How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Read 289 answers below or select another question.

John Zeratsky · Author, Designer

Until 2017, I was working in a full-time office job at Google Ventures. I would wake up about an hour earlier so I could have my full morning routine and still get to the office at a normal time. This worked well, but now I’m self-employed and set my own hours. Waking up later gives me better energy throughout the day and more flexibility when it comes to evening plans.

There are two changes I’m experimenting with right now:

  1. Waiting longer in the morning to look at my phone or laptop. This is a tough one for me. I like maintaining control over my attention in the first few hours of the day, but I also like to use that time for important work—and for me, that work usually requires a computer.
  2. Using a “calendar template” to consistently plan my mornings. This is a separate calendar where I plan out my days based on what I know about my energy cycles and what I want to make time for. Instead of starting from a blank slate, I’m experimenting with starting from a full calendar and making changes to that plan only when they are truly worthwhile and necessary.

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Kate Nafisi · Designer, Finisher

I think routines should flex and change. Mine feels like a dynamic, malleable thing that emerges organically, rather than a ridgid set of steps I have to follow or plan for.

I have experienced an 180-degree change in the last year. The “old” Kate used to check her messages as soon as she woke up (balancing her phone on her nose), drank her coffee by the bucket, and did not eat until she got to work. I was rushed, and I often underslept.

When I became a woodworker, I couldn’t just stop drinking coffee—I was addicted! I couldn’t simply switch off my adrenal habits in the morning, either, so I often awoke feeling like I should be somewhere or I was late for something the first few months. So there was definitely a transition period.

My shift to a simpler life means I have more time to experiment with a morning routine and to take it slow. And I can go to bed much earlier because my previous commute time (7:00-9:00pm) is now my winding down pre-bedtime.

Wilf Richards · Coop Co-Founder

The whole concept of a morning routine is relatively new to me. I still can’t quite believe that I do have one. It feels very different from what most of my friends would do. My routine is checked and tweaked on a regular basis, for example I recently added in “Kiss Beth” (my partner) after reading something similar in your book. I keep a note of my current ideal routine in Evernote.

Josh Gross · Founding Partner at Planetary

It hasn’t varied too much in the past few years. The biggest change has been getting a dog, which means that I’ve had to add feeding and walking the dog into my mornings. I walk the dog right before beginning my workday, which has been a nice way to transition my mindset from whatever I was reading in the morning to my focus for the rest of the day.

That being said, I’ve experimented a bit with introducing some variation into the routine. Last year I added 6:30am spin classes on Fridays, meaning I’d wake up at 6:00am and—before coffee or anything else—walk to class. I recently took a break from this but intend to pick it up again; it was a nice way to end the week and add some variation to my mornings.

Paul Murphy · Third Grade Teacher

I hear about people who get up and exercise, or they write for an hour, or they meditate, or they do some other productive thing first thing in the morning, and I have no desire to emulate them.

I can’t say a lot for myself, but I can say one thing: I know me. And I know that I prefer nights to mornings. I know that I need seven hours of sleep. I know I have zero appetite until about 10:00am. And I know I’d find little joy in working out before the sun is up. The changes I’ve made have come about as a result of having a child and changing school districts. Unless some other big changes are on the horizon, I don’t anticipate altering my routine.

Denise Lee · Founder of Alala

I try to be very conscious of when my brain is the most productive and utilize that time to come up with the best ideas. I’m actually about to start experimenting with moving my workout to the evening in an effort to dedicate the entire early morning to my mental focus and the workday ahead of me.

Amy Nelson · CEO of The Riveter

The one thing that’s really changed about my routine is where I work out. Before I welcomed my third baby, I was able to go to an incredible local gym for HIIT classes three or four times a week at 5:00am. When my third daughter arrived, I took some time off from exercising in the “fourth trimester,” and once we were through that period, both my and my husband’s travel schedules really ramped up. My husband and I were alternating “travel weeks,” so he was out of town when I was in town. I wasn’t able to slip out at 4:45am and leave the kids alone (of course!), so we decided to build a makeshift gym in our basement.

Rick Smith · Founder and CEO, Axon

Driving my kids to school is a relatively new addition. Like a lot of parents, I use it as a forcing function to get my morning moving. Because there’s not a specific time I have to be at work, this helps me be a bit more disciplined in getting out of bed and starting the day. Plus, it gives me extra time with my kids, which, as any busy parent knows, you take where you can get!

George Foreman III · Retired Professional Boxer

I used to spend more time communicating in the morning via email, phone, and text. I found that by the time I was done, my creative juices were drained and I had no bandwidth for high-level thinking.

When I was a fighter my routine was very strict:

  • 4:30am: Wake up, take a hot shower, and hydrate.
  • 5:00am: Light stretch, run 3-6 miles (depending on where I was at in training camp). Deep stretch when the run is over.
  • 6:00am: Shower and cook breakfast: Eight eggs, six slices of toast, a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, and a cup of hot tea.
  • 7:00am: Back to sleep.
  • 10:00am: Wake up, answer phone calls and emails, and read boxing news.
  • 11:00am: If I was at the beginning of a training camp, this is usually when I would chop wood for a couple of hours. That would be followed by lunch, a nap, and watching fight tapes until it was time for an evening training session in the boxing gym.

