The Morning Routines & Books of 41 Billionaires, Athletes, and Other World-Class Performers

You’re lying there in sweet bliss.

Your heart rate is slow and steady.

You’re dreaming about butterflies or ice-cream or whatever it is you dream about.

Then suddenly, BOOOOOM!

You nearly jump out of your skin. Panic is followed by confusion. Then, as you come to, you realize it’s just the daily gunshot from the nearby fort.

No biggy…

That was the way Victor Hugo, the French poet, and novelist, would wake up each day.

Despite Hugo’s success, it’s not exactly how I envision my ideal start to the day. I’m sure you’d agree. Yet, some of us start our day as if a gunshot has gone off — frantic, rushing through our unmindful breakfast, barely noticing our loved ones and driving like a lunatic on our commute to work.

Or, even more commonly it seems, our mornings are hindered by technology and a lack of focus on momentum and our intentions for the day:

  1. Your alarm clock sounds — it’s simply the worst thing imaginable.
  2. You check Facebook (scanning the latest pseudo-science article “Scientists Reveal 12 Research-Backed Ways to Reduce Belly Fat with Lard” and reluctantly “liking” your annoying, insecure cousin’s 50th selfie…of the day), followed by email …and screw it, why not check Instagram while you’re at it. #KnowledgeIsPower
  3. Feeling slightly insecure after looking at the photoshopped and filtered Instagram photos, uncertain after seeing everyone’s perfect (edited) life and completely anxious after reading your bosses passive-aggressive email — you literally roll out of bed.
  4. After semi-consciously making your way through a shower, brushing your teeth and (eventually) picking out your clothes for the day, you finally notice there’s another person in the house. Yes, it’s your spouse, remember! You spend “quality time” together — watching the fear-mongering news while eating processed cereal with little cocaine-like shapes mixed in (what are Lucky Charms made of anyway??)
  5. Finally, you stumble into your car to make a 45-minute commute. 44 minutes of the journey you’re stuck in your own head reinforcing the idea that everyone is out to get you, you’re filled with bad luck and every driver is terrible — except for you, of course.

The Domino Effect

Stanford professor and psychologist, Dr. BJ Fogg says, “You can never change just one behavior. Our behaviors are interconnected, so when you change one behavior, other behaviors also shift.”

As a common example, developing the habit to exercise usually results in healthier eating habits.

So what happens when we slightly adapt our morning routine?

Well, one behavioral change can activate a chain reaction that causes a dramatic shift in the things we do for the rest of the day.

For example, one consistent theme among the high performers discussed below appears to be the cultivation of mindfulness through meditation, journaling or even doing things at a slow, deliberate pace. This sets the tone and trajectory for the rest of the day. Instead of being reactive, you’re being proactive.

The Morning Routines & Books of 41 Billionaires, Athletes & Other World-Class Performers: Click To Tweet

How to Implement These Morning Routines Into Your Life

Before you go ahead and incorporate 10 new things into your morning, keep in mind two things:

  1. Rig the Game: Start slow and make your new morning routine winnable. Tim Ferris says, “if [you] can hit at least three of these items, then [you’ve] won the morning. Win the morning and you’ve won the day. You’re setting yourself up for positive momentum. This means fewer distractions, less stress, more creativity, and a healthier lifestyle.
  2. Simply copying someone else’s exact routine doesn’t work (duh!): When Seth Godin was asked how he wrote every day, Seth said, “There is this feeling that if we ate the same breakfast cereal Stephen King ate, then we’d be able to write like Stephen King writes.” While success inevitably leaves clues, the routine needs to work for you. Pick and steal tricks/tips from below and make it your own!

Select A World-Class Performer…

So, without further ado — because this post is an absolute beast (8,000+ words) – I present the morning routines and books of 41 extremely high performers.

Free Bonus: Click Here to download a FREE beautiful PDF version of this mammoth guide for future reference. Plus, you’ll also be the first to know about a free template, checklist, and infographic I’m working on which takes the insights from this post and distils it down to the commonalities.

 

1. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

professional tennis player

Novak is currently the #1 ranked men’s tennis player, has won 12 Grand Slam singles titles and is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Morning Routine

  • 7 am — Wakes up
  • Drinks a tall glass of room-temperature water
  • 2 tablespoons of manuka honey
  • Stretches: Mixes in yoga or tai chi for 20 minutes
  • Breakfast: muesli with cranberries, raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and almonds OR banana with cashew butter and fruit
  • 8:30 am — Meets up with coach and physiotherapist; plays tennis with training partner for 1.5 hours; rehydrates with warm water; sips a specially created sports drink
  • More stretching
  • Sports massage

Evening

Goes to sleep between 11:00 pm – 12:00 am

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Novak Djokovic's Morning Routine & Favorite Books: Click To Tweet

2. Stephen King

Steven King's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author

One of the best-selling and most prolific authors of the 20th and 21st centuries, Stephen King has made his name in the horror and fantasy genres with books like ‘Carrie,’ ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Green Mile.’

