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What 16 Successful People Do During Their Morning Routine

Lifestyle |

What you do before you sit down at your desk and open that first email can pretty much determine how the rest of your long day will play out. A morning routine can be a thing of art or chaos in the making. Sometimes you can make a great breakfast, put together a snazzy outfit and finish up a project all before you march out the door. Other days, it is a miracle if you manage to find a matching pair of shoes and get them on your feet. Either way, try to personalize your own version of these success-making morning habits.

Wake up super early

You may still be that in that college mindset that you can wake up 10 minutes before class. You should consider laying off the snooze button. Many high-performing leaders crave extra morning time. A poll of 20 executives found that 90 percent said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays. Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 a.m. and is in the office no later than 7 a.m.

Actress Ellie Kemper also likes to wake up before the sun comes out. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star and Princeton grad told The Cut, “I’m a morning bird. I love getting up before it’s light out, if it’s possible. I wake up, I have a black coffee. I’m an 86-year-old man.”

[Related: 22 Morning Routines That Will Inspire You to Get Out of Bed]

Exercise

For some of us, we can’t imagine stretching in the morning much less running or spinning. For others, exercise is the only thing that will really wake them up. “I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in an interview for O, The Oprah Magazine in 2009. “If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.”

Someone else who makes exercise a part of their daily morning routine is Jennifer Aniston (how else do you think she looks that good?) Her daily morning workout routine includes a spin-yoga combo and then she goes to the gym. “I’ll go do a workout of some sort. I have a trainer, a wonderful woman who I do this spin-yoga class [with]. We spin for half an hour, and then do yoga for 40 minutes. That’s pretty intense,” she told Well + Good. “Then I go to a gym, where I do strength training or just my own thing on the treadmill, the bike, or the elliptical, just to change things up. Keeping your body confused is always the key for me.”

And they aren’t alone. Michelle Gass, Chief Customer Officer at Kohl’s, has woken up each morning at 4:30 a.m. to go running for 15 years (ironically, the woman isn’t relying on coffee.) She believes her morning routine has helped boost her happiness and business success.

[Related: What Your Morning Routine Says About You]

Talk with their family or friends 

Obie Mckenzie, managing director of BlackRock, spends 84 minutes every morning chatting with his wife on their morning commute. He says, “It keeps us connected all day.” If you get some in-person face time with a loved one, then do it! It’s great to have a commute buddy.

Master a fast morning routine

Tory Burch, who runs a fashion empire, has a surprisingly low-maintenance morning beauty routine. She told Into The Gloss, “In the morning I usually walk out the door with a wet head, put my hair in a low ponytail and go out for the day—not very exciting. I don’t blow dry my hair, except when I go to a party, just so it’s a little bit more presentable. I prefer the look of my hair when it dries naturally—not too perfect or too straight.”

Jenna Lyons, creative director at president of J.Crew, says she also has a short beauty routine, but that doesn’t mean she still doesn’t focus on what she is wearing. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I do my makeup in about five minutes, and I get dressed in about three minutes. I definitely don’t have a work uniform. The idea of a uniform is like a slow and painful death to me. There is nothing I like more than getting dressed.”

[Related: 9 Things Successful People Do Right Before Bed]

Eat a Solid Breakfast

A power bar or Pop-Tart may be appealing speed wise but there is nothing like a good filling breakfast to start the day. Kemper told The Cut, “I usually eat some sort of yogurt and granola or almonds. I love oatmeal. I like a healthy whole grain bowl of gruel. I know people eat egg whites and avocado, but I can’t have that. I need a starchy base. When I make it, I add brown sugar, raisins, and almonds. The night before, I’ll soak oats with almond milk, coconut, and chia seeds. It’s not pretty to look at. It is the definition of gruel. I eat it cold. It’s like, cold mush! But it’s delicious.”

Play a competitive game

Going along with exercise, before her daily blow-out at 6:45 a.m. to perfect that famous coif, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour reportedly starts her day with an exciting 5:45 a.m. tennis match, according to The Guardian.

Watch the news 

For some of us, we just want to know what is going on in the world before we go out into it. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was up by 5 a.m. every weekday, even though she stayed up very late the night before (Thatcher wasn’t a big sleeper) to listen to “Farming Today,” a popular broadcast program on BBC Radio 4.

