Science of Success

Tim Cook wakes up at 4 a.m.—here's the rest of the morning routine that sets him up for success

Apple CEO Tim Cook prepares to greet customers that will purchase a new iPhone at an Apple Store in Palo Alto, California.
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Tim Cook knows how to get a jump on the competition.  

Cook is one of many successful leaders who wake in the wee hours and rely on a strict morning routine that sets them up for success. The 58-year-old revealed in a recent Axios interview that he starts each day by rising just before 4 a.m.

He then spends the first hour of every morning reading user comments about Apple products. He says doing this helps him "focus on the external people that are so important to us."

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, unveils new products during a launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York on Oct. 30, 2018.
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Next, Cook gets in some morning exercise. "I go to the gym and work out for an hour," he says, "because it keeps my stress at bay."

Cook, who once described himself as a "fitness nut" in a Fortune interview, has a morning routine similar to those of many other successful leaders. In fact, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson have all talked about the importance of waking up early to exercise.

"I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn't always placed importance on my health and fitness," Branson once wrote in a blog post.

And like lots of less famous folks, Cook is trying to use his smartphone less than he currently does, with the help of the iPhone's new Screen Time feature. "My notifications are declining, the number of times I pick up a device are declining and the only reason they are is because we built this functionality into our operating system and I now know what I was doing," he told Axios. 

In October, Chris Bailey, author of "Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distractions," shared a few suggestions with CNBC Make It for those looking to kick a smartphone addiction, including putting the phone in grayscale, disabling notifications and leaving it in airplane mode for several hours each day. According to Bailey, for every minute you spend taming the many phone-related distractions you face, you gain an extra 10 minutes in productivity.

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Tim Cook says Apple founder Steve Jobs had this unique gift
Tim Cook says Apple founder Steve Jobs had this unique gift