Personal Growth

The 3 Big Differences Between the Routines of the Rich and Poor

If you're an ambitious type who's focused on achieving great things, you're no doubt looking for any leg up you can get. Countless articles and blog posts suggest one in particular: copying the morning routines of super successful icons. But are these various schedules and hacks just personal quirks of this or that billionaire, or is there a general pattern? Luckily, a recent survey has something to say about what the morning routines of high achievers look like.

Related Video: 10 Billionaires Who Went from Rags to Riches

The Routines of the Rich and Famous

A recent MSN poll aimed to find out using a combination of traditional polling and big data techniques that adjusted the raw data to better reflect America's actual demographics. It wasn't exactly a peer-reviewed study, but "It's as accurate as a traditional scientific survey," according to MSN and a write-up of the findings by their partner Business Insider.

In some ways, the results show the routines of all income levels were much the same — half of us ignore Mom's advice to always eat a healthy breakfast, and few Americans of any income level lay out their clothes the night before. But the poll did uncover a few differences between the routines of high-income and low-income earners.

1. Rich people plan out their days.

Do you go with the flow and adapt to whatever the day throws at you, or do you plan your day out each morning or the night before? Your answer probably depends on your income level. Nearly half of the super-rich plan out their day — if not before they go to bed, at least before they get started that morning.

2. Rich people are more likely to work out in the morning.

To be fair, very few of us actually manage to squeeze in a full workout in the morning, but high earners are over-represented among this health-minded group. More than 1 in 10 Americans earning $175,000 a year or more hits the gym in the morning, with that percentage declining steadily as incomes go down.

3. Rich people watch less TV news in the morning.

Middle-class and wealthy people prefer to get their news online instead. People with lower incomes tend to switch on cable news.

There are significant limitations to these findings, of course. Just because these behaviors are correlated with higher incomes doesn't mean they in any way cause higher incomes (it's pretty easy to see why someone juggling minimum wage jobs wouldn't have much time or appetite for a morning workout), but taken together, they do suggest at least one overarching difference between how the better and worse off approach their routines.

The Best Routine Is a Personalized Routine

Planning out your days, making time (and finding energy) for a workout, and opting to actively select your news rather than passively let Fox or CNN wash over you all suggest intentionality. They are effortful things people actively choose rather than the default options that just happen when you go with the flow or do what's easiest.

So while there's little that's identical about the morning routines of the super wealthy — for instance, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos tend to get up relatively late and Richard Branson and Tim Cook are extreme early risers — it does seem that high achievers are more likely to consider their own rhythms and preferences and thoughtfully develop a routine that works with them.

Neither this study nor any other will be able to tell you exactly what you should do each morning to boost your chances of success (Meditation? Journaling? A run? Trashy TV?). But what this study does reveal is that the successful are more likely to actively design their routines. If you're going to copy a high-achiever, do it by planning your routine the way you want it. Here are some ideas to get you started.

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For a close look at the morning routines of famous artists and writers throughout history, check out "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work" by Mason Currey. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Jessica Stillman November 13, 2018

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