CEOs are often shooting for the stars when it comes to their daily business aspirations. And their morning routines are the launch pad that determines whether or not they are going to achieve the altitude that they need.
To discover what it takes to set the proper mood for the day, both personally and professionally, I talked with three high-performing CEOs who take their morning routines very seriously. For anyone looking to develop a productive morning routine, these three business leaders provide illuminating insight into how to start each day moving in the right direction and with the right energy.
Sleeping in is not an option
While each of the three CEOs with whom I spoke with have a unique approach to mornings, they all start early to make sure that they do not fall behind.
“I usually wake up around 7:00 AM and immediately start going through emails and responding before I even get out of bed,” says Ekin Ozlen, CEO of the high-science beauty brand KERACELL. “Being on the West Coast I constantly feel like I’m playing catch-up because I’m 3 hours behind what’s happening already on the East Coast.”
For Ekin, her early morning email messages are just the start of a day filled with communication aimed at keeping KERACELL strong.
“I’m constantly on the phone,” Ekin explains. “My main role is making sure that everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing so that we have continued momentum and continued progress for the brand.”
Jasmine McCall, CEO and Founder of the Jazzy Mac Brand, starts her day at 6:30 AM when her newborn gets his morning bottle.
“After I put the baby down for a nap at around 7:30 AM, I spend 30 minutes mediating,” Jasmine says. “Then I spend 30 minutes journaling about my business goals and milestones.”
Like Ekin, business communication is also a big part of Jasmine’s mornings. Beginning at 9:00 AM, she spends an hour sending and responding to business emails. Then she spends an hour reviewing and responding to comments on her “Life With jazzy Mac” YouTube channels, where her lifestyle videos have garnered more than 1 million views.
For Dr. Liia Ramchandra, Founder and CEO of gluten-free skin care and cosmetics brand EpiLynx, an early morning start is the key to getting focused and mapping out a successful day.
“I wake up at 5:30 AM, before my kids wake up, to get ahead of the day,” says Dr. Liia. “I manifest the first thing in the morning, imagining how my day will look and thanking the universe for it. After that, the first thing I do is to check my emails, orders, Amazon account, and customer comments.”
Stay focused on your goals
Once they get their days rolling, all three CEOs regularly refer to a detailed list of what they need to accomplish. By staying focused on the most important tasks, they keep themselves from getting derailed by distractions and losing the ground they secured by getting up so early.
“I am the queen of to-do lists,” Dr. Liia confesses. “I have in my phone notebook a to-do list for each and every day. Each day I make sure I set realistic expectations for what I want and more importantly can accomplish each day. Keeping to-do lists and breaking my tasks into small compartments is truly the only way for me to survive and, at the end, to accomplish a lot by taking each task one at a time.”
Jasmine also looks to lists to keep her day focused, making sure to remind herself of daily goals as well as daily tasks.
“I always like to have daily goals to keep me on track with content creation and any revenue goals that I set,” Jasmine explains. “I have multiple to-do lists. The two lists I use the most are my Business To-Do List, which outlines what emails I need to send, what videos I need to record, or what I need to post on social media, and my Personal To-Do list, which outlines daily reminders like going for a walk, ordering household items from Shipt, or doing tasks for family members.”
Ekin relies on her to-do list to help her with something she calls “Sunday Blues,” which she explains as high anxiety inspired by worries about everything she needs to accomplish during the week.
“The only thing I have found that chills me out is to make a list of everything I need to do for the week,” Ekin explains. “My anxiety is greatly reduced by performing this simple step. I know it sounds so simplistic, but I think it takes all of those things that are piling up in my brain and sets them somewhere else so that I can relax.”
Once her to-do list is established, Ekin makes sure to prioritize the items that could hold up others on her team. Her day is not complete until she has provided her team with the information that they need to accomplish the tasks before them.
Be kind to yourself when you fall short
Good leaders know that the best-laid plans do not alway come to fruition. Things happen that are disruptive, no matter how early we get up or how well we plan. For each of these CEOs, perfection is something they know they need to hold loosely.
“I used to worry about having the ‘perfect’ business, one that included the perfect website, the perfect email campaign, perfect landing page, etc.,” Jasmine confesses. “Then I realized that it is the consumers and subscribers that determine what they like. So it became important for me to stop focusing on perfection and instead focus on ‘refining’ what I already have based on customer feedback and behavior.”
Dr. Liia echoes Jasmine’s feelings about having grace for yourself when you do not make it through your to-do list.
“There are always a lot of important tasks, but you need to choose ones that are truly the most important,” Dr. Liia explains. “When it gets to be 4:00 or 5:00 PM, I always look at the list and decide what can be done the next day, next week, or next month. It is super important to forgive yourself if you do not accomplish everything that was planned that day and make a new deadline.”
Ekin admits that she puts a lot of pressure on herself to get things done and that falling behind is something that she struggles with accepting. Still, at the end of the day she tries hard to accept that doing her best is the best that she can do.
“If I were to give anyone else advice, it would be to take it one day at a time and be kind to yourself,” Ekin says. “We have this one life to live. We can only do our absolute best and that’s all we’ve really got.”
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