Morning Routine

  • Wakes up between 6:00 am – 7:00 am
  • 8:00 am – 8:30 am: Sits down in the same seat every morning with a glass of water or cup of tea; takes vitamins, listens to music and arranges his papers in the same way each day. In Lisa Rogak’s book, Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King, he explains, “The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.”
  • Each day, King writes 2,000 words typically ending his writing between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm
  • At this point of the day, he’s free to nap, read/write letters, read books (of which he reads about 70-80 per year), spend time with family and watch the Red Sox games on TV.

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

3. Barack Obama

Barack Obama's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Barack (yeah, we’re on first name basis) is the 44th and current President of the United States. As if I really needed to tell you that!

With an unbelievably busy daily agenda — with millions of American’s relying on him — how does he maintain structure within his day?

Morning Routine

  • 7AM — Wakes up [4]
  • 7:30AM — He arrives at the gym on the third floor of the residence, above his bedroom, at 7:30. He works out until 8:30 (cardio one day, weights the next) [4]
  • 8:30AM — then showers and dresses in either a blue or gray suit. “My wife makes fun of how routinized I’ve become [4] …“I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
  • 8:45AM — “I’ll thumb through all the major papers in the morning. I’ll read the Times and Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, just to catch up.” [3] and eats a quick breakfast (usually consisting of eggs, orange juice, water and green tea [7]) with his family and Reviews his daily security briefing [5]
  • 9AM — Makes his morning commute, of roughly 70 yards [4]

Evening

  • 10 pm — Returns to work after his family has gone to bed. He often spends this time reviewing briefing papers for the next day, speaking to foreign leaders in different time zones, writing or reading books.
  • 12 pm – 1 am — Bed

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

4. Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Navy SEAL

John “Jocko” Willink, is a retired US Navy SEAL officer (and legend), Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert, author and co-founder of Echelon Front. Yeah…you really don’t want to mess with him!

Morning

Why recreate the wheel? Jocko has already laid his routine out perfectly for us in a Business Insider article:

  • 4:30 a.m — Wakes up. Three alarms are set — one electric, one battery-powered, and one windup — but he almost always only needs one. The two others are safeguards.
  • After a quick cleanup in the bathroom, take a photo of wristwatch to show his Twitter followers what time he’s beginning the day. It’s become both a way to hold himself accountable as well as inspire others to stick to their goals.
  • Grab his workout clothes, laid out the night before, and head to the gym in his garage for one of the following strength workouts, which lasts around an hour. The exercises can either be lower weight with high reps and little rest or heavy weight with low reps and lots of rest.
    • Day 1: Pull ups, muscle ups, related exercises
    • Day 2: Overhead lifts, bench press, deadlifts, handstand push-ups, kettlebell swings
    • Day 3: Ring dips, regular dips, push-ups
    • Day 4: Overhead squats, front squats, regular squats
    • Spend anywhere from a few minutes (intense bursts) to a half hour (steady) for cardiovascular training. This could include sprints or a jog
  • 6:00 a.m — Finish workout. Depending on the day, go out to hit the beach near his home near San Diego, California, to spend time swimming or surfing. If the weather is nice, he may also do his cardio on the beach.
  • Shower
  • Sometimes eats a small snack like a few handfuls of nuts. Doesn’t eat his main meal until around noon
  • Start working for his leadership consulting firm, Echelon Front, anytime after 6:00 a.m.

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

Free Bonus: Click Here to download a FREE beautiful PDF version of this mammoth guide for future reference. Plus, you’ll also be the first to know about a free template, checklist and infographic I’m working on which takes the insights from this post and distils it down to the commonalities.

5. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Media Magnate

Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”, Oprah’s career spans five decades as an American media magnate, television and film producer, actress, and talk show host with a net worth of approximately $3 billion.

Morning

  • 5:45 – 6 am— wakes up [4]
  • (almost) Immediately expresses gratitude upon waking [2]
  • While still in bed she reads a passage from TheDailyLove.com, then from The Bowl of Saki: “It’s like the Sufi Daily Word.” [4]
  • 6:15 am— Makes her bed – “I remember to approach this simple act with a “beginner’s mind” making it a game-like fun activity in the morning. This sets the tone for the rest of my day and I try to infuse that same intention into every act for the rest of the day from mindless tasks to cooking.
  • 6:20 am — 20 minutes of TM [4]
  • 6:40 am — “works out” for 30-60mins – “[Uses the] treadmill downstairs in the gym. [While on the treadmill] I play Scrabble on my iPad, against the computer.”
  • 7:30 am — “I got in the makeup chair, then did two shows.”
  • 11:30 am — Breakfast: “blackberries and half a banana, some almond milk and a little protein powder.” [4] Or “I drink a green drink—spinach, parsley, a little bit of apple juice, celery, and cucumbers in a blender” [5]

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

6. Josh Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Chess Prodigy, Martial Artist, Teacher

It’s not often you hear about a chess player who is also a martial artist. And that vastly understates Waitzkin’s accolades.

He’s an eight-time national chess champion, thirteen-time Tai Chi Chuan push hands national champion, and two-time Tai Chi Chuan push hands world champion. Waitzkin is also an author, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (under the legendary Marcelo Garcia) and coaches the world’s top performers including the likes of Mark Messier, Cal Ripken Jr. and high-profile investors.

