“Doo doo dee dee doo doo...Doo doo dee dee doo doo”

Well, that’s my best impersonation of my phone’s alarm ringtone anyways.

“Can you turn that stupid thing down?!”, Sarah asked.

I’ve tried to adjust the volume in the settings, but Steve Jobs hates me, so the volume turns back up all on its own.

I hit snooze once (why in the world is that even an option) and then I’ve got to get going.

Unfortunately, my alarm clock is on my phone and my phone has given me a lot of little red boxes with white numbers, which means my Lizard Brain has been activated and I must see what they mean.

Fast forward 15 minutes later.

I’m frustrated over an email reply, upset about a text from a family member, and worried about gas prices...again.

And this is all without Facebook or Twitter.

This was 2015 and for years this was my morning routine.

My goal was simply to wake up before the little munchkins in the house did and go as fast as I could.

I would hustle through getting ready, making breakfast, and packing lunches.

Then as the kids got up one by one, there would be hugs, kisses, tears, (when there are three little kids, somebody in the group is always crying) and then I would be off to work.

Once I would arrive at work, I would immediately jump into email and voicemail and start putting out fires.

By 9 a.m. I would feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

I would wonder why I wasn’t getting the important things done every day that was a priority for me.

I started my own side hustle in 2015 and I joined an entrepreneur coaching group.

Now my mornings look much different.

The side benefit of starting a side hustle is that it forced me to change how my mornings were structured.

I couldn’t get away with just getting up and going into each day without a plan or routine.

I had to get focused and be intentional about how I started each day.

Now, my personal routine is to wake up at 5:30 and head to a quiet place in the house.

I’ll pray with a little bit of meditation and visualization. I know that sounds so cheesy, but that little bit of focus in the morning helps me stay on track for the rest of the day.

Then I journal. This includes writing my annual goals every single day and the rest is a free-for-all. Somedays I write only my intentions for the day. Other days I write about the good things that happened yesterday. And some are just an absolute brain dump. I just get whatever is bothering me out on paper so it can live somewhere else for a while.

Now understand, this was not an immediate shift. It was gradual and included a lot of trial and error, but mostly failures.

● There were mornings when I still hit the snooze button as I used to.

● There were mornings that I would just stare at a book and never read a word.

● There were mornings that I was just paralyzed with what I should be doing and ended up frustrated with nothing to show for it.

But that’s just my morning progression and may not be completely relatable to you.

However, a majority of the successful entrepreneurs I’ve worked with over the years have a very similar morning routine.

Very few are successful with the “wake up whenever and check my phone first thing” morning routine.

Below are some of the most common morning routines of successful entrepreneurs. Pick just two or three you can implement tomorrow and you will notice a big difference in just one week.

● Journal — This one is my favorite. I started doing this in 2019 and in one year my income doubled. Maybe I’m giving it too much credit, but the simple brain dump of swirling information in my head was enough to move me up the imaginary happiness scale by a few points every day.

● Meditate/Pray/Visualization — Fill your mind with things that you are thankful for and let go of the things you can’t control.

● Read — Smart people write books. You want to hang out with smart people? Then read!

● Plan — What 2-3 priorities do you want to accomplish today?

● Workout — We always say there is no time to work out, yet we spend 4-5 hours on our phone each day. Exercise will get your endorphins going and clear your mind.

● Work before the sun rises — While I completely buy-in to your values being faith, family, friends, and then work, you may have to adjust your effort in the first couple of years to get your side hustle to take off. And if you need to, set the alarm clock even earlier, shorten the new morning routine and work before everyone else in the house gets up.

As for my morning alarm, I have moved strictly to my FitBit alarm, so I won’t be tempted by my phone and it won’t wake Sarah up.

Charles Alexander is the director of the Small Business Development Center at Vol State.

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