Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it. – Old proverb
There are only a few things you can do each day that make a real difference.
Everything else is secondary and must be delegated, postponed, or simply ignored. Your business and future depend on this; the failures and successes in your life are determined by the things you consistently do.
Frankly, most things you do each day don’t really make a big difference. Email? Probably not. Social media? No way. Sending copy-pasted messages to prospects on LinkedIn? Yeah right.
There are only a few ways you can spend your time that significantly help you achieve your business goals. This starts in the morning before the hustle of your day starts to take over.
The world’s most successful entrepreneurs focus on just a handful of activities that truly help them make a difference (and make money). If you don’t know what these activities are, you’ll probably never reach your potential as an entrepreneur.
Here are eight things aspiring entrepreneurs like you should be doing before 8:00 am that directly make a difference in your work.
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1. Brush Your Teeth
If you want to consistently wake up early (and not fall back asleep), there’s no better way to wake up than splash ice-cold water on your face.
I’d never been able to wake up early consistently (in college, a 9:00 am alarm for class was unspeakably early). But after I read Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning, where he suggested brushing your teeth as the number one way to wake up, I was delighted to see: it was working.
For the first time in my life, I was consistently waking up at 5:00 am to work on my side business before I started my day job. Honestly, the hardest part was getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom to brush my teeth. But once I brushed them…I wasn’t going back to sleep.
It became a ritual, a trigger for my mind that helped me wake up to start focusing on work.
2. Pray/Meditate To Center Yourself Before People Need You To Do Things
Like most people, I have a meditation app on my phone I almost never use.
But the reason you need to start your day through prayer and meditation isn’t to tell people on social media “I meditated this morning!” (Don’t be that person.) It’s to center yourself, so you can say no to the things that don’t matter.
When I was a new, aspiring entrepreneur, I was teaching English to elementary kids in South Korea. It was an exhausting, busy job – not to mention having to navigate a different country, language, culture, apartment, and schedule.
But I woke up early each day to work on my side business. The first thing I did (after I brushed my teeth!) was wake up and pray, giving my day and my work to God and centering myself before all the craziness started.
You get what you tolerate, so stop tolerating mediocrity and junk. If you wake up and immediately start reacting – to your phone, social media, emails, even chores around the house – you’re already starting off your day the wrong way.
Your day usually goes the way your morning goes; be sure to start off right, centering yourself before you do anything.
3. A Food/Drink Ritual That Primes You To Focus
Much like brushing your teeth, making some kind of food/drink becomes a powerful ritual that primes your mind to enter flow states and get into work-mode.
I’ve carried this ritual with me for years. It’s one of a handful of things I do every single morning that helps me get into work-mode.
For me, it was two things: make a protein shake and make a pot of coffee.
Soon, I barely even realized I was doing it. “Once you make a habit, you don’t have to waste mental energy deciding what to do,” wrote best-selling author David Kadavy. The habit primed me to get ready to work.
Make a food/drink order (ideally a healthy one) shortly after you wake up. It will become yet another trigger to your mind that it’s time to focus and work.
When you’re trying to focus in the early morning, you need all the help you can get.
4. Morning Journaling To Drain Negative Emotions and Get Clarity
Here’s a true, funny account of an actual morning I had where I was so distracted, so annoyed at one of my South Korean students, I simply couldn’t focus on anything other than how annoying he was.
But a quote from Julia Cameron changed everything. The advice I gave my readers was the same advice I was giving myself:
“Julia Cameron once described morning journaling as ‘spiritual windshield wipers.’ By dumping your immediate thoughts out on paper first thing in the morning, you clear away the dirt that’s obscuring your view.”
Most people wake up with these kinds of distractions on their minds: an annoying coworker, an aggressive boss, a stressful work assignment. It’s no use trying to wake up early and focus if you can’t drain these negative emotions out.
And the best way to do that is through morning journaling.
