For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. —Steve Jobs

1. If you choose to prioritize first…

There are one million things that you could choose to do in your first hour awake. If you choose to start your day with a daily check list/to-do list, make sure that next to every task you have the amount of time it will take to complete or are allowed to spend on it, so every time you check something off the time goes down and shows you how much progress you are making to better plan your day.

2. Get the uncomfortable out of the way

Do you know about the Brian Tracy’s “eat-a-frog”-technique from his classic time-management book, Eat That FrogIn the morning, right after getting up, you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day (= the frog). Ideally you’ve defined this task in the evening of the previous day. Completing an uncomfortable or difficult task not only moves it out of your way, but it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

3. Get a schedule but stay in the present

If you need to plan for your day, do it consciously. There is nothing wrong with setting a schedule – so long as you do so in the present, meaning that you don’t visualise or go to your plans mentally. If you are writing your schedule, feel what it feels like when your pencil drags along the paper. There are so many subtleties we miss when we are imagining we are elsewhere. Being aware of these small things will bring richness to each moment.

4. What would Howard Schultz do?

The founder of Starbucks Howard Schultz has stated in the past that he spends his first hour with “setting up priorities for the day”. You can set up certain rituals and habits like morning exercise, clearing email inboxes at the end of day, breakfast, running every other day, reading news half an hour in the evening etc. Stick with what works for you and makes you most productive for the rest of the day.

5. 30 Minutes to Thrive

Tony Robbins (popular self-help author and motivational speaker)  suggests setting up an “Hour of Power,” “30 Minutes to Thrive,” or at least “Fifteen Minutes to Fulfillment.” Part of it involves light exercise, part of it involves motivational incantations, but the most accessible piece involves 10 minutes of thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like. After that, visualize “everything you want in your life as if you had it today.”

6. Do you have a plan from yesterday?

Kenneth Chenault once said in an interview once that the last thing he does before leaving the office is to write down the top 3 things to accomplish tomorrow, then using that list to start his day the following morning …This productivity hack stuck with me not just as a great way to help focus/prioritize on key tasks, but also as means of trying to disconnect at the end of the day and allow time for your brain to process and reboot . Kenneth Chenault , CEO and Chairman of American Express.

According to a piece on Business Insider, there are a few pointers we can learn from other successful folks as to how they start their day.

7. Productive mornings start with early wake-up calls

“In a poll of 20 executives cited by Vanderkam, 90% said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 a.m. and is in the office no later than 7 a.m. Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger gets up at 4:30 to read, and Square CEO Jack Dorsey is up at 5:30 to jog.”

8. Stay updated

“GE CEO Jeff Immelt starts his days with a cardio workout and then reads the paper and watches CNBC. Meanwhile, Virgin America CEO David Cush uses his mornings to listen to sports radio and read the papers while hitting the stationary bike at the gym. By the time they get to work, they have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the world. Then, they can get down to the business of changing it.”