Memorial Day weekend is a great time to slow down and recharge the batteries – helping you to be more productive in the long run. But successful leaders and CEOs from Bill Gates to Richard Branson have found the secret to maintaining productivity everyday, not just after those long weekends.


morning routine that primes them for success. Gates reportedly hits the treadmill in his private gym, while Branson tries to spend some time with family in addition to exercising.  

If you’re looking to improve your performance as a leader, your ideal morning routine can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. Here are five things to do every day before 10 am to achieve peak performance.

Get up an hour before you really have to.

Branson is among many celebrated entrepreneurs who swear by getting up early. If you tend to wake up at 7 or eight, consider setting your clock one hour early. At first it may be hard to change your routine, but you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in one quiet hour before emails start flowing and phones start ringing at work. If you’re a night owl, try to turn off the TV and computer an hour earlier, too, so you don’t end up sleep deprived. Getting up earlier won’t help you much if you’re dragging all day.

Eat (a well-balanced) breakfast.

There is some debate about whether this is the most important meal of the day, but if you want to have the sustained energy you need to think clearly, there’s no doubt that eating a healthy balanced meal will make a difference. Whether you make scrambled eggs, a bowl of cereal or a smoothie, there are plenty of healthy options to keep breakfast interesting.

Aside from keeping your motor humming, eating a light meal at home will keep the junk food at the office vending machine from tempting you. It’ll also help you avoid eating the first unhealthy fast food option in your path at lunch because you’re famished.

Charge your battery.

Whether you meditate, exercise or read a chapter of a great book, an activity like this first thing in the morning is like a deposit in your personal energy bank. It will help you approach your day in a calmer way than if you simply woke up and rushed out the door.

You don’t have to do the same thing every day to reap the benefits. For instance, you might opt to do yoga two mornings a week, run twice a week with a buddy and read from a great book every Friday. By making time for these positive activities before the demands of the day overwhelm you, you’ll increase your odds of success. If you wait until evening, your routine will depend on too many variables, like whether you hit traffic or your train was late—and can easily collapse.

Set priorities.

We all have many more items on our to-do lists than we can get done. Decide what one, two or three things you absolutely have to get done before you leave work every evening and quickly confirm those priorities in your mind before you get to work the next morning. Take a look at your schedule to make sure you have allotted enough time to tackle your number one priority and if not, rearrange it. By sending a quick email to reschedule a non-essential meeting to clear the decks before you leave home, you’ll be ready to roll, without interruptions, once you get to the office.

Say “No.”

We all get many invitations to worthy events, meetings and opportunities we don’t realistically have time to do—from coffee with a new acquaintances to volunteer fundraisers. Instead of letting these invitations linger, take stock of any major ones you haven’t answered when you get to work in the morning and say no to the ones that you don’t have time for right now.

It’s not easy to say no. But if you say yes to too many outside commitments, you won’t be able to make a meaningful contribution to any. Plus, in racing from commitment to commitment, you’ll end up shortchanging the biggest ones in your life, like your family, friends and work. The word “No,” doesn’t necessarily mean forever. You can still say yes the next time around. And if you’ve been following your new morning routine, you’ll be so much more productive that you’ll have time to more of the extra activities you don’t have the bandwidth for now.  

You may have today off for the Memorial Day holiday, but getting a head start on making these five activities part of your morning routine is sure to help your productivity levels this week and beyond.