No matter what goals you have or enterprise you’re creating, morning journaling is an excellent strategy any aspiring entrepreneur can use to gain clarity and focus on what truly matters, not the buzzing distractions trying to side-track you.
If you need some actual journaling prompts, here’s a short 20-minute journaling exercise that will help.
5. Your Power Activities
As I’ve said before, if you don’t spend most of your time doing your main power activities (the things that directly help you succeed and make money), you probably won’t ever become a successful entrepreneur.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs have busied themselves with dozens of different tasks they should’ve delegated long ago: sales, website design, social media, video editing, and hiring.
If you want to become a world-class entrepreneur, you need to spend as much time as possible on your power activities. Everything else can wait.
For me, I realized my three power activities were: writing really good articles, creating really cool products/services, and then selling them to my readers.
I started delegating everything I could and spending as much time as possible on these activities. In just a few months of consistently working on my power activities in the mornings before my day job, I was seeing 100x and even 1000x more success than before.
Best of all, you can do these first thing when you wake up; “eat the frog,” as the old saying goes. Once you do those tough things in the morning, the rest of your day is easy.
Spend your time doing important things, things that actually make a difference in your business.
6. Keep Your Phone, Email, and Social Media Closed
If there’s one thing, one big thing that always stresses me out, it’s checking my email and social media when I wake up.
Most people check their smartphones before they even get out of bed. (And people wonder why they’re so distracted and stressed all the time.)
If there’s one thing you really want to do before 8:00 am, it’s to keep all these pieces of media closed. That early in the morning, they’ll only serve to distract you and get your mind fixated on junk that you can’t control.
I was a chronic check-their-phone-when-they-wake-up person. (I’d check my phone every time I woke up during the night, too.) I hated it, but I did it constantly. There was never anything good when I checked.
But after just a few weeks of not checking my phone in the mornings, I felt liberated and, dare I say, happy. I was getting less interested in email and social media, recognizing that no, it didn’t really have any meaningful effect on my life. Email could wait – my power activities couldn’t.
Don’t check your phone. If you have to use electronics, only use the ones that help with your power activities.
7. Write Down Tomorrow’s Schedule So You Already Know What’s Coming
I had to do a little digging, but I found my actual schedule, broken down in five-minute increments, back when I was consistently waking up at 5:00 am before work:
It’s hard enough to wake up early. It’s almost impossible to have a productive morning without already knowing what your schedule is. (Try organizing your calendar at 5:07 am when you’re cold, tired, hungry, and sleepy.)
The reason I was able to consistently do great work in the early mornings is that I went to sleep knowing exactly what I was going to do when I woke up.
Soon, it became automatic. The routine actually energized me, and I looked forward to building momentum each morning.
Make sure you know exactly what you’re going to do before you go to bed.
You’ve got to wake up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction. – George Larimer
8. Reward Yourself With a Cooldown Zone-Out
As you can see in my old schedule, I gave myself lots of breaks in the morning. It was the only way I’d be consistent.
Humans aren’t logical creatures; we’re emotional ones. If I asked you to tell me how to lose weight, you’d probably have a good idea how: eat smaller portions, eat healthy, exercise, and be consistent.
Duh. The problem isn’t information, the problem is being willing to do the work.
The best way to stay consistent and put in the work each day is to give yourself a break. Having a strong rewards system is critical: if you reward yourself for good behavior, you’ll probably repeat that behavior.
You’re not a machine. You need to give yourself a break; every morning you consistently wake up early to work (which is incredible), you need to reward yourself. In Anders Ericcson’s book Peak, he described that the world’s best athletes and entrepreneurs needed extended hours of play and zoning out after a long work session.
You’re no different. As Scott Adams wrote in his book How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big, the best way to stay consistent is to always ensure you have enough energy left over to do it all again tomorrow.
So play video games. Watch dumb YouTube videos. Buy an $8 cup of coffee. Completely detach from work because it’s time to go to your day job.
For now. At this rate, you’ll be a full-time entrepreneur working for yourself in no time.