I have a confession. You know how on Pinterest, or Google News, or Facebook, or whatever your go-to source for, “I’m bored or procrastinating, give me something enticing to click on …” is?

I will always click on those links that say things like “The one thing all successful people do every morning,” or “The routine of successful people all have this in common.”

It doesn’t matter how many of those articles I’ve read, no matter how many repeat responses I’ve encountered over the years.

I can’t click on that stuff fast enough! I want to be successful. I want to be rich. And while I firmly believe that the best way to get there is to be a game-changer, to zig when everyone else’s zags, I also subscribe to the idea of modeling.

I like to see how successful people run their life and emulate that if it clicks for me. Because they’re clearly doing something right if they have something I want, but don’t have!

So, with that in mind, not that I’m successful to the level of the people I read about, I’m sharing three things I do every morning that I heavily attribute to me getting to where I am with my life and writing career:

(1) I set my alarm for 5am.

You guys are sick of me talking about my early-morning ways on the blog, but damned if the whole “early bird gets the worm” doesn’t ring true for me. I almost always have my minimum 3,000-5,000 words for the day written before 9am, which allows me to consistently hit deadlines, while also having my entire day ahead of me for business tasks and fun stuff.

(2) I write down my goals.

This one’s morphed a little in 2019. I used to review my annual goals every day, as I’d written them in January. I liked to keep them fresh in my mind, and that worked pretty well! But after reading Grant Cardone’s The 10X Rule earlier this year, I’ve been trying something different. I actually write my goals every single morning, and not just my goals for this year, I write what i want out of my life. I put on my glasses, and as I sip my first cup of coffee, I pull out a legal pad and jot down my vision for my future. I want to live in a penthouse. I want to host champagne book signings in NYC. I want to host a writer’s retreat. I want Oprah to mention me. I want to have my own office with a chandelier and cocktail cart in the corner.

I also don’t just blindly copy down what I wrote the day before—I don’t even look at that page! I write down my goals for the future as I’m feeling them at that moment. 90% of what I write is the same from day to day, but every now and then a new vision will pop into mind, and I write that down. The benefit of doing this is that it immediately puts me in a productive mood for the day. Instead of thinking, “I need to write 5,000 words and finish copyedits because they’re due,” I think, “I need to get these books written so that Oprah can discover me!” It’s a small but crucial shift in mindset.

(3) I write down my “Top Three”

Once I’ve reviewed my goals (crucial tip: always do the goals first, as it forces you to think your brain to think about what’s important, rather than what’s easy), I write my to-do list for the day. Writing a to-do list is pretty common, but I have one very crucial distinction. I only write down my top three. The most important three.

If I write more than that, it’s way too easy to look through my to-do list and pick out the easy ones. Yeah, so I may need to order more contacts, but I can do that with a few clicks on my iPhone while I’m brushing my teeth that night. It doesn’t need to take up peak work hours.

Now, in order to remember details like “buy contacts,” I do keep what I call my “brain dump” master list of to-do items in Notion, ensuring that falls through the cracks (because let’s be honest, some days there is more to get done than 3 items!). But every morning, I review that master to-do list again picking out the 3 (and only three!) most important ones, the ones that require the most energy and will have the biggest payoff, and write those down in my Day Designer. I don’t let myself even look at the master to-do list again until the top 3 “hard ones” are done for the day.

Keeping my focus on the top 3 means that I ensure I’m being productive, merely rather than busy (ie, feeling accomplished because I’ve checked off 20 minor tasks for the day, when in reality I didn’t do the task that most needed to be done — starting that business, finishing that book, exercising, etc).

Other details about my morning:

  • I drink two cups of French Press black coffee every morning out of my Tiffany & Co mug. Rarely less, and never more.

  • I don’t love this part of my routine, but it works so well for my productivity that I keep rolling with it, and probably will until my back says “no more.” I work from bed. Not every morning, but most mornings. I bring my laptop, my coffee, my planner, my goal legal pad into the bedroom, climb back into bed, and do some of my best work from there.

  • I go to the gym at 10am. Not every single day, but many of them. It’s the perfect time for me. It’s not too crowded, as most people have gone to work. And since I’ve been up for five hours, I’m ready for a break from the laptop.

  • I eat the same breakfast almost every day. My husband makes me scrambled eggs with feta cheese and spinach. I never get sick of it.

Am I a creature of habit? Yup. Does it work for me? Absolutely.

The first 3 things I do every morning