What is your morning routine?
My alarm is set for 6:45am. I sit up and take a quick scan of my phone for emails and top news stories of the day. Then I take a shower, get dressed, and head to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee and make a quick breakfast for myself and my youngest daughter.
At around 7:40am I head out the door with my daughter and we talk as we walk together across Central Park to her school. Then she heads in and I turn around and walk back, usually listening to music or to an audiobook I have going. Occasionally, I divert from this schedule when I have an early morning television news show to go to instead. When I get back home around 8:30am, I dress more professionally and head into my office to see patients, answer emails, go to a scheduled meeting, or work on writing assignments.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
This has more or less been my morning routine for the last decade because I have three daughters, all of whom I’ve made breakfast for and spent time with on the way to school. It’s a great time to talk, uninterrupted. It also sneaks in some walking/exercise time.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
The truth is that I spend less and less time doing my hair and makeup and getting ready overall. As I age, I realize I can waste less time with that and still feel happy enough with the outcome. I just let my hair dry naturally now and I wear less makeup, which seems better for me anyway. This has definitely saved me time in the morning.
What time do you go to sleep?
Most nights I’m in bed around 10:00pm, chatting with my husband and maybe watching some comedy, which we enjoy. It is lights out anywhere from 10:30pm to 11:00pm. My husband gets up at around 5:30am to get to work at his hospital, so we both prefer to go to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I tend to look over my next day’s schedule before bed and, if I have something professional early, pick out what I’m going to wear to streamline getting ready in the morning. I speak with my daughter about her schedule if there is anything I’m involved with so we are on the same page.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I do use an alarm to get up, and I do not hit the snooze button. I don’t like dragging out the process of getting up; I would rather sleep until I need to get up and then get right out of bed so I don’t feel tight on time in the morning.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I usually eat within an hour of getting up. I always have one cup of coffee with skim milk and then a Greek yogurt, a small bowl of oatmeal with some berries, or a handful of almonds or cashews (when I’m not that hungry).
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Two mornings a week I work out with a trainer I have worked with for many years. I do weight training and interval training for an hour, usually from 8:30am to 9:30am. Another two days a week I’ll often run in Central Park for a couple of miles. I have a family history of osteoporosis, so weight training is very important for my bone health and is definitely non-negotiable for me.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I answer overnight email in the morning and daytime email throughout the day, depending on its urgency and my schedule. I try to look and respond periodically, but I may delay something that requires more thought and writing until I can do it properly.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I’m really app-free when it comes to sleep and my morning routine.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
Pretty much the moment I awaken I check my phone for messages, emails, and overnight news.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
I’ve tended to feel that my most important morning tasks are having a bit of time with my kids before getting them off to a good start for the day, as well as jumping on any important news story that has a mental health aspect to it. Balancing both of these is sometimes tricky. If big news has happened, then I might get less kid time; if there is an issue regarding one of my kids, then I might be less attentive to work issues. Mostly these two have coexisted pretty well, though.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
My first morning drink is inevitably coffee, which I love. I realize that I need to work hard to make my second beverage water and that I always need to drink more water than I feel like drinking. I am never really thirsty, so drinking water is something I try to remember to do during the day because I need it, not because I want it.
I usually have one cup of coffee in the morning unless I am having a more leisurely morning or had a less restful night, and then it might be two!
How does your partner fit into your morning routine?
My husband is up and out before me, so during the week we don’t really share a morning routine. On weekends, however, we both sleep in a little later; cuddle up and relax after waking; have coffee together; and talk, read the newspaper, go for a walk, and plan what we need to do and what we like to do together, and with whichever kids are around.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I often sleep later during weekends - until 8:00am or 8:30am - unless my youngest daughter has a race (which is 2-3 times per month), in which case I’m likely up earlier so I can go watch. My husband and I pretty much hang together on the weekends, getting up together, having coffee together, going for a run together, and sometimes getting work done or reading together. We go out most Saturday nights for dinner together.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Given that my morning routine is pretty simple, I don’t find it difficult to do basically anywhere. Of course, when I’m not home, I’m not walking my daughter to school, but the rest all works well anywhere.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
At this point it’s fair to say that I am addicted to my morning cup of coffee, and without it I get a headache, so I’ll always try to find a source of caffeine in some form before noon. When I’m not home and can’t talk to my kids or husband, I likely text or call them for a quick “hi,” “bye,” and “I love you,” at least.
I really like to try to have a low-maintenance morning, because having many things to do just adds unnecessary stress to my day. Having just a few requirements and being flexible about them actually helps me feel more relaxed for the rest of the day.
Photo of Gail by Will Occhiuzzo.