“On weekends, this routine goes out the window. I like to let the day guide me; I usually don’t schedule anything early in the morning.” – Leen Al Zaben Share this quote on Twitter

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Leen Al Zaben

What is your morning routine?

I’m such a creature of habit, so a routine is necessary for me to be productive and creative. I do switch things around every once in a while to change things up a bit.

My current routine starts around 7:00am when my first alarm goes off. I need a few minutes to shake off sleep, so I always set another alarm for ten minutes later, which is when I know I have to get out of bed. The first thing I do every morning is put the kettle on (which is my husband’s alarm - he hates the sound of it). I start my morning off with a mug of hot water and lemon followed by black tea. The first cup of tea is one of the luxuries of my mornings, and it’s something I look forward to every day. I then make breakfast or a protein shake if I’m heading to the gym for my morning workout.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I switch routines every few months depending on my mood and my work schedule. I think it’s important to change things around and get out of my comfort zone.

What time do you go to sleep?

I want to say 10:00pm, but that never happens. I like to take some quiet time to read or write in my journal before going to sleep. I find that it’s a good way to disconnect from my day and get a good night’s sleep.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

I wish I did because I like to take my time in the morning, but I almost never do.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

Yes, and always!

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

Breakfast is the reason I go to bed at night. It’s my favorite meal of the day.

I work out three mornings a week, and on those mornings I make a vegan protein shake. On other days, I have black tea with mint, some fresh juice (if I have time to make it), and toast, which I make in the June Oven, with labneh (a Middle Eastern strained yogurt) and sometimes berries or cherry tomatoes. This has been my staple breakfast since childhood.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Yes, I feel it’s a great way to get my day started, and I find that I’m more productive on the days that I work out. I do strength training three mornings a week and my cardio later on in the day.

Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?

It’s not a part of my routine, but once in a while - when I wake up before my alarm or when I’m on vacation - I meditate. I practice Transcendental Meditation, which is a twenty-minute mantra-based practice that works very well for me.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

It depends on how urgent it is. I always take a glance at my inbox shortly after I wake up to make sure I’m on top of my day.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

I’m a pretty good sleeper, but I sometimes use the Bach Flower Remedies’ Rescue Sleep in the evenings to help settle my nerves.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

As soon as I wake up. We have a family chat that I check first - my immediate family members live all over the world, so it’s one of the ways I stay up to date on what everyone is up to. I then check my calendar to see what my day looks like, followed by my inbox.

Confession: I also check Instagram - that’s the best way to wake myself up.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

On weekends, this routine goes out the window. I like to let the day guide me; I don’t usually schedule anything early in the morning. That way, if I need to sleep in, I do; if my husband and I want to go for a walk or a morning coffee, we can. I just go with my mood and see where the day takes me.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

I usually take it as an opportunity to develop a new routine and take advantage of the new space I’m in. I think it’s important to change things and be fluid.


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