Morning Routine

  • 7:00 am — Wakes up
  • 7:05 am — Brushes teeth, etc.
  • 7:10 am — Journal (Also applies his mind, pre-input, to the area of complexity from the night before)
  • 7:35 am — Spends time with his son
  • 8:00 am — Breakfast (time estimated)
  • 9:00 am — Coffee (time estimated)
  • No email

Evening Routine

  • Ends the work day with a high-quality focus on a certain area of complexity where he could use insight – then let’s go of it. Uses the unconscious mind to help him with a challenge (the Hemingway principle).

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1

7. Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers' Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur, Author

Derek Sivers is best known as the founder of CD Baby — a business he accidentally created — which became the largest seller of independent music on the web with over $100M in sales.

But, that doesn’t really begin to describe Sivers. He was also a circus clown, professional musician and now spends a lot of his time writing and programming. Fascinating guy!

Morning Routine

  • Writes
  • Focuses on the project he’s obsessed with. Each morning is different. Does what he loves/enjoys/gets him into flow.

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

8. Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis' Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Photographer

Chase Jarvis is an award-winning American photographer who’s worked wth the likes of Nike, Apple, Columbia Sportswear, REI, Honda, Subaru, Polaroid, Lady Gaga, and Red Bull.

He’s also a director, artist, and the CEO of online learning platform, CreativeLive.

Morning

  • 20oz ice cold water
  • Says hello to his cat, Dexter 🙂
  • TM 15-20 minutes
  • 15 Minute Gratitude and/or Visualization
  • No email!
  • Doesn’t schedule meetings in the morning, if possible
  • Normal shower; ends with one-minute freezing cold shower
  • Makes bed
  • Breakfast
  • Always eats something (depends on time)
  • Protein + Vegetable (from 4-hour body) (e.g. 3 eggs + red pepper)
  • Half an Avocado or teaspoon of coconut oil and almonds
  • Protein Shake (blue bonnet protein)
  • Occasionally has Bulletproof coffee
  • Movement (blood flow – low threshold of what movement is)
  • 3 Mile run
  • 1/2 mile brisk walk to coffee shop
  • Finishes that all by about 8:00 – 8.30am

Evening

  • Meditation (TM) 15-20 minutes before dinner
  • Aims for at least 8 hours sleep

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

9. Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author

Leo Babauta is an author and the creator of Zen Habits, one of the top simplicity and productivity blogs in the world.

I’ll leave it there. Keep it simple, you know?

Morning Routine

  • Wake at 4:30 a.m.
  • Start the coffee maker
  • Drink glass of water
  • Meditates
  • Reads for 30-60mins
  • Writes (book, blog, questions for interview) – no distractions (email, twitter)
  • No breakfast

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

10. Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur

Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, investor (in companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr), author, public speaker and future NY Jets owner.

Morning

  • Wakes up at 6am
  • Grabs cell phone and takes it to the bathroom. Consumes info (TechMeme, Nuzzle, ESPN, Business Insider, etc.)
  • Responds to tweets on Twitter; checks Instagram for photos of friends
  • Checks Fantasy Baseball or Jets related news
  • 45 min workout – workout varies depending on day of the week, diet, travel, etc
  • Spends some time with kids
  • Leaves for work commute and calls family on the way

Sources & Further Reading

1

11. Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss' Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author, Investor, Human Guinea Pig

Described by the NY Times as “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk” and more recently as the “Oprah of Audio” due to his influence and reach with his #1 iTunes podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, Tim has been one of my most influential “virtual mentors” reminding me each day to experiment, question norms and consider opportunity costs.

In fact, after religiously listening to his podcast where guests laid out their morning routines and books (among other gems), I decided to write this very blog post.

Morning

  1. Tim is a bit of a night owl so he typically wakes up between 08:30 – 10:00am.
  2. Makes bed
  3. Meditates for 20 minutes (TM)
  4. Brews tea (Pu-erhturmeric, ginger tea and coconut oil)
  5. Journals (using either Five Minute Journal and/or Morning Pages)
  6. “Hangs” using a self-built rig in order to decompress the spine and improve grip strength
  7. Typically skips breakfast to focus on creative production or synthesis

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

12. Tony Robbins

Tony Robbin's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Performance Coach

I get the feeling that when most people hear Tony’s name, it conjures up words like “self-help,” “motivation” and sometimes a little doubt about his true abilities. I’d admit, after reading a couple of his books (and finding them thoroughly enjoyable and useful), I wondered if I was being somehow being scammed? That stuck in the back of my mind each time I watched him speak or saw his name.

But over the past few years, I’m fully convinced this guy is the real deal. And does it really matter too much anyway? I (and millions of other people) get an enormous amount of value from him. After all, Tony is the world’s most famous performance coach and has advised everyone from Princess Diana to Paul Tudor Jones, and Oprah to Andre Agassi.

Aside from being a performance coach, he is one hell of a businessman, author, and philanthropist.

