Genius morning habits, as told by five of the world's most successful people

Anna Hecht
March 15, 2018

Story highlights

  • We've gathered advice from successful people on how to spend your mornings
  • Some ideas: Reflection, family time, exercise and jazzed-up coffee

You've no doubt heard the saying, "The early bird gets the worm." But are you familiar with Mark Twain's take on that same subject? The author once said: "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." And Twain had a point. When you get straight to the most difficult or important tasks on your to-do list, the remainder of the day tends to flow a bit easier.

Since there are many different ways of going about the morning hours, we decided to take a look at how a few of the world's most powerful and well-known people greet the day. And, to go along with those habits, we've picked top-rated products that you can use when fully adopting these practices.

1. Steve Jobs' morning reflection routine

It's nearly impossible to make a list of the professionally successful without including Steve Jobs. The late entrepreneur is famous for launching Apple Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios. His morning ritual, according to his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, involved taking a long hard look at his purpose in life.

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Jobs encouraged the graduates never to give up on chasing their dreams. Part of that tactic? Making sure you truly love what you're doing and how you spend your time.

Our advice? Start journaling — because it's been known to relieve stress and boost creativity.

With the right journal, you can restructure priorities, monitor habits and behaviors, re-evaluate life goals and write down bits of daily inspiration. That's the premise behind The Mindful Notebook by Corso ($21.99, originally $30; store.cnn.com), a three-part notebook designed to "help you go about your day and tasks with ease." Inside, each new page has an inspirational quote and there is a "Gratitude Patience" section for writing down all that you're thankful for. When you purchase this product, Corso donates to The Foundation for a Mindful Society.

If you'd like to browse more options, Barnes and Noble has a whole selection of beautiful journals, many made of leather and with intricate cover designs. In fact, the Black Soft Bound Medium Journal ($9.95; barnesandnoble.com) is the book retailer's best seller, with an average 4.6- out of 5-star rating.

For more insights into Jobs' life and career, shop the Steve Jobs biography by best-selling author Walter Isaacson.

2. Oprah's no-alarms-allowed routine

Not going to lie, we aren't surprised that Oprah Winfrey doesn't use an alarm clock. After all, the media mogul and the queen of boss ladies has earned her right to sleep in -- although she usually doesn't. For fans, Oprah details her daily routine, giving an hourly account of how she spends her days:

"I have never set an alarm, I don't believe in them. They are ... alarming! I put the number in my mind and I wake up before that, usually between 6:02 and 6:20, because the dogs are trained to go out around that time. My first thought in the morning is, "Oh, I'm alive. Thank you!" I hop up, brush my teeth and go take the dogs to do their thing. They do the real downward-facing dog!"

While some of us can't depend solely on our internal clocks, there are reliable methods of waking that aren't so "alarming!" For instance, the Fiery Youth Sunrise Wake Up Light Digital Alarm Clock ($36.99; amazon.com) simulates a gentle sunrise to wake you gradually each day. Affordably priced and an Amazon's Choice product, this best-selling gadget even has natural sounds for a peaceful start to your day. And, with 235 5-star reviews, you can bet this alarm has been tried and tested.

For more insights from Oprah's life and career, shop "The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations" by Oprah Winfrey.

3. Richard Branson's family-first routine

In addition to working out and eating breakfast, billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says he values spending mornings with his family. On his blog, the father of three writes: "Exercise and family time put me in a great mind frame before getting down to business."

While it's not the most predictable piece of advice from a busy executive, we're fond of the idea — especially since research says time spent with loved ones is good for your health. And to ensure you're meeting up with the family enough, experts say it's best to be proactive and plan ahead. That way, you won't slack (or simply sit watching TV) when spending time together.

Our advice? Keep a master calendar of everyone's schedules so that planning is easier.

For instance, the More Time Moms 2018 Family Organizer ($15.99, originally $24.99; amazon.com) keeps track of appointments, school events, play dates, vacations and more. Online, it's been rated 5 stars by 123 satisfied customers and was named an Amazon's Choice product.

How to spend family time? When entertaining children, there are endless toy and activity options to choose from. However, when gathering with grown adults, it can be a bit trickier. For that reason, we're obsessed with this latest discovery: The Robb Vices monthly subscription box service. The luxury brand ships fancy (and fun) food, drink and home items from all over the world straight to your door. These unexpected items are meant to be shared and experienced in groups. Think: Luxe chocolate fondue sets, music players, tech gadgets, expensive teas, authentic cuisines and more.

For more insights into Branson's life and career, shop "Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography" by Richard Branson.

4. Arianna Huffington's energy- and brain-boosting coffee routine

Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, is a big advocate of getting at least eight hours of sleep and allowing your body to wake up naturally. There is, however, one thing she's not big on and that's breakfast — unless we're talking about coffee. And, more specifically, Bulletproof coffee ($14.99; amazon.com).

This popular coffee is designed to suppress hunger, steady energy levels and give you mental clarity.

To make Bulletproof coffee, the recipe involves brewing freshly ground Bulletproof coffee beans using a French press. According to the Bulletproof website, using a French press is important for preserving beneficial coffee oils that papers tend to filter out. If you don't own a French press, you can shop this fan-favorite (and affordable!) one from Amazon.

Once your coffee is brewed, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil ($22.89; amazon.com) and 1 to 2 tablespoons of Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee ($48.99; amazon.com). The delicious result, after mixing in a blender for 20 to 30 seconds, is a creamy, foamed latte.

To read full instructions on how to make your Bulletproof coffee, visit the Bulletproof blog.

For more insights into Huffington's life and career, shop "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder" by Arianna Huffington.

5. Kim Kardashian's daily cardio routine

While Kim Kardashian West may not be someone you expected to see on this list, there's no denying that she's a successful businesswoman. She launched a TV production company, has fragrance and skin care lines, owns clothing boutiques -- and we can't forget about her longtime role in "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

The working mother of three says that in the mornings, she goes for a 60-minute jog, either in her gated community or on the treadmill, to keep fit. Beyond that, she "works her abs or legs" for an added bit of toning.

Our advice? Invest in some high-grade running gear and a few at-home pieces of equipment. That way, you won't slack off on your a.m. fitness routine — even when life gets hectic.

Above, we have the new Brooks Launch 5 for both men and women, a cushioned shoe with a sleek design. Your step will feel light (and supported) in this running sneaker. Pictured left is the Men's Brooks Launch 5 ($100; zappos.com) in white and black. To the right is the Women's Brooks Launch 5 ($100; zappos.com) in green and gold. Both the men's and women's shoes in this model run true to size and come in five different colors.

For more insights from Kardashian-West's life and career, shop "Pocket Kim Wisdom: Witty Quotes and Wise Words from Kim Kardashian" from Hardie Grant Books.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.

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