Morning Routines: How Founders Set Their Days Up for Success

Routines allow you to minimize stress in your day by eliminating inefficiencies and freeing up time to focus on what you do best. It’s why so many successful people expound on the value of routines — particularly morning routines, which help you start off on the right foot and set yourself up for a productive, fulfilling day. Entrepreneurship can mean grinding from sunup to sundown to make your venture a success, which is why morning routines can be so critical to starting the day right.

For some, mornings mean exercise. For others, it’s coffee and light reading to get the mind going. No matter your routine, what’s important is that you have one.

That’s why we asked five tech founders from across Ohio what they do to get their days going. While differing in the details, all five said they stick to a script to make the most of their mornings:

PopCom Founder & CEO Dawn Dickson believes in the powers of self-reflection and a big glass of water. It’s why she begins and ends each day the same way.

“When I wake up, the very first thing I do is thank God for allowing me to wake up. Life is truly a blessing! The older I get the more I am aware that just being on earth and being healthy is a gift. Gratitude is a big part of my life — being grateful for each moment. Before I pick up my phone I spend at least 10 minutes in silence, breathing and being present, whether it is a prayer, meditation, or just quiet time to center myself and prepare for the day. Then I drink a glass of water that I put next to my bed before I go to sleep. Starting your day with a glass of water right away is great for the body. Once I pick up my phone, things get crazy and I go nonstop. Before bed, I do the same exact thing — have a glass of water and thank God for the day.”

Mornings for Darrin Murriner, co-founder & CEO of Cloverleaf, revolve around getting his kids out the door and off to school before getting into work mode.

“A couple days each week I meet others at the YMCA for basketball or a workout, but most days my primary focus after waking up is getting my kids out of bed and off to school. I typically give myself another 15-30 minutes between alarm and when I need to get the kids up and ready, so I have a little time to catch up on anything important that came through during the night or have a little quiet time to prepare my mindset before I tackle the day. After I drop the kids off at school I will typically stop and get a chai tea at a coffee shop and then answer 30 minutes of emails before my meetings crank up.”

Curafied Founder & CEO Arielle Jordan’s key to morning success is what she does the evening before — wind down properly from a busy day and stick to a stringent sleep schedule.

“The #1 thing I do to set the tone for a successful day is to get good rest the night before. Instead of working ‘tirelessly into the wee hours,’ I have strict work cut off at 10:30 pm and try to do something else I enjoy for about an hour before bed, like some reading or watching one episode of a show I like on Netflix. This seems to help my brain transition from ‘grind mode’ to ‘rest mode’ and then eventually to sleep mode! Rest and self-care are necessities to success; chill out so you don’t burn out! Getting sleep is much more effective than working and being tired (and grumpy) all the time. When I wake up after a solid 7-8 hours of sleep I’m in a good mood, feeling optimistic, am just excited to tackle whatever the day has in store for me!”

Tom Burden, Founder & CEO of Grypmat, is a military veteran. That level of discipline has clearly spilled over into civilian life as he’s an early-riser. Like, really early.

“When I am not traveling I am typically up around 4-4:30am and will be at the gym by 5am when it opens. I eat something small before going and then workout for at least an hour. From there I shower and eat breakfast, usually a protein shake and something else to eat. After that I meditate for ten minutes. First two minutes I will stand with my hands in the air and visualize completing three major goals. With the remaining eight minutes I visualize myself doing tasks that I can complete that day to get closer to those major goals. After that it’s around 7:30-8 and I start my work day.”

For Mel McGee, Founder and CEO of We Can Code IT, prior planning sets her mornings up for success. That, and a heavy dose of coffee.

“My big thoughts and prep happen in the car, on the weekends and in the evenings when I have a stream of consciousness. I capture those next steps by creating Trello boards for myself and the team during off hours.

Monday through Friday, I wake up around 6:30, let the dog out, ensure my daughter is up and getting ready, then drop her off at the bus stop for school. I return home, grab a cup of coffee, feed the dog, take the first pass at my email and review We Can Code IT’s Slack channels. I review my calendar for the day. I also catch up on my email during this time. My planning and prep already happened during off hours, so I’m typically in implementation mode by this point. After about an hour of team and external communications, I jump in the shower and officially get ready for the day. As my first meeting, or 8:30 nears, I tear myself away from my laptop and head out for meetings or to the office — typically with a second cup of coffee in tow.”

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