Morning

  • Hot pool
  • Jumps in cold plunge pool (~57 degrees Fahrenheit). Or if available, will use a cryotherapy tank (tries to use at least 3 days per week)
  • “Primes” for the day (10 minutes):
    • 30 Kapalabhati Pranayama breaths (with mediation-type music)
    • Gratitude
    • Prays (He considers it a spiritual exercise, but it doesn’t need to be tied to religion)
    • Focuses on the 3 things he wants to achieve that day
  • Breakfast: Fish and Salad (revision required — he’s changed his diet recently)

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

13. Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Inventor, Futurist and Author

Everyone has that one friend who exuberates confidence in every decision. They’re positive of a statement but almost always wrong. Any you know it. Well, if it just so happens you’re friends with Ray, you might actually want to believe almost every word he says (especially when it comes to technology).

Why?

He has an 86% accuracy rate with his technology predictions. Which is stunning!

Ray is currently the Director of Engineering at Google and his predictions scare me a little bit.

Morning

  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Takes 30 supplement pills (out of a total 100 for the day) for heart, eye, sexual and brain health. His daily intake includes coenzyme Q10, lutein and bilberry extract, glutathione IV, vinpocetine and pyridoxal 5-phosphate. For a complete list of supplements Ray takes, click here.
  • Breakfast includes:
    • Fresh raspberries and blackberries
    • Smoked salmon mackerel
    • Dark chocolate
    • Unsweetened vanilla soy milk
    • Porridge/oatmeal
    • Green tea

Evening

  • Uses lucid dreaming to solve daily challenges with his businesses, writing and inventions.
  • Generally, aims for 8 hours sleep

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

14. Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie Morning Routine

Actress

I couldn’t help myself!

15. Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis' Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Engineer, Entrepreneur and Leader

It’s difficult to categorize Dr. Peter Diamandis as I attempted to do above. Fortune magazine named him one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” he’s founded an asteroid mining company, Singularity University, and the Zero Gravity Corporation which helped Stephen Hawking fulfill his dream of going to space — by flying into the upper atmosphere and experiencing weightlessness.

If that isn’t enough (and I’m leaving out many things here), he’s the Chairman and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale global competitions to solve the world’s grand challenges.

Morning

  • 6:30 am — Wakes up
  • Shower:
    • Repeats personal purpose and mission (affirmation)
    • Sets mindset for the day ahead
    • Stretches
  • Deep breathing

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

16. Rich Roll

Rich Roll's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Plant-Based Ultra-Endurance Athlete, Podcaster, Author

Much of his 20’s, Rich found himself struggling with an alcohol and drug addition which deeply affected his promising college swimming career, relationships and landed him in jail and ultimately rehab by age 31.  Now sober, he had another massive challenge to face — alongside the never-ending battle against addiction — to shed 50 pounds. However, this quest would turn out to be much more than about losing weight.

His new journey led him to adopt a plant-based diet — making him the first vegan to compete in the 320-mile über-endurance event (his first event at age 40 which landed him in the top 10 males for the competition). It wasn’t too long after that Men’s Fitness Magazine named Rich as one of the “25 Fittest Men in the World.”

Now, he is the host of the wildly successful “The Rich Roll Podcast” which is often found in the iTunes top-10 lists.

Morning

  • Pre-Dawn Rise (06:00-07:00)
  • Mindfulness in all actions
  • Water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (to alkalize the body)
  • Tea (Pu-erh) by Living Tea
  • Visualization / Recitation
  • 20-minute meditation (Headspace App)
  • Journal / Mini-Journal
  • Gratitude List
  • Hygiene
  • Train/Work

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1

17. Bill Gates

Bill Gates' Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur

One of many people in this post that really needs no introduction. Bill Gates is a technologist, business leader, and philanthropist. He cofounded Microsoft with Paul Allen which became the world’s largest PC software company and subsequently made him one of the richest men in the world.

Today, Bill and his wife are heavily focused on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which tackles global issues such as Healthcare (malaria, HIV, vaccines), Education and Poverty.

Morning

  • Receives daily news digest with a wide array of topics, and he gets alerts for stories on Berkshire Hathaway, where he sits on the board of directors
  • Reads the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Economist
  • Runs for an hour on treadmill while watching something educational

Evening

  • One hour of reading every night (typically reads a book per week)
  • Swears by at least 7 hours sleep in order to be creative

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

18. Neil Patel

Neil Patel's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur

Neil is one of my favourite marketers to follow. It seems I’m not the only one. Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers in the world, President Obama recognized him as a top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 30 and the United Nations named him one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35.

He is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics and also helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

Morning

  • 6:45 am – Wakes up and reviews missed calls, text messages, and emails while laying in bed
  • 7:00 am – Exercise: Light weights, run on the treadmill and steam room.
  • 8:00 am – Gets ready for the day while watching CNN.
  • 8:30 am – Breakfast
  • 8:45 am – Reviews the day ahead with his assistant and any errands he needs help with
  • 9:00 am – Responds to emails
  • 10:00 am – Phone calls and high priority tasks

Evening

  • 11:00 pm – Sleep

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

Free Bonus: Click Here to download a FREE beautiful PDF version of this mammoth guide for future reference. Plus, you’ll also be the first to know about a free template, checklist and infographic I’m working on which takes the insights from this post and distils it down to the commonalities.

19. Kat Cole

Kat Cole's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Businesswoman

Kat is currently is the Group President of Focus Brands and Chief Operations Officer of Cinnabon.

