A POSITIVE morning routine is something many of the world’s successful people have in common.
Oprah Winfrey rises early every morning to meditate, Steve Jobs would start at 6am by looking in the mirror and re-evaluating his goals, while Julie Bishop describes her morning run as akin to brushing her teeth.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your career, resisting the temptation to hit the snooze button can pay off if it means easing the morning rush and ensuring a positive start to the day.
For Melbourne-based head of diversity for Bupa, Carol Corzo, it’s a matter of perspective. Rather than dreading the sound of her morning alarm, she accepts it as the herald of another blessed day. Carol arrived in Australia as a teenager after spending her childhood growing up in a dictatorship in Chile, then in Peru and as an undocumented child migrant in New York. Now, the mother of two wakes early to walk her dogs, reflect and mentally prepare for the day ahead. “Every single day I am grateful for the life I have right now and the caring people in my life,” she says. “I know when I am not able to get out of bed and do this, I need to look at where my life is not in balance and ask myself, am I really OK?”
Even if you’re not one for morning exercise, there’s more to getting ready for work than guzzling a coffee and ensuring your buttons match up. In my leadership training work, I find a lot of successful people share the habit of checking their emails early, even if they don’t respond immediately. They read the papers and look at their social feeds to ensure they’re across things by the time they arrive at the office. If this sounds unrealistic, try going to bed just 20-minutes earlier and in turn, waking up a little earlier to start your day a step ahead.
For me, a smooth morning means being proactive and planning ahead – organisation is key when there are many things to juggle. Lunches are packed the night before, my running gear is out and I’ve reviewed my diary. I also talk to my family to determine what everyone’s day looks like, and who needs to be supported. Putting time limits on tasks can help keep your schedule on track when every minute counts. For parents, connecting with other local families and helping each other with the school run can be a lifeline on challenging days.
A flexible employer also helps. This can be as simple as a later arrival time to allow for school drop offs, or the ability to work from home when needed. I often find people who work for progressive organisations, ones that allow this kind of flexibility, are more inclined to give their best in return. Carol Corzo has made flexibility a priority when choosing her employers throughout her career. “Having the support to look after myself ensures that mentally and physically I am at my best,” she says. “I am given autonomy to make good choices for myself and my employer, and stay focused on my ‘non-negotiables’ in life.”
If you feel flexible work terms would make all the difference in getting your day off to a positive start, book a meeting with your manager to discuss the options. Talk about your situation, what you need, and how their support will positively impact upon your work in return.
Whatever strategies you use to start your day on a positive note, the flow-on effects can be significant. You don’t want to be known as someone who can’t function until 10am, or who takes an hour to find their personality. Develop a reputation for being switched-on and in a good mood in the morning, and it will put you in good stead for career advancement.