My morning rituals to master the day as an entrepreneur

I absolutely love being a physician, because I can see how my work impacts the lives of so many people every day. But my role as an entrepreneur gives me a completely different kind of gratification. There’s no feeling like coming up with an idea, working hard and watching it come to fruition. And when the idea is a success, that’s what motivates me to keep setting new goals—and achieving them.

A lot of successful entrepreneurs share their morning routine, and I agree that the way you start your day sets the tone of how you seize the rest of it and make it count. There is merit to starting the day in a way that nurtures your mind and body while helping you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day and whatever challenges the day brings your way. So, you have to start it on your right side. (Hence, I always wake up on the right side of my bed!)

Kidding aside, I may be a successful businesswoman, but I’m far from perfect. In addition to being a physician and scientist, I’m also a wife and a mom. This means I have to be flexible—and this is actually my best advice for anyone who has lofty long-term goals and works like crazy to achieve them. More often than not, there are things that I “want to do” but then there are things I “have to do.”

Science and medicine are all about the bell-shaped curve, and my personal goal is to spend as much time as possible at the top. Some days aren’t as productive as I’d like, but that’s where flexibility comes in so I can shift my plans as necessary. I always keep the “big picture” in mind so I don’t lose focus. Even if a day or two go by, anything on my “list” will get done sooner rather than later.

I strive to make every day intentional. Here’s how:

#1: Have a plan for the day, but expect the unexpected
Upon waking up around 6am, I prepare for the day by creating an agenda of “must-do” tasks (such as seeing patients, meeting with my staff and joining conference calls) along with “want to accomplish” tasks. When making this daily plan, I remind myself to be prepared for something different—and set a goal to just keep moving no matter what the day may throw at me.

#2: Take time to learn and think
I make sure my morning routine gives me at least 20 to 30 minutes (or ideally an hour) to feed my mind before starting the day. This can be anything from watching motivational videos to scanning medical journals for information about the latest research on topics like weight loss, longevity sciences and new treatments and procedures so I can stay up to date and relevant. Most importantly, this is my creative “thinking time,” when I might identify a white space in terms of my business or even figure out what to tackle next.

#3: Tidy up mentally and physically
Once my mind has had its “breakfast,” I try to squeeze in 15 minutes of meditation or quiet time to organize my thoughts and personal space (although my daughter often interrupts). I can’t function in a messy environment, so I declutter my bedroom and straighten up my closet. Many successful entrepreneurs say their morning routine includes making the bed—and I totally agree with this one.

I do try to get at least 20- 30 minutes of exercise every morning to get my body ready for the day. (Although this may be far from enough, I always dedicate Sunday to my personal health. I’ll work out for two hours, and this helps me feel better about not doing it every day.) Believe me, I’d love to, but I just cannot be part of the 5 a.m. Club. I’ve tried to be a super-early riser, but I’ve realized that if I had to choose between “sleeping for 7-8 hours” and “exercise,” I do far better with choosing to sleep a little more and on those days, I just try to squeeze in a walk at some point during the day or after work. A recent article I read in Time magazine talked about this precisely. “Sleep” and “exercise” are like food and water, you can’t just choose one of the two. As with everything else in life, “balance” is the mantra.

Every morning routine looks different, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. I believe the key for starting the day and setting yourself up for success is being flexible without losing focus of your long-term goals. And most importantly, be kind to your mind and body, and yourself. There’s no such thing as “perfect,” but with realistic expectations, anyone can make every part of their life work.

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