“On the Road” Morning

  1. 5AM: Wakes
  2. 5:05AM: Drinks 24oz of water
  3. Considers day ahead
  4. Checks calendar, social media accounts, email, blogs and messages
  5. 6AM: If the weather is decent and the area is safe, I go for a walk or jog outside (30 minutes), usually with my EDM playlists, then wrap up with 10 minutes of basics when back in the room or hotel gym: burpees, lunges, planks, etc.
  6. If the weather is bad or I’m in an unsafe area, I’ll do yoga and exercises in my room or the gym for 30 minutes. If I’m on the west coast of the US, I have early calls with east coast people scheduled, so if it doesn’t require being in front of a screen, I talk on my walk.
  7. 6:30-6:45 a.m: Goes to a local coffee house for a casual coffee and mini-breakfast meeting with students, entrepreneurs, or friends in the particular city she’s in that day
  8. 7:30 a.m.: Next I shower and get ready; I’m done by 8:15 a.m. I’ll grab a quick, healthy snack and head out to whatever business meetings or events the day holds — ready to set the world on “fiyah”!

Typical morning at home

  1. 5:30 – Wakes
  2. 24oz water
  3. checks social, etc
  4. Shots! Numeric, wheatgrass, aloe
  5. Mini yoga session or stretching
  6. Showers
  7. Grabs a high-protein snack and heads to the office by 07.30-08:00

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

20. Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author, Businesswoman

Arianna Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of 15 books.

She’s also a popular sleep evangelist — a subject I feel very passionate about.

Morning

  • Wakes up (has at least 7-8 hours sleep)
  • Avoids checking her phone and immediately meditates for 20-30mins (no formal position, etc) wherever, however. Focuses on breathing deeply, being grateful and setting her intentions for the day [2] She’s so convinced of the benefits that she offers weekly classes to her employees.
  • Some form of movement (Yoga, Treadmill – while catching up with a quick cycle of news, or Bike)

Evening

  • Avoids iPads, etc
    I have a specific time at night when I regularly turn off my devices — and gently escort them out of my bedroom. I also love a cup of hot decaf tea before bed, and when I feel too wired to sleep, my panacea is a hot bath with my favorite bath salts
  • Usually in bed by 11pm

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

21. Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author

Chris Guillebeau is a New York Times bestselling author of books such as The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup. Before the age of 35 had visited every country in the world and is quite happy to be considered an unconventional person.

He’s also the host of the popular World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.

Morning

  • Wakes up 5:30-6AM
  • 2 Glasses of water right away
  • Makes coffee and spends 20 minutes catching on the news and his inbox/social properties
  • Heads to the office to focus on independent work (e.g. writing) between 8-11am
  • Follows with interviews and/or meetings

Evening

  • “At the end of the day I ask myself “Did today matter?” and journal a few quick notes related to that question”
  • Decides what he’s going to wear the next day and packs laptop bag for the next day
  • Drinks herbal tea and sometimes take melatonin to help with falling asleep

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

22. Scott Adams

Scott Adam's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Cartoonist

Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip which he started back in 1989. Since then, Adams has drawn over 9,000 Dilbert cartoons which have been published in more than 2,000 newspapers in 57 countries and in 19 languages. Millions of people have enjoyed his witty, satirical and may I add, extremely accurate take on office cubicle life.

Morning

  1. Typically wakes up at 5am
  2. Makes coffee, grabs a protein bar and heads to his desk within 10mins of waking (uses this “treat” as a trick to train himself to enjoy waking up and being productive…seems to work!)
  3. In order to get his creative juices flowing, Adams primes his brain with external news – primarily focused on business and technology.
  4. After finishing a Dilbert comic or two, he works on a blog post, tweets and emails for his startup at CalendarTree.com
  5. Creativity begins to dwindle at this point, so he hits the gym

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

23. Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons' Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur, author, activist and philanthropist

Co-founder of Def Jam Records, Russell Simmons played a vital role in the hip-hop revolution, giving him the name “The Godfather of Hip-Hop”, which saw him promote stars like the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and LL Cool J.

He’s also well known for being a vegan, yoga and meditation enthusiast.

Morning

  1. I get up at 6:15 and
  2. I do asanas [yoga postures], and then stretch and
  3. Meditate for 20 minutes.
  4. I then go over to my kids’ house and I meditate for 15 minutes with them,
  5. at, and take them to school
  6. Meditation or quiet time is essential; it reboots your brain and makes you happier.

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

24. Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Former NFL Quarterback, Entrepreneur

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur, an NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of Tarkenton Companies.

Morning

  1. Wakes up and takes care of his two German Shepherds and Chihuahua. This is important to Fran because he then knows he’s helped put someone else’s needs ahead of his own
  2. Reads every section of the Atlanta Journal Constitution for his local news, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. This helps him to think broadly by understanding different perspectives as it relates to him, his life and business.
  3. Light workout
  4. Breakfast includes blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and steel-cut oatmeal. Plenty of hydration.

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

25. Cal Newport

Cal Newport's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Professor, Author

Cal Newport is a writer and a professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He is the author of five books including “Deep Work” and “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”.

