How can you get the most out of each day as an innovation leader?

In my work as an innovation leadership coach, I like to remind my clients to build a consistent morning routine that will set them up for success throughout the day.

Why do I think it is so important to have a consistent morning routine as an innovation leader? Well, when I launched Digital FastForward four years ago, I struggled to find a consistent morning routine that provided a foundation for thinking and executing creatively each day. I already had a routine before starting Digital FastForward. But as a new startup entrepreneur, I felt it was even more important to balance workouts, meditation, and creative space in the morning.

For about a year, I sought advice and did research, asking other mindful entrepreneurs “What’s a good morning routine for startup founders?”

After experimenting with different morning routines, here’s what I now do when I first get up in the morning:

  • Hydrate to innovate. I try to wake up somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 AM. The first thing I do when I get up is hydrate. When you wake up, your body is in reboot mode. The system is starting back up. Hydration helps get everything going when you first get up. When I worked as an industry analyst, one of my colleagues gave me a tip: when you’re writing, researching, or doing a lot of mental activity, it’s important to hydrate. Drinking water or juice throughout the day is critical, but I like to get started early. I try to drink at least a half liter of water in the morning.
  • Practice qi-gong or stretching. Once I hydrate, then I usually do some form of physical activity. Sometimes I work out. Another option I find helpful is qigong. Qigong is a martial art, but it’s also a good way of waking up your entire body and mind. You stretch and tap different points on your body. As an innovation leader, you can use qigong to get your day going. When I do qigong in the morning, it helps me stay flexible throughout the day – both physically and mentally.
  • Focus my thoughts and energy. I try to journal every day. I find it super helpful. Sometimes I just write down whatever thoughts are in my head. Other times, I use journals that provide prompts to help me engage with what’s going on with me during that day. On days when I don’t journal, I am usually not as aware of background thoughts that might be playing on autoloop. But when I journal, those thoughts come to the forefront, which helps me stay focused.
  • Meditate to clear my mind. Although I’ve been meditating regularly for over 10 years, I find that it never gets easier with time. But I don’t believe that’s the point. The point is to calm my mind. Meditating for 10 minutes before starting work creates a space and some distance between home and work, even though now they are all the same space. My meditation routine is simple. I set a timer for 10 minutes, then focus on my breath, breathing in and out, until the timer goes off. If you need more structure than that, there are lots of good meditation apps and timers to try. However you choose to meditate, taking time to do it regularly can be powerful.

Find the morning routine that works for you

This is the routine I have created that works for me. You might prefer something different.

No matter what, I recommend building a regular morning routine. That routine will help you boost your productivity and creativity as an innovation leader. If you’re leading a team and you’re trying to think of new ways to innovate, whether that’s driving automation or transforming customer experience, you need a good morning routine to bring the creativity you need to get the innovation outcomes you want.

I challenge you to take stock of the things you do every morning. Think about what’s working for you as an innovation leader and what isn’t.

I shared my practices hoping to create a conversation and learn what works for you. If you have a consistent morning routine that works for you and gets you into a good rhythm, please share it with us! If you’re struggling to create a consistent routine, I’d love to hear what the struggle is.

And until next time, happy accelerating!