THE_BLOG

Optimize Your Morning Routine, Part 1: The Walk

When coaching my clients on this, I get them to focus on the little things first--the daily routines and habits that ensure they're locked in and ready to give the day their best effort. And I've found that there is no time more pivotal to creating the day's momentum than in the morning.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

How do successful entrepreneurs optimize their businesses and personal lives? They lower pressure and noise.

This is one of the most widespread issues entrepreneurs face in attempting to realize their visions and build companies. Entrepreneurial Personality Types (EPTs) have to be able to decrease the amount of pressure and noise we deal with on a daily basis, the operational drag (things that slow us down), so that we can put our full attention and maximum effort into the activities, initiatives and relationships that matter.

When coaching my clients on this, I get them to focus on the little things first--the daily routines and habits that ensure they're locked in and ready to give the day their best effort. And I've found that there is no time more pivotal to creating the day's momentum than in the morning.

The Morning Routine

The morning routine has been an important staple of successful entrepreneurs' lives for as long as there have been entrepreneurs. Just look back through the biographies of Jefferson, Franklin, Edison or Carnegie and you'll see the pattern. All of them were especially intentional in the early part of the day. My morning routine has evolved over the years and, for me, I've gotten it down to an exact science. I won't get into the full process here (I'll save the rest for future posts), but I'll touch on one of the most vital aspects of it: the morning walk.

Every single day I wake up early, hyperhydrate and then walk outside for 20 minutes. Now this isn't a groundbreaking or shocking practice by any means. For years, science has shown that walking can have long-term effects on serotonin levels and mood throughout the day. But I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people still don't realize the full benefits this habit can provide. And there are a few elements that I've added to my 20-minute walks that really amplify these benefits.

Wear proper footwear
I wear Vibram FiveFingers® on my morning walks because they allow my feet to respond naturally to the ground (I try to walk on natural surfaces instead of pavement). People underestimate the constraint and physical damage that closed-toe, heavily padded shoes can have on the body. And when I wear Vibrams, I can feel the muscles open up in my feet, legs and back so that I can start the day loose and relaxed. The feet have one of the highest concentrations of nerve sensitivity in the body and you'll be amazed by how walking on multi-plane surfaces with minimalist shoes can improve your posture, alignment and natural movement over time.

Lower artificial stimulation
This one's a little weird, but I wear blue blocking glasses (I prefer Gunnar) before stepping outside so that natural light is the first thing my eyes are exposed to in the morning. According to the Vision Council, 65% of American adults experience eye strain due to extended periods of screen gazing. This can have a negative effect on your eyes, back, neck, circadian rhythm and serotonin levels. The glasses I wear are specifically designed to block out the harmful, high frequency blue light emitted by our screens. And though it may seem a little "out-there," I promise you'll be able to feel a decrease in eye strain that occurs over the course of the day.

Focus on your breathing
During my morning walk, I inhale for 7 seconds and exhale 7 seconds through the nose. Not only does this type of intentional breathing put the optimal amount of oxygen into the bloodstream, it'll calm your heart rate and quiet your mind.

I also like to leave my phone at home during this time so that I can focus on being as present as possible.

The intention this ritual has provided in my life has been absolutely instrumental to my success. If you're not walking for 20 minutes every morning, I challenge you to try it--just once--and see how much better you can feel throughout the day.