Article by Alison Gutterman

Your net worth might never come close to that of Jeff Bezos, but that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate some of his success, particularly the way he structures his daily routine. Bezos is a big proponent of getting enough sleep, claiming that it improves his decision-making capabilities. This is a good starting point for anyone interested in making the most of each day.

Whether I get my eight hours or not, I’m a firm believer in morning routines. If you start your day with a bit of structure, you can better handle the chaos that is sure to arise. For parents, a good morning routine also allows you to model best practices for your children. Both my kids have ADHD, so giving them a daily framework keeps all of us on track. Quite frankly, it cuts down on arguments, too. When we’re aware of our schedules, we don’t have as much to argue about!

Making the Most of the Dawn

Most people are either night owls or early birds. Regardless of your preference, it’s a good idea to avoid some of the biggest errors so many of us make when it comes to our waking routines.

The first mistake is diving right into your devices to check your email and scroll through social media the second you open your eyes. Doing so will only send you down a rabbit hole that eats up precious time.

Speaking of eating, avoid the morning drive-thru trap. It might seem easier to grab coffee and a donut than to make something at home, but that unhealthy meal can reduce productivity by interfering with your energy levels. The wrong foods can also wreck your circadian rhythms. Unless you want to live in a constant jet lag-type fog, do yourself a favor and learn to feed your body well in the morning.

While you’re at it, activate your creativity and enthusiasm with a bit of exercise. I like to dance, so I turn up the music and do some routines. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you put your all into the movement. It’s a huge, adrenaline-powered kick in the pants. You can do it with your kids, too (at least until they become moody tweens).

A less energetic but equally important morning habit I’ve adopted is setting a daily intention. It could be a word, like “kindness,” “calm,” or “optimism,” for example. I try to live out the word during the day, reminding myself of its importance.

Oh, and I take a few moments to pet our family’s newest member, a cat who just loves her rubs.

Want some more tips to set yourself up for an effective day at work? Here are a few places to start:

1. Organize the Night Before

Before you head to bed, jot down a quick to-do list. It doesn’t have to be all-inclusive; you just need to put your thoughts in order and lay out what you need to accomplish. That way, you won’t have all your responsibilities running through your brain when you try to count sheep at night or as you’re scrambling to get out the door in the morning.

2. Continue Your Morning Routine When You Hit the Office

Your morning routine doesn’t stop when you step out the door. At work, I have a routine of spending informal time with coworkers by popping in for quick chats and remaining visible. As our company grows, I might not be quite so readily available to everyone in the organization, but I’ll still walk around before settling in at my desk. Not only does this open communication between my employees and me, but it also satisfies our collective need for human connection and meaningful conversation.

3. Get the Upper Hand on Emails

Email is both a blessing and a curse. The sooner you take control of your inbox, the less power it will have over your mood. Arrange emails into priorities, tasks, and similar items to maximize your efficiency. If you find yourself reacting to emails throughout your day and not completing must-do responsibilities, you might have to limit your email viewing.

4. Set Aside Some Me Time

When Stephen R. Covey wrote about “sharpening the saw,” he emphasized that doing so would lead to self-renewal and personal enhancement. Set aside time to do what you love each morning, and you’ll become more balanced. Even if you can only give yourself five or ten minutes during your commute to listen to some tunes or an interesting podcast, do it and reap the benefits.

I’m not suggesting that a morning routine will stop you from having crazy days. You will still face those chaotic moments when you just want to rip your hair out. However, when you begin every day with soul-nourishing behaviors, you can navigate the unpredictable without being totally overwhelmed by stress or losing all your productivity.

A version of this article originally appeared on

Alison Gutterman is the president and CEO of Jelmar, the family-owned cleaning products manufacturer of CLR and Tarn-X products. She began her career at Jelmar in 1993 without a title or a desk, and in 2007, she was named president, bringing the company unprecedented success with her modern approach and leadership techniques. She also balances work with parenthood as a single mother of two children, and she resides in the greater Chicago area.

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