What is the common thread that links the people we most admire, whether it's successful CEOs, high flying sportsmen or novelists who find the time to, y'know, write a damn book?
You can bet your bowl of cornflakes they know exactly what they're doing with their mornings.
Just as breakfast is the most important meal (your Mum was right), first light is the most important time of day: it is your launch pad, your tone setter, your first step on the road to greatness.
It is also a total drag.
If, like many a 'I'm not a morning person' person, you start most days by succumbing to your alarm 45 minutes late, flailing out of bed and running out the door in a creased shirt without breakfast, you could probably do with tweaking your process a bit.
Here, then, are 9 simple steps you can take to mastering the morning. Good luck.
Use the night before wisely
Every grown adult has cottoned on to the morning minute-shaving benefits of laying out your outfit and ironing your office shirt over Game of Thrones before bed. But what about savings yourself some mental stress by prepping for your working day? Sending yourself an email before you leave the office with tomorrow's tasks will buy you some valuable mental space first thing. And if you want to fake to your colleagues that you're a morning pro, schedule an early morning email to the them with the objectives of the day.
Protect your sleep
Your wind down before bed has a huge impact on the quality of your sleep and thus how you'll feel in the morning. You can read our guide to kicking bad pre-sleep habits here, but know that blue light emitting screens, exercise, the wrong dinner and - shock horror - coffee all have a big impact.
Master your alarm, don't let it master you
Have you ever made a resolution to wake at the first call of your alarm then found yourself totally incapacitated? In the first moments of waking our reactions, alertness and ability to complete tasks suffer due to sleep inertia. This means our decisions are not rational, which is why we hit the sleep button. Try to set your alarm with enough time for a 10-15 minute snooze period before you get out of bed. The longer you continue snoozing the harder it becomes, so only allow yourself one treat. If you can't resist temptation, download an alarm app where you need to complete a task in order to silence the alarm - this will combat the effects of sleep inertia. And if that doesn't work, maybe consider night shifts.
Sweat yourself awake
Level of hormones that help build muscle, like testosterone, are elevated in the morning so exercising early means taking advantage of your natural body cycle. Also, 'fasting cardio' - going for a jog without eating first - is proven to burn fat faster. Then you can factor in the endorphin rush that will put you in a smiley good guy mood for the rest of the day. All in all, exercising first thing is a no-brainers, though if you can't muster a 5K or stint in the gym, this bedroom workout is perfect for the morning and can be tailored for how long you have to spare.
Feed yourself intelligently
Although most people believe a sugar or carbohydrate heavy breakfast will give them energy in the morning, most people are wrong. A breakfast that is high in protein will do the same job without causing a mid-afternoon energy slump. If whipping up avocado and bacon first thing is out of the question, prepare something the night before that you can take with you (you find some inspiration here).And if that looks too time consuming, buy some rye bread and either avocado or salmon on the way into work and assemble at your desk for a healthy and filling breakfast and no cooking needed. Don't worry - everyone in your office with get used to the fish smell after you've been doing it a week.
Every notice what every other mammal does when it first wakes up? That's right: they stretch. Bafflingly, few humans do the same beyond a yawn and a three-second arm raise, even though the long term health benefits are numerous and the short term boost both immediate and enjoyable. Your friend here, unsurprisingly, is yoga. Learn to do a simple, gentle ashtanga sun salutation - a short sequence of standing and lying stretches - a couple of times every morning and feel as supple and energised as a lion (OK, maybe a house cat). Keep forgetting? Lay your yoga mat out on the floor before you go to bed for an instant reminder.
Refresh your face
Even if you are getting plenty of sleep, time spent drinking or in the sun shows on your grill. A good serum can fight signs of aging, bags under the eyes and smooth over blemishes and imperfections in the skin. This is one grooming trick to add to your morning routine that takes less than 5 seconds and will show genuine long-term results.
Put your travel time to good use
Most people use their commute for one of three purposes - starting on their work emails, reading the daily news or staring into space blinking slowly as they listen to mind the gap warnings twelve times. The problem is that none of these are particularly relaxing. Studies prove that 'deeper reading' - books, basically - lower stress levels, which is a better start to the day then stressing over unsent invoices or reading about whichever world disaster you're going to see online all day anyway. If books really aren't your thing, try using the Pocket app to store longer articles you see online to read later - you don't even need internet connection to access them. Or if you can't even manage to keep your eyes open, download one of our recommended podcasts instead.
Most of all, do it the same every day
However much of the above advice you take - or even if you ignore it all completely - the best thing you can do with your morning routine is make it run like clockwork (just ask the military). Not only will doing everything at the same time each morning help you remember to achieve all you want to achieve but, crucially, you'll be eliminating the need to make decisions (the last thing your brain wants to do first thing) and removing stress and panic from your morning. Find a routine you like, repeat and conquer.