Cal is an inspiring guy. His friend and fellow writer, Eric Barker explains:

Cal Newport impresses the heck out of me. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. He’s insanely productive:

  • He has a full-time job as a professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes and meeting with students.
  • He writes 6 (or more) peer-reviewed academic journal papers per year.
  • He’s the author of 4 books including the wonderful “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” And he’s at work on a fifth.
  • He’s married with a young child and handles all the responsibilities that come with being a husband and dad.
  • He blogs regularly about productivity and expert performance.

And yet he finishes work at 5:30PM every day and rarely works weekends.

Favorite Morning

  1. Wakes up at 6AM
  2. Drinks a glass of water and heads straight out to walk his dog
  3. Walks and often listens to audiobooks
  4. Passes through a park where he bangs out “25 total pull-ups spread over three different hand configurations” (takes him 5 minutes as opposed to the massive commitment of going to the gym each day)
  5. Showers, get’s ready and helps his boys get ready for the day
  6. Focuses on household/family tasks for next 20-30 minutes
  7. Gets to work, starting with on his first-time block (see below)

Evening

  • Time block each day’s schedule the night before using his trusty Black n’ Red executive notebook

Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

26. James Clear

James Clear's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur, writer, Weightlifter

James’ blog is one of my go-to’s. He has a unique way of telling stories through his writing to share ideas and systems that ultimately show you how to live a better life.

His work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com, Fast Company, and Forbes.

Morning

  • Wakes up, takes a shower, gets dressed
  • Drinks a cold glass of water
  • Writes down 3 things he is grateful for
  • Reads 20 pages of a book
  • Begins his work day

Evening

  • Writes down another 3 things he is grateful for
  • 10:30 – 11:00 pm — Goes to sleep around 10:30-11:00PM

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

Free Bonus: Click Here to download a FREE beautiful PDF version of this mammoth guide for future reference. Plus, you’ll also be the first to know about a free template, checklist and infographic I’m working on which takes the insights from this post and distils it down to the commonalities.

27. Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Fitness Coach

At 63 years old, there aren’t too many people that look in as good as shape or move as well as Steve Maxwell.

Steve was named one of the top 100 trainers in the United States by Men’s Journal, became the first person certified to teach Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the USA and first American to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Relson Gracie.

Morning

  • Tries to avoid the use of an alarm, but will the vibration alarm feature on his Fitbit device if necessary
  • Gratitude
  • Gentle neck and eye movements
  • Measures his heart rate as a measure of recovery
  • Bathroom, uses his tongue scraper, rinses sinuses with warm salted water
  • Swishes 1 tsp of sesame oil in his mouth for 5-20 minutes; brushes teeth with a natural toothpaste like neem and cinnamon.
  • Massages scalp, shaves, showers alternating hot/cold 3-5 times
  • Morning mobility, breathing and yoga exercises
  • Meditation
  • 1-2 glasses of room temperature water; avoids large breakfasts; eats fresh fruit for breakfast

Favorite Books

 

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

28. Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Personal Trainer

In 2008, Ben was nominated by the NSCA as America’s top personal trainer, and in 2013 and 2014, Ben was voted as one of the top 100 most influential individuals in health and fitness.

Note: On my own blog, it would be dishonest of me to not admit that I take Ben’s fitness, nutrition and wellness advice with a grain a salt. Some of his work appears to be purely speculative, subjective and reliant upon poor nutritional studies. However, it’s always nice to have other perspectives and tactics here and there, I have found consistencies and gems that have helped me (eg. cold therapy, sleep research, etc).

Morning

  • Wakes up at ~6:30 (no alarm)
  • 5 minutes of heart rate variability (HRV) testing while completing his Five Minute Journal, practicing box breathing meditation, reading a Bible and praying
  • 6:45AM – 20oz of water with 10 drops of lemon essential oil, 5 drops oil of oregano, supplements [link], sets water to boil for coffee
  • 6:50AM – Exposes himself to either day light or a high-powered blue light bulb (to increase cortisol); 10 minutes of stretching; 10 dead-hang pull-ups
  • 7:00AM – Coffee; bathroom
  • 7:30AM – Spends time with his two boys before they head out for school
  • 7:45AM – 30 minutes of morning movement and breathing (alternates between yoga, foam rolling, inversion table, cold water swim/hot tub, deep breathing)
  • 8:15AM – Cold shower
  • 8:30AM – Breakfast (green smoothie) + additional supplements
  • 9:00AM – Work day begins

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

29. Brian Koppelman

Brian Koppelman's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer

Brian is best known as the co-writer of Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders, as well as a co-creator/executive producer of Showtime’s Billions. He also directed Solitary Man and was also the producer of The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones.

I highly recommend checking out his podcast, The Moment with Brian Koppelman.