Scandal star Kerry Washington also scans the news post-workout while rehydrating with some coconut water. Unlike Thatcher though, she relies on social media. “Breaking news always hits Twitter first,” she tells Self.

Answer emails

Some people start their morning by getting right to it and that’s okay. Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO, told The Guardian that he gets out of bed immediately when he wakes up at 5 or 5:15 in the morning, either to answer emails or sneak in a workout. “Historically, I would start sending emails when I got up,” he told The Guardian in April. “But not everyone is on my time schedule, so I have tried to wait until 7 a.m.. Before I email, I work out, read and use our products.”

Walk their dog 

Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, walks her dog before 7:30 a.m., even on weekends, to get her day started. “She’ll start walking round the room, and then I will get up and take her out for a walk. I normally walk her for about an hour in the morning. It’s the only time of day I get to myself.”

Meditate

Gwyneth Paltrow gets up at 4:30 a.m. to practice her asanas. ”I’m really not a morning person at all,” Paltrow told InStyle. ”It’s just sheer determination. I’m very strict with myself. When I practice six days a week and eat clean food, I feel much better.”

Make Your Bed

This is the first thing a-list actress and best-selling author Cameron Diaz does when she wakes up. She follows it with drinking a liter of water, meditating for 20 minutes, eating avocado toast or oatmeal, and then working out. The full routine takes her an hour and helps prep her for a full day.

Chug coffee (or green tea)

Lyons says she is a big fan of coffee: “My favorite thing in the world is coffee ice cream, so I try to get my coffee to taste as close to coffee ice cream as I can.”

Eva Chen, former Lucky editor-in-chief who now helms fashion at Instagram, has said she starts her day with a calming green tea. She also puts together an outfit from the shoes up. “It’s a random thing about my morning routine. I don’t watch TV in the morning because I get sucked into it. I’ll end up watching reruns of The OC on Soapnet.” 

Photo: Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

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Topics

tory burch professional women morning routine michelle obama lifestyle 2 jenna lyons health 2 exercise cameron diaz anna wintour

7 Comments

Glad to see that I'm practicing some of the routines mentioned here. However, just wondering what time do most successful people sleep? They wake up so extremely early, so what time do they sleep then?

4mo

It's always interesting to learn and read about other people's morning routines. Personally, I need to get a workout in every morning and drink coffee before officially starting my work day. Everybody is different though.

10mo

When I think of everything I'm missing out on, it's easy to get myself out of bed. I'm always anxious to get a jumpstart to a good day! In fact, I actually wrote about why it's important to get up early even on vacation at http://www.postcardsandpassports.com/ten-reasons-why-you-should-wake-up-early/

10mo

I've actually found that what makes my mornings most successful is the ten minutes I take right before I go to bed-- I get all of my stuff in my bag for tomorrow, hang up my outfit in the bathroom, put water in my spray bottle, and review my schedule. I wake up in the morning and spray my plants while I wait for my breakfast to get hot, then getting dressed and doing makeup takes just ten to fifteen minutes. From there, I know all my work stuff is already in my bag and I can avoid the morning-brain problem of leaving important stuff behind! I'd love to wake up even earlier than I do now, but I don't see it happening because I need those 6 hours of sleep.

10mo

I love the idea of waking to a good scent. It makes your morning start off relaxing

1y

This year I've taken on the challenge of working on a morning routine and it is definitely worth it. I feel like it sets the tone for my entire day. Before, I just did my best to just get out the door on time and started the days frazzled. Not a natural morning person, it was a struggle, but the more I do it, the easier it becomes.

2y

Most successful mornings start with an energy boost. Although most grab the usual cup of coffee, a great alternative is an energy water. For example, HYDRIVE Energy Water provides an early morning boost at only 30 calories. HYDRIVE Energy Water provides the light and refreshing taste of a vitamin-enhanced water with the boost of an energy beverage. This vitamin-enhanced energy water’s various formulas have added benefits from antioxidant to focus.

2y
Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the Editor at Large for Levo League. Before that she was the Editor in Chief of The Grindstone and was on staff at Business Insider. She has written for magazines including Marie Claire, SELF, Women's Health and Cosmopolitan. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys SoulCycle, jogging and playing with her Yorkshire Terrier Otis, who also loves SoulCycle.