Cameron Russell has worked as a model for clients like Prada, Calvin Klein, Vogue, and Elle for the past decade, using this unique background to bring alternative content and culture to the mainstream.
What is your morning routine?
Every day is totally different. Because I travel a lot for work, and because my workdays are always different, having a routine really means fitting things in around everything else.
If I have an early call time (any time before 6:00am) I usually wake up just five minutes before, pull on clothes, and dash out. If it’s later than that I’ll wake up leaving enough time to have tea, breakfast, and read a few long form articles or part of a book. I use an app called Pocket to save articles (and as of a week ago, share my favorites).
Writing always feels like a gift, I adore being inside someone else’s thoughtfulness, and half the time it inspires me to write a little. Usually at this point I’m on my way to work, but I’ll write on my phone and email it to an account I have just for my own writing and notes.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I don’t like having a strict routine. I try to make space to read and write, but I like starting my day with adventure and unpredictability. For example, sometimes because of jet lag I’ll wake up at 4 or 5:00am, and my partner and I will go to a new part of the city to take a long 5-10 mile walk before our day starts.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I spent thirty days writing as soon as I opened my eyes last spring. It was really fantastic, and I want to get back to that! I am definitely most productive early mornings and late nights because it’s the only time I feel I don’t have to be responding to emails, present on social media, or attached in any way to my phone!
As an experiment, I spent two weeks over the summer getting up at 5:00am and going for a run and meditating before work. It felt fantastic, but also not totally realistic for me as a daily practice.
What time do you go to sleep?
Early! Most of the time I’m in bed by 10:00pm.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase, which means I’ve already thought about what I’m going to wear. I like having the flexibility to get up five minutes before I’m supposed to be any place and jump right in.
I’ll save articles to my phone, or read part of a book, and dive back in when I wake up. I pretty much always have a to-do list going, so when I get up the next day I know exactly where I should start.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I hate getting up with an alarm. If I need to be up at 5:00am, I just go to bed early and usually I manage to wake up before the alarm goes off, so I never use the snooze.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
Usually tea, and depending where I am in the world, whatever is around!
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I like to make space for myself before work.
Whenever possible I’ll try to have an intellectual or physical adventure before my workday starts. The few times that I’ve ended up running on a treadmill or gone to spin class I’ve just thought it’s so much more exciting to spend this energy and time biking or running through the city.
There is so much freedom when you realize your own body, without a car or subway or bus, can get you someplace far away from where you started.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I try (and fail about 20% of the time) to leave email answering until 10 or 11:00am. That gives me a few hours to be really productive.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
Yes. I wear a ton of hats, but all as a freelancer. I probably need to explain what my bizarre work world looks like now…
For the past thirteen years I’ve worked as a model, and I use that background to bring alternative content and culture to the mainstream through multimedia production, mostly with an activist bent. I’ve written and produced a whole host of multimedia projects on topics ranging from climate change, to race, to gender equity (like this story on climate warriors for Vogue, this short for 350.org that garnered over 800,000 views in week one, or this girls and body-image photo series with over 100,000 shares).
I usually have a couple projects I’m working on that I fit in between shoot days, weekends, and plane rides - right now I’m writing a ton, and working on two short film projects, one about media representation and the other around climate change.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
The only routine I really stick to is finding time to read every day. Whether I’m sitting in hair and make up, or on a plane, subway, or taxi, or just at my desk with tea, reading is a really easy great way to start my day.
Right now I’m reading The Problem With Work by Kathi Weeks, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, and The BreakBeat Poets collection.
If you enjoyed reading about Cameron’s morning routine, we recommend watching Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model, Cameron’s TED Talk (one of the top twenty most popular of all time).
Our recommended teaware this week is the OXO Twisting Tea Ball. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.