“While I definitely feel more productive when I can check everything off my list, I still feel some level of accomplishment even if I get just one small thing done.” – Nicole Gibbons Share this quote on Twitter

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Nicole Gibbons

What is your morning routine?

My alarm is set for 6:45am, but sometimes I snooze and wake up around 7:00. The first thing I do is meditate while sitting up in bed. I call it “beditation!” I have so much more on my plate now than ever before, so meditation really helps me clear my head so I can be more focused throughout the day. I also do a daily gratitude journal using the Five Minute Journal app on my phone.

I’m in the early stages of building a new company, so it’s “all in” 24/7. We’re still all working together in one room for long hours, and it’s because of this that my morning “me time” is so sacred. I’m a true introvert and really need alone time to recharge, to think, and to get focused. On mornings when I don’t have ample time to get centered before work, I feel really frazzled. Typically, after I finish my meditation and journaling, I scroll through my team Slack and emails and glance at my calendar.

By 7:45am, I’m in the shower, and by 8:15 I’m ready to rock. After I’m dressed, I always straighten up my bed and tackle one housekeeping task, such as loading the dishwasher or organizing laundry to be picked up. I spend the next 45-60 minutes in the kitchen with my laptop. I eat breakfast, scroll through news headlines, take care of personal tasks or calls, and catch up on emails and work. I head out at around 9:00am, and my day is pretty full once I hit the office.

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How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

This has been my routine for almost a year, although I’m constantly experimenting with new ideas and trying to find more ways to be productive… it’s a work in progress. On the days when I can get my full morning routine in, I’m so clear-headed and full of energy… I feel like I can conquer the day!

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

My life has changed tremendously since I founded Clare. Previously I was running a small business where I worked from home and had a lot more schedule flexibility. Being the CEO of a venture-backed startup requires more demands on my time, and now that I have an office, a team, and lots of obligations, it feels like most of my time is no longer my own. Other founders who have been at it longer than I have say this will shift, but right now, since I have little free time, it forces efficiency. I’m constantly trying new hacks to help me get more done faster.

What time do you go to sleep?

Typically around midnight to 1:00am. I’m more of a night owl than a morning person.

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

I like to think about what I will wear to work the next day. I never get too dressed up, but I’ve spent so much time in the past trying to figure out what to wear each morning; having that determined in advance makes getting ready more efficient.

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

I use the alarm on my iPhone. There are some days when I wake up before it goes off. I wouldn’t consider myself a morning person, but I also don’t struggle to get out of bed. While I definitely do have days when I hit snooze and need a few extra minutes, my body’s clock is usually pretty precise.

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

I like to be up and dressed before eating breakfast, so this typically happens about an hour to an hour and a half after waking up.

During the week I always make breakfasts that take five minutes or less. I subscribe to Daily Harvest, so my breakfast is often a smoothie to which I add adaptogen powders like ashwagandha and red maca, as well as MCT oil for added energy. My other go-to breakfasts are cashew milk yogurt (Cashewgurt) with fruit, honey, and chia seeds; oatmeal; or a single fried egg with sriracha and avocado. I almost never waver from one of those options during the week.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Not at the moment. When I ran my old business, I used to do morning kettlebell workouts twice a week; since founding Clare, I haven’t been able to find the right balance. I always think of “the entrepreneur’s dilemma”: you can have work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends, but you can’t have them all—there’s only room for three. I’ve chosen to prioritize my company, sleep, and loved ones.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

Yes, I switch between two apps—Simple Habit and Headspace—for guided, mindful meditation. I also do mindful breathing throughout the day.

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

I definitely respond to time-sensitive emails and Slack messages before leaving my apartment, but I save the bulk of replies for my subway commute.

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

I use the meditation and gratitude journaling apps mentioned above—Five Minute Journal, Simple Habit, and Headspace. Usually I have no trouble falling asleep and often crash before I intend to.

Occasionally, if work or life are stressful, I’ll have a hard time falling asleep or will wake up in the middle of the night and won’t be able to go back to sleep. When this happens, I turn on an app called Ananda. It uses binaural beats and tones to help induce my sleep, and it works for me. I also use an essential oil diffuser to help me de-stress at night. Clary sage and lavender are my go-to oils.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Technically, I grab my phone right when I wake up to use the previously-mentioned apps to guide my morning meditations. It’s hard to resist responding to notifications, but I try to hold replies until after I’m up and dressed, unless something is urgent or time-sensitive.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Getting my “me time” in and feeling centered, as well as thinking through how I will prioritize my day.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

After I’m dressed and hit the kitchen, I take my daily supplements with water.

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

I sleep in on the weekend, usually until 9:00am. I never set an alarm, but I almost always wake at 9:00am on the dot when it’s the weekend! I don’t always meditate and I don’t always shower right away. Usually I wake up, brush my teeth, and then make a warm, robust breakfast. I give myself permission to be lazy on the weekend and relax around my apartment for a couple of hours before I shower and get dressed.

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

My routine definitely gets modified when I travel. I tend to get up and out of the hotel much earlier than I would if I were at home, and I never spend any time on personal tasks, so I have more time to get focused. I love going to cafes to sit and have breakfast while I do my daily email and work catch-up.

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

I just roll with it. It’s impossible to flawlessly execute my ideal morning routine every single day, so I try not to beat myself up too much. While I definitely feel more productive when I can check everything off my list, I still feel some level of accomplishment even if I get just one small thing done.

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