I've found that how I start my day has a huge influence on how the rest of the day goes.
If I wake up and start rushing forward with whatever plans or duties I have that day, I tend to be anxious all day — this usually leads to one of those days where you end up doing a bunch of stuff but nothing that really takes you toward any long-term goal.
If I awake grouchy or moody (and don't correct it almost immediately), I'll be cranky and sometimes angry all day.
When the morning starts off and I'm in a lounge-around mode, I often stay that way.
At least that's how it works for me.
Some people find that exercise or meditation or music gets them in the right frame of early-morning mind.
For me, what works best and what I've been practicing for a few years now is early-morning walking or bicycling (especially when I'm at the beach) while listening to a good (or decent, at least) motivational book, lecture (TED Talks are great), or podcast.
I like to walk for about 45 minutes, sometimes with a break in the middle if I come across a good sitting spot.
I find that if I include the motivational audio in the walk, I get pretty jazzed up and usually stay that way for the day.
When I miss the self- and audio-talk, I sometimes fall into mild depression, get lazy, and just don't get a lot done that day.
Similarly, at the end of the day, I like to close things up with some motivational reading and soft music in the background. When I do this, I tend to fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly.
Do you have an early-morning routine?
For me, it’s reading and listening to wise people. Over the years, I’ve read thousands of books (in just about every genre) and hundreds of books on self-improvement.
Sadly, I find most of the self-help literature to be not all that good or wise, frankly. Many so-called gurus offer vanilla and generic checklists and activities to help you learn a certain coping skill, whether it’s to stop doubting yourself or any of the other 3,000 things that could possibly be wrong with you. I often feel that some of the writers force themselves to fill pages and pages with rather meaningless worksheets and other administrivia.