Many high performers, from CEO’s to athletes, use habits and routines to maximise their performance capabilities.
From Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same thing every day to Richard Branson starting each day with exercise, those performing at the highest levels rely on habits and routines.
How you spend the time shortly after you wake is crucial to setting yourself up for a high-performing day. This first ‘hypnopompic’ hour can determine your mental state and physical energy for the rest of the day.
So, what exactly can you or the key players within your organisation do to maximise performance potential? This week we look at 5 key habits that can keep you at your best.
1. Avoid your phone for the first 30 minutes
Most of us will understand this is a habit you will need to break rather than foster, but getting out of the habit of checking your phone upon waking has numerous benefits. The constant barrage of information we receive on a daily basis is seemingly endless. Allowing your brain to wake up without this added stress for the first 30 minutes of your day allows you keep your stress hormones lower and as a result keep your decision making and emotional intelligence higher.
2. Sit in silence for 5 minutes
Whether this is a specific meditative process or just some quiet time while eating breakfast; this gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and calm your mind. From emails, to meetings or even just watching the news; we spend so much of the day receiving some sort of mental input and we rarely give our brain time to digest it all.
Sitting in silence first thing in the morning allows you to “check-in” with yourself and see how you feel mentally and physically. If there is some underlying stress then you can recognise and work on it. If you feel physically tired, you know you need to get a better recovery.
3. Nutritious breakfast
Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to fuel your body and mind for the day. A lot of executives we speak to say they skip breakfast, have something on the go, or just grab a coffee. There are different schools of thought on whether breakfast is essential but the key thing to remember is that food is fuel. It is our primary energy source for both brain and body.
A good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat can help to keep your blood sugar steady, helping with mental focus, physical energy and mood. Additionally getting some vegetables or fruit can boost your micronutrients that in turn help with mental acuity and all physiological processes.
4. Delay the caffeine intake
Just like going 30 minutes without using your phone, delaying caffeine intake is often a case of breaking a habit to start with. If your current routine involves jarring yourself awake with caffeine then you are probably lacking in sleep. Waiting a while before having your first coffee of the day allows you to see how you genuinely feel and gives your brain and body a chance to wake up naturally.
Remember that you are also prolonging the caffeine crash, meaning you hopefully won’t have your second one until a bit later in the morning. If that means you end up having fewer each day, then that should improve your sleep quality and potentially reduce the need for the morning coffee in the first place. A virtuous cycle!
Getting some form of exercise in to start the day can be hugely beneficial. This can range from an intense gym session to a brisk walk to the train station. If you are about to spend the day sitting then it is a very smart idea to mitigate the negative effects by getting some high-quality movement in first thing.
If you are walking to work, make sure your arms are free and able to swing and that you are not wearing a bag on one shoulder. Anything that impedes natural movement will have an affect on your posture and musculoskeletal health.
Movement in the morning also gets the blood flowing more freely and this gets nutrients to all parts of the body… including the brain!