Morning

  • Meditates for 20 minutes (transcendental meditation)
  • Morning pages (three longhand pages)
  • Takes a long walk: First he walks his daughter to school, and then makes his way to his office (approx two miles)
  • 9 am — Gets to his office and begins to work

Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

30. Wim Hof (“The iceman”)

Wim Hof's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Daredevil, Adventurer

Nicknamed “The Iceman” for his ability to withstand extreme cold, Wim Hof has astonished everyone (including doctors) with a myriad of feats including:

  • Running a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water
  • Climbing Mount Everest to an altitude of 22,000 ft wearing nothing but shorts and shoes
  • Completed a full marathon above the polar circle in Finland at temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F)
  • Withstanding the effects of a neurotoxin, which was injected under supervision by doctors, through his meditation and breathing techniques (like many of these feats, Wim later proved he was able to train other people to develop the same control over their autonomic immune response — all within a matter of days)
  • Holding 20 world records, including a record for the longest ice bath and for staying immersed in ice for 1 hour and 52 minutes

Even though I don’t personally know him, Wim Hof is one my favourite people in the world. He has such charisma and his joy is infectious!

Morning

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

31. Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur

Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square. In 2008, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.

Morning

  • Wakes up at 5AM
  • Meditates for 30 minutes
  • 7 minute workout OR 3-5 mile run
  • Breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs with soy sauce
  • Makes coffee
  • Onto work where he split his time between Twitter and Square

Evening

  • Sleep at 11PM (with blackout curtains!)

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

32. Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author, Speaker

Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business.

He’s been featured in The Harvard Business review, Techcrunch and The M.I.T. Technology Review called him “The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology.”

 

Morning

  • 6:30 a.m. I wake up and start cooking breakfast for my family. I listen to the NPR news app while I make my first cup of coffee and a protein-rich meal.
  • 7:30 a.m. Begins writing while using Freedom and Scrivener for distraction-free work
  • 8:30 a.m. Takes a stretch break and makes another cup of coffee.
  • 8:45 a.m. Back to writing
  • 9:30 a.m. Hits the gym or goes for a run
  • 10:30 a.m. Shower, shave, and dress.
  • 10:45 a.m. Meditate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • 11:00 a.m. Checks email

Evening

  • At 10PM he has an automatic timer set that turns off his internet so he can begin to shut down for the evening

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

33. Kevin O’LEARY

Kevin O'leary's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Entrepreneur, Investor

Well known for his brash and direct persona on the hit Television show, Shark Tank, Kevin O’leary (AKA Mr. Wonderful) is a Canadian businessman, investor, writer and TV personality who made his fortune when he sold The Learning Company to Mattel for approximately $4 billion.

Morning

  • 5:45 am: Wakes up
  • Checks the Asian and European bond markets
  • 45 minutes on the elliptical or exercise bike while watching business television
  • 8 a.m. to 9 a.m: Get’s up to speed on what’s happening in the business world; carries out research
  • 9:30 am: Arrives in his office just in time for the market to open

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

Free Bonus: Click Here to download a FREE beautiful PDF version of this mammoth guide for future reference. Plus, you’ll also be the first to know about a free template, checklist and infographic I’m working on which takes the insights from this post and distils it down to the commonalities.

34. David Cush

David Cush's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Businessman

David Cush is the CEO of Virgin America.

Morning

  • Wakes at 4:15 a.m.
  • Sends emails
  • Calls business associates on East Coast
  • Listens online to Dallas sports radio program and reads the papers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle and Financial Times) while on the LifeCycle bike at the gym.

Favorite Books

  1. The Golden Argosy, The Most Celebrated Short Stories in the English Language – edited by Van Cartmell and Charles Grayson
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  4. McTeague by Frank Norris
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  7. 1984 by George Orwell
  8. The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott
  9. Light in August by William Faulkner
  10. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Sources & Further Reading

1

35. Maria Popova

Maria Popova's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Writer

Maria Popova is the mind behind Brain Pickings, a very popular blog (around 5 million readers per month) that she describes as:

“A cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful”

Maria is a prolific writer. Although this is not the usual format, this is one of my favorite pieces from her blog.

Morning

  • Wakes up after 8 hours sleep (which is very important to Maria and so it should be!)
  • Meditates between 15 to 20 minutes
  • Goes to the gym where she does a lot of her long-form reading
  • Returns home; eats breakfast
  • Starts writing; completes 2-3 articles per day (avoids email or social interruptions during this time)
  • Takes a short break
  • Takes care of admin tasks such as email, errands, etc.
  • Resumes writing

Evening

  • Continues writing through to evening
  • Socializes or spends time with partner
  • Reads or continues writing

Favorite Books

Out of respect for Maria’s love for books and challenge with naming a select few favorite books, I’ve decided to just link to Maria’s post outlining some of her favorite books instead. I’m not sure she’d say that was comprehensive but it’s a start.

Sources & Further Reading

1

36. Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Artist, Writer

I look forward to the moment when I see an Austin Kleon email in my inbox. Not only does he share interesting content in his weekly newsletter, but I simply love his blackout poetry.

Aside from his cool newsletters and blogs, he’s a New York Times bestselling author of three illustrated books: Steal Like An Artist, Newspaper Blackout, and Show Your Work!

Morning

  • Wakes up
  • Breakfast (eggs, peanut butter toast, smoothie or breakfast tacos)
  • Coffee (grinds beans, brews in a Chemex)
  • 3 mile walk with his wife, dog and kid in a stroller
  • Showers
  • Meditates for 10 minutes
  • Writes or makes a poem
  • Checks and responds to email, Twitter, etc.

