Our daily rituals are a big part of our lives. You might consistently hit the alarm clock for five more minutes, or you might already be awake and finishing your five mile jog. Our daily rituals don’t just set the tone of our day, they can also make us happier, more productive, and more successful.
So when it comes time to really look at your daily routine, what better role models are there than some of the most creative and successful people? Here are five tips for daily structure from these individuals:
1. Tackle Emails in the A.M.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is a notorious morning person. One of Cook’s first stops in the morning, before hitting the gym, is his email inbox. Playing catch up to your inbox can eat away at productive hours during your day, and even distract you from the important work you should be doing. This is probably why Cook begins sending and responding to emails around 4:30 each morning.
If you want to break your email addiction and get ahead of your inbox, it might be time to set the alarm clock a little earlier and tackle your inbox first thing. As a bonus, it can also help you prioritize your day and send you into work knowing the challenges you’ll need to tackle.
2. Give Back Before Work Starts.
You know the saying about waking up on the wrong side of the bed? What if you could turn a bad day around early by doing a good deed before the work day even starts? It’s likely the goodwill and positive vibes would last you at least until lunch. Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, tries to start each day by doing good. Grant says it’s motivating to start the workday by helping someone else, instead of focusing on your own problems.
While diving into your inbox, look for a good deed to do for the day. This could be as simple as making an introduction between two contacts or as complicated as putting together an office charity drive. Start your day by putting something positive out into the world, and likely you’ll receive some positive karma in return.
3. Drink Your Coffee
While caffeine can give you a productivity boost, you don’t want to drink so much you end up a jittery mess and crash before your evening commute. However, a cup or two of fuel before lunch can give your workday a nice jump start.
4. Get Moving During Lunch
Use your lunch hour wisely — connect with coworkers and incorporate a little physical fitness. Former National Geographic CEO John Fahey had a standing invitation for workers to join him on his afternoon bike ride. Getting some physical exercise in the middle of the day is a great way to clear your head, feel refreshed, and get some endorphins working to help you kick the post-lunch sleepiness. Fahey also used this opportunity to get to know his employees in a less formal setting than a monthly meeting.
If you’re better on two feet than two wheels, perhaps lunchtime is the perfect opportunity to take a nice walk to clear your head. Throughout history, some of the most successful people have used walks as a reset button to help step away from a problem and come back with a fresh perspective. Beethoven, for instance, took frequent walks to get his creative juices flowing. In fact, walks were extremely popular with composers from Mahler to Tchaikovksy, who felt great misfortunes would befall him if his normal two-hour walk was cut short even by a few minutes.
5. Ask Yourself a Self Improvement Question Before Bed.
The hallmark of a truly successful person is the never-ending quest to be better than the day before. This is probably why Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin ended every day by asking himself the same self-improvement question: “What good have I done today?”
There’s certainly some logic to asking yourself the tough questions right before bed. Research has found we’re more creative when we’re tired; therefore, night is the best time for creative thinking. When our brains are tired, we’re not as locked into our usual linear ways of thinking, leaving us to make intuitive logic leaps and allow our minds to wander. Before bed is the perfect time to try tackling a big problem in need of a creative solution.
It’s also a great time to ask yourself tough questions about how you could improve your professional and personal life. To be successful, you can’t follow the status quo. You need to push past complacency and challenge yourself, just like Benjamin Franklin did every evening.
Being successful means finding what works for your daily schedule, but it also means challenging yourself to be better. Using these tips and tricks from those who have already found success, you can improve your odds of reaching higher and achieving greater.