“Days when I don’t have my routine suck. They just suck. That’s what keeps me motivated to endure the pain of an early wake-up time.” – Mara Schiavocampo Share this quote on Twitter

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Mara Schiavocampo

What is your morning routine?

I try to wake up between 5:30 and 6:30am. I set my alarm for 5:30am, but sometimes I end up hitting snooze several times. I’m a night owl by nature, so waking up early is absolutely painful for me. I know that it makes a huge difference in my productivity and overall happiness, which is why I push myself to do it even though I don’t want to. But I’m not someone who bounces out of bed. Those first few minutes are brutal.

I leave my phone downstairs in the kitchen so I’m forced to get up and walk down a flight of stairs to turn it off. Then I immediately check messages, all of my social media accounts, and a few news sites. I do this to wake myself up. I stand at the counter and scroll for about fifteen minutes. Then I really get started. I make a double shot of espresso and down it like medicine. I go back upstairs and get dressed in my gym clothes, brush my teeth and hair—the whole routine. I grab my gym bag, kiss my husband, peek in on the kids, and go back downstairs.

I roll out my yoga mat and do about ten minutes of stretching. I read somewhere that physical movement prepares the mind for meditation. I don’t know if that’s true, but it works for me. It also helps to wake me up a little more so I don’t fall asleep while meditating. After stretching I sit on the couch and spend a few minutes reading a spiritual text. Then I do some journaling. Most often that consists of making lists: gratitude, prayers, my intentions for the day (specific tasks I’d like to complete). I pray and then meditate for about ten minutes. I use mala beads and go all the way around once. Then I grab my gym bag and head out to a class—either yoga, spin, or bootcamp. Some days I’ll work out on my own, but I prefer classes because they push me much harder. After class I have a protein shake, shower, and then start tackling the list of intentions I made that morning.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I started waking up early about five years ago because I was working in morning television and the show started at 7:00am. I found that while I hated waking up early, once I was up, I loved it.

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Those days my routine was just wake up and rush out the door to work. My quiet time came a little later, around 10:00am. When I left morning television last year I was really committed to keeping that early morning routine. I’ve been doing this new morning routine for about six months. I won’t lie, though—there are some days when I go right back to sleep because, again, it’s not my nature to be up so early. But I’m working on it.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

When I worked in morning television, I would wake up at the same time, but there was no morning quiet time. From the moment I woke up, I was answering emails, working on stories, etc. Today I use that time to get myself centered and ready for the day.

What time do you go to sleep?

Generally, I go to sleep around 11:00pm, which is part of what makes waking up so difficult. If I went to bed at 9:30pm, I’d be much better off. There’s no good reason for me to be up. I just have trouble going to sleep early because I have lots of energy at night.

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

I try to go through my inbox one last time, make a plan for the following day, and prep whatever’s necessary, including my gym bag and any food I need to take with me. On days when I really have it together, I do a version of my morning routine at night—stretch, read, journal, pray, meditate—but those nights are rare!

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

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who wakes up on their own at the crack of dawn, but that’s not me. I definitely need an alarm. I’d say I hit snooze 50 percent of the time. It all depends on how much sleep I got. Alcohol is also a big factor. If I was drinking the night before—even moderately—it’s much harder to wake up, and I end up hitting the snooze button several times.

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

I’m never hungry in the morning, and I hate the feeling of exercising on a full stomach. I eat one spoonful of peanut butter as I head out the door—just enough energy to get me through my workout. After I exercise I have a protein shake. I don’t have “breakfast” until about 11:30am, and I always eat the same things: turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, and berries. It’s my favorite meal of the day.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Yes, I work out every morning. A day that doesn’t start with exercise is not a good day. I’ll feel sluggish and my muscles will get very tight. I’ll also be kind of blue all day, just in a funk. My body is accustomed to exercise and when I don’t get it, I feel off. I like to do classes because they push me really hard. The harder I sweat, the better I feel afterwards.

Can you tell us more about your morning meditation routine?

I try to meditate every morning, but in truth, it’s probably about four times a week. I have no clue what kind of meditation it is. I just close my eyes and coordinate my breath with the mala beads (one breath, one bead), until I’ve gone all the way around once. It generally takes me about ten minutes.

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

I answer emails as soon as I wake up. I come from a news background where everything is legitimately urgent.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

I check my phone immediately, as a way to wake myself up.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

My most important tasks are to be centered and to make a plan for the day. Otherwise, I feel like I’m playing catch-up all day.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

I down a double shot of espresso a few minutes after waking up. I hate coffee, but I drink it like medicine. I drink it all in one gulp, then chase it with water.

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

My husband wakes up around 7:00am, and most days I’m gone by then. I love having mornings to myself; that’s actually my favorite part of the routine. Everyone is asleep—husband, kids, even the dog. I love having that quiet time just to myself.

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

Weekends are a mess. I really wish I could keep this routine on weekends, but I generally stay up late on Fridays and Saturdays, which makes those early wake-up times impossible. Plus, my kids don’t have school on weekends, so they’re up and about and very demanding, which makes it hard to do what I have to do.

On weekends I generally sleep until someone starts throwing animal crackers at my head; then I wake up and take care of the kids for a few hours. I start throwing animal crackers at my husband’s head around 10:00am, and then he gets up so I can go to the gym. It’s chaos. We’re working on it.

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

I actually do much better in different environments. For some reason it’s easier to wake up when I’m not in my own bed. I guess nothing’s more comfortable than your own bed. When I’m traveling I go through the same routine. Family members and friends are often very impressed that I’ve been up for five hours by the time everyone else is just waking up. I’m the girl who used to sleep until noon. My, how times have changed!

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

Days when I don’t have my routine suck. They just suck. That’s what keeps me motivated to endure the pain of an early wake-up time. I just feel totally out of sorts and like I’m playing catch-up all day. Sleeping in isn’t worth it.

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