Evening

  • Goes to bed around 9 pm
  • Reads for approximately an hour (typically non-fiction)

Favorite Books

For a more extensive list of Austin’s favorite books, please click here.

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3

37. Woody Allen

Woody Allen's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Screenwriter, Actor, Director

In a directing career spanning 50 years, Allen has directed 47 feature films which have won numerous awards — including 4 Oscars, 10 BAFTA awards, and 2 Golden Globe Awards.

Despite peaks and valley’s with the reception of his films, he’s just about managed to pump out a film every year which is rather impressive. So what clues to his success can we tease out from his routine and favourite books?

Morning Routine

For most of his life, Allen has followed the same routine:

  • Wakes up
  • Treadmill
  • Breakfast: Cheerios with raisins and sliced bananas; prune juice; reads the New York Times
  • Lies down on the bed with a pad and pencil/pen and writes for two hours
  • Shower
  • Practices his clarinet for 40-60 minutes
  • Writes for the rest of the morning (and sometimes the majority of the day) with the occasional break for fresh air)

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

38. Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Author, Marketer, Entrepreneur

Ryan Holiday is a bestselling author of books such as Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego is the Enemy.

He also served as the director of marketing at American Apparel, is a media columnist at the New York Observer and has a cult following among NFL coaches, world-class athletes, TV personalities, political leaders, and others around the world.

Morning Routine

  • Wakes up at 8am
  • Ryan’s one rule is do one thing in the morning before checking email (THE productivity killer). This could mean showering, running, journaling/writing, etc.)
  • Shower, get ready.
  • Writes for 1-2 hours (uses Philips Hue light to regulate his circadian rhythm)
  • Eats breakfast (sometimes this includes eggs, bacon, avocado)
  • Works on his to-do list for the day

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1

39. Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Actress

Cameron Diaz is an American actress, producer, and former fashion model.

She has received 4 Golden Globe Award nominations and Diaz’s films total over US$3 billion in US box office revenue — making her the 2nd highest-grossing US box office actress of all time.

Morning Routine

Diaz spends the first hour of her day following this routine:

  1. Makes her bed
  2. Drinks a liter of water
  3. Meditates for 20 minutes
  4. Breakfast: Avocado toast or a bowl of oatmeal
  5. Exercise

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

40. Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

entrepreneur, Taco Lover

Noah Kagan was employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint.com, and is the Chief Sumo (founder) at SumoMe and AppSumo. Oh, and he loves tacos!

Morning Routine

After suffering from depression in 2012, one of Noah’s friends eventually had him start using the 4-part morning routine called “GEBY”:

  1. Gratitude — Find something (no matter how small) to be grateful for
  2. Exercise — Incorporate some kind of movement into your morning (weights, walk, disc golf…anything!)
  3. Breakfast — Choose a breakfast that’s both “healthy” and makes you excited to wake up and eat
  4. You — Do something for yourself today. Something that will make you happy.

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1 | 2

41. Brad Lande

Brad Lande's Morning Routine & Favorite Books

Businessman

Brad Lande is the former head of Birchbox and current CEO of Live in the Grey.

Morning Routine

Brad was NOT a morning person. After struggling for much of his life to establish some kind of structure — or to simply wake up without hitting the snooze button — he eventually found a morning routine that stuck:

  1. Drinks hot water with lemon
  2. Meditates for 20 minutes
  3. Practices yoga (The “5 Tibetans“)
  4. Uses PLANT face oil to cleanse and hydrate his skin
  5. Drinks a breakfast smoothie (coconut water, banana, blueberries, kale, bee pollen, almond butter, and ice)

Favorite Books

Sources & Further Reading

1

Over to you…

How does your morning routine compare?  How have any of the books listed impacted you?

Let me know your answers and/or questions in the comments section!

 

Free Bonus: Click Here to download a FREE beautiful PDF version of this mammoth guide for future reference. Plus, you’ll also be the first to know about a free template, checklist and infographic I’m working on which takes the insights from this post and distils it down to the commonalities.

4 Comments

  1. Hello everyone!

    It’s Alex – the author of this blog.

    Just a quick note:

    (1) What commonalities can you see from featured high-performers?
    (2) What are you planning to incorporate in your morning routine?
    (3) Do let me know if you notice any errors in the post (it’s bound to happen!)

    Thanks for all the brilliant feedback so far!

  2. Hi Alex,
    This was a very helpful article; thank you! I read through all the morning routines and wrote down elements to incorporate into my own–I started doing oil pulling and using a neti pot and tongue scraper again, switched my daily visualization and gratitude practice to the morning, and started journaling about an area of complexity from the night before. I have to say I was disappointed that only 6 out of the 41 people represented were women–and one of the six (Margot Robbie) didn’t even get a write-up. That being said, I appreciate your research and have already gotten good results from incorporating pieces into my morning routine.

    • Hi, Eva!

      Glad you’ve got value from it! 🙂

      As for you second comment, that was by no means a conscious effort. Some of it has to do with what info/data is available to me for world class performers. There were many people I wanted to feature but the info was too thin. Either that or I came across info for people that simply weren’t in the top 0.01% of their field.

      I may do any update (or add) to this post in the future. In which case, I’ll definitely keep this comment in mind. Thank you!

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