that I use my mornings to start and finish things. It is very easy in that half-sleep of dawn to dawdle, and so it is also very easy in life to dawdle on your dreams, never actually making them happen. My mornings are a microcosm of what I hope to do with my life: start things, finish things, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from moving forward.
The writing. I love writing, but it is still a practice — like running or yoga — and every morning, it is a deliberate, conscious choice.
I’m a svelte (slim, slender – ed.) guy, so food is vital for my day to begin on the right note. Besides fuelling up, I find that getting myself into Guerrilla when I can first thing in the morning legitimately sharpens my mind and body for the day ahead.
I learn something new about myself there regularly, and channel that into the day ahead for helping others.
I stretch almost every morning. It just makes my body feel better; nothing super intense, just some basic stretches to get my body opened up.
Most mornings I’ll also use a neti-pot to open up my breathing, and I always feel better after I’ve showered. That said, my most important task in the morning is eating. If I’m hungry, I’m distracted, and the last thing I need is MORE distraction.
Praying, seeing my husband out the door, working out, and not getting to work too late.
Eating. Drinking lots of water. Ideally, moving my body somehow – preferably with a sweat, but sometimes with a walk.
Lately I’ve been paring down my to-do lists from enormous sets of tasks to a simple post-it note with my three “big ticket” items that I really want to work on. Those things that if nothing else gets finished, but I worked on that, I’ll have a sense of deep satisfaction, challenge, accomplishment, or personal happiness. Listening to my gut to discover what those things are has been an interesting exercise, and I’m getting better at finding clarity amidst all the noise of our current connected world.
So in the morning, I jot down those three things, and then I try to get one of them done before 11:00am. There’s something exceptionally satisfying about making progress on your big ideas early in the day.
In a related note, I’ve tried to stop taking any meetings or calls before midday so I can close the door and get those big things done.
Reading the local and national news and looking through my schedule to determine the meetings I’ve got for the day. Asking myself questions along the lines of “If I’m speaking… am I prepared? If I have board meetings… have I prepared?”
My most important tasks in the morning are to evaluate and check in with my body/mind. I use that time to be quiet and calm and see how I am doing, what I need, and to tend to it to balance out for the day.
I never know until I begin my day.
Some kind of writing needs to happen in the morning for me to feel like I’m not wasting my time. Morning is prime productivity/creative time for me so I try to do my best to not squander it. Sometimes that’s writing for school or an independent research project, or for my website.
Sorting out my tasks for the day!
Drink something. Eat something. Not let myself get distracted from the things I actually need to be doing.
Bonus points if I change out of my PJs before noon.
It varies so widely. The toughest one is getting my son out of bed. He’s twelve and, left to himself, he’d stay up until 6:00am and then snooze until about 2:00pm.
I’m a liberal parent but not that bloody liberal.
Being unstructured. I live a very structured life and I’d like to think that I am a very organized person. I like to do certain things in certain way, at certain time, with certain people. However, until 11:00am or so, I like to untether myself and just go with the flow. That’s not an excuse to be lazy, but it’s important to just give myself the space and time.
I’m still very much deciding if I’m being honest. Waking up and deciding to face the day still feels pretty important. Anything that happens after that is largely a bonus.
Work-wise I’d say it’s important to figure out how best to spend my time that day. Free writing helps with this. Usually the most important tasks involve seeing to emails from paying clients, making sure their requests are taken care of, as well as answering any possible leads.
The first thing is to refocus on the things I want to accomplish for the day – usually this is one or two crucial tasks. Then everything is just reactive and mercurial to the demands of the day.
Meditation. Dharma study. Yoga. Eating well (home made, no processed food, local produce, living food, superfood). Writing poetry. I write poetry most days. Sometimes copiously. I have over 1608 unpublished poems as I write this. I’m working on changing that.
I work best in the mornings, at most tasks.
Jotting down what I can remember of my dreams in a notebook as part of a project I’m involved in. Checking that the cats Wentworth and Gawber (named after two areas near where we lived in the UK) are around and fed; Greek yogurt and fresh cat biscuits are usually served.
Shower and teeth cleaning come high on the list as well. Me, not the cats. They see to their own.
Writing, writing, and writing. If I don’t write in the morning, then no matter what else I do that day, I don’t feel productive. The only exception to this is when I’ve completely finished a draft of a project, in which case I don’t write for at least a few days, feeling a bit mentally exhausted, but I read a lot more.
My most important tasks in the morning are going for a walk (or a ride from now on) and breakfast. I want to make sure that after eight hours asleep I get a good shot of fresh air and that for the rest of the morning I’m not thinking about food.