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  • Writer's pictureEmma@giraffe

Strategies for Success: How do great leaders start the day?

Have you ever woken up to your alarm, sat up in bed and wondered: what are the world’s great leaders doing right now?

Success is more than just working hard from nine to five – it’s a mindset that begins as soon as your day does. A good morning routine can set you up for a more productive and less stressful day, allowing you to be more organised and make better decisions. Read on for our top tips on maximising your time and developing a routine for an industrious day and a successful future, with advice for Footprints podcast interviewees Anushia Bleazby and Sean Hanrahan.

Tip 1: The snooze button is not your friend

Sure, sleep-ins can be nice sometimes, but truly successful people save them for the weekend. On a work day, starting early is a great way to make the best use of your time. The modern world is fast-paced and everyone is busy; it’s important to understand that your time is a valuable asset. Don’t waste it in bed!

Even if you are a person that normally likes sleeping as late as possible, you can change the habit.

Anushia Bleazby, Acting Manager of Corporate Strategy and Policy at Melbourne Water, says ‘I’m not naturally a morning person, but I’ve trained myself to become one. Starting early is a really great way to create some space to plan your day.’

Tip 2: Get up and get moving

Are you someone who wakes up, walks to the kitchen and yawns over their coffee machine waiting for that caffeine hit? A better way to wake yourself up is to schedule in some morning exercise. You don’t need to be running a marathon before work (but it’s amazing if you can!). Any form of movement is good: a fifteen-minute yoga session, a swim in your local pool, or just running around the block. In times of COVID lockdowns when you can’t access your usual fitness options, why not try the myriad of online options. From Youtube pilates tutorials to streamed body pump classes – all just a click away! 

Exercise helps to keep you healthy so you can perform at your best. It is also proven to help you think more clearly and make you happier, so you can start the day in a positive headspace. Sean Hanrahan, Service Planning Manager at City West Water, exercises daily. ‘I’m not super regimented… but I take the dog for a run or go to the gym,’ he says. Regardless of intensity, making time for exercise is an important part of setting yourself up for a better day.

Tip 3: Start your day inspired

We’ve all had days when we’ve woken up feeling like everything is too hard and we’d rather just crawl under the covers again. But great leaders know that motivation can be found in external sources, before you even reach your desk.

Spend some time in the morning reading or listening to things that inspire you.

‘I read every day,’ Sean says. ‘As well as listen to a podcast on the way to work in the car or on the train. I try to absorb new ideas, interesting thinking, and challenging thinking on a daily basis.’

Not commuting at the moment? Use the time you’d normally spend getting to the office on an inspirational activity, and even set up your home desk space with a motivational quote or two to keep you going through the day. 

Tip 4: Strategise, prioritise

Successful leaders don’t start their day without a clear plan of what they want to achieve. ‘I’m a massive list maker,’ Anushia says. ‘I have a monthly to do list, a weekly to do list, a daily to do list. It helps me start the day in a very organised and calm way. Having lists ensures I can maintain focus on what I need to do and it helps me prioritise.’

Creating a manageable list of tasks for the day, and scheduling time for breaks, will make the work you need to do less overwhelming and allow you to visualise the best way to achieve your goals.

Tip 5: Make some quality time

Never let work get in the way of time with family and loved ones. Mornings are a great opportunity to spend some time with kids and partners, when you have more energy and before the stress of the workday. Anushia ensures that she has family time before starting work. ‘I get up early, spend some time with my son, do breakfast with him, and have some really good quality time as a family in the morning,’ she says. She also notes that ‘flexible working arrangements are really important,’ so that you can find time for family alongside your working life.

So now you’re ready to take on the workday, more energised and organised than ever before. Remember, it’s important to find a routine that works for you and your life. ‘There’s no silver bullet’ to a successful morning strategy, Anushia says. ‘It’s just a lot of little things.’ It all starts with taking that first step.

Want to hear more great advice from inspiring leaders? Make sure you’re subscribed to the Footprints of Leadership podcast.

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