Carly Stein · Founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals

My journaling and meditation practices have evolved quite a lot. I started with just five minutes of meditation every morning, but now I really try to focus on prioritizing my gratitude practice. Humans tend to focus on the negative (survival instinct), so it’s so important to consciously cultivate gratitude. I also started with The Artist’s Way a month ago, inspired by one of my amazing team members.

Shirley Meerson · Wellness Coach

Life is about education and fine-tuning. Due to my lifelong passion being focused on holistic health and my experiments with healing technologies, I have changed routines many times. The current routine has another addition: oil pulling is something I do in spurts and I find it to be a wonderfully positive experience.

Hayley Leibson · Serial Entrepreneur

I moved to San Francisco from London three years ago. When I was living in London, and for a while when I moved back to San Francisco, I was marathon training, so I would run in the early mornings.

A few years ago I did an intensive month of yoga teacher training in the remote jungles of Costa Rica. I’ve since made yoga and meditation an essential part of my morning routine.

Sarah Morgan · Digital Strategist

When I was first self-employed I was thrilled to be working on my own schedule, so I opted to skip the alarm and allow my body to wake up on its own—and it was glorious. I’d usually get up around 9:00am. It’s much easier to jump straight into work when you’re listening to your internal clock.

Last year I included a gratitude practice in my routine. More than putting me in a positive mindset, it allowed me to see which things I repeatedly wrote down that I’m grateful for. Quiet days just for writing was a big one, so this year I’m working on incorporating more of those into my week. I’m still doing my gratitude practice, but it’s more sporadic. It usually happens while I’m watching TV in the morning. I think it’s becoming less of a priority because I’m up earlier and I’m less awake as I start my day.

This year I’ve added in a manifesto of sorts—kind of like a longform version of affirmations. It’s essentially an article I wrote about myself and my accomplishments ten years in the future. Reading it (just before I start working) helps to ground me in a bigger version of what I can accomplish and fills me with excitement to dive into the tasks that will help me get there. (Apparently, I have three dogs in the future, so maybe I should add in a morning dog walker, too?)

Tina McCorkindale · President/CEO, Institute for PR

I’ve been fairly consistent, except for about six months ago, when I started putting on street clothes when I wake up. Before that, I wore my pajamas so much that my kids would call me “Mama Pajama.” I realized I felt better when I was dressed. Plus, the Amazon drivers wouldn’t have to see me in my jams.

Sam Crawford · Blogger, The Man Blueprint

I am currently experimenting with the aforementioned Wim Hof method, which is going really well so far. I often experiment with taking out the essential oil inhalation, as sometimes I just can’t be bothered to boil the kettle—extremely lazy, I know!

Things I have experimented with in the past are inversions, Kegel exercises (beneficial for men too, apparently…), affirmations, meditation (I now do this a bit later in the day), jump rope, and journaling.

Jean Chatzky · Financial Editor, The Today Show

For twenty-four days and counting I’ve been trying to meditate first thing. I put the Headspace app on my phone. I started with five minutes and increased pretty quickly to ten. I recently watched the tutorial that asked, “Am I doing it right?” Quite frankly, I’m not sure. But I don’t think I’m doing it wrong, either.

Gideon Akande · Celebrity Fitness Trainer

Over the course of several years, my morning routine has changed in many ways. For instance, I used to wake up and exercise to start the day. Now my mornings start with training clients before I get to my own workouts. Now that I’ve moved much farther from where I work, my mornings include a forty-five-minute commute, which I use to mentally prepare for the challenges of the day.

I mentally prepare by checking messages (via email, social media, and text) and getting back to the most pressing ones. Then I map out where I need to be and when, so I’m aware of exactly how tight my schedule is that day.

Mara Schiavocampo · Emmy Award-Winning Journalist

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.

Josh LaJaunie · Runner

My morning routine used to be to wake up and head to work, stopping at McDonald’s en route every damn day. I’d say it’s changed significantly since those days.

Even now my routine morphs and changes in complexity based on the specific race I’m getting my body ready for. For instance, I’ve gotten up at midnight to get mid-week long runs in, and I’ve taken hours in the middle of the day to get in good heat training.

To me, it’s about being flexible to my needs. Having a routine is great, but only if it serves your goals. If it’s not doing that, it’s called a rut.

Lauren Berger · Founder of Intern Queen

I used to try working out first thing, or piling a lot in before work, but I enjoy moving at a slower pace in the morning—being productive but not too crazy. I also used to schedule a ton of calls before 8:30am, but now I try to avoid this so I can get my outgoing tasks accomplished.

Sabrina Zohar · Co-Founder of Softwear

A couple years ago I made a big change in my life: I cut out cigarettes, sugar, and prescription anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication; and I took my first yoga class in seven years. Since that day I have constantly evolved and changed my routine. I don’t believe one blueprint works for all. I assess what my needs are at the time and how I can accommodate them. I am working to go longer without grabbing my phone the minute I open my eyes, but that is just my anxiety rearing its ugly head!

It’s only been two years since I cut those things out, but it’s always a struggle and a daily practice. Cutting cigarettes was easy, but cutting medication was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever endured, both mentally and physically. I now feel healthier, stronger, and, for the first time, confident in my perseverance and motivation for change and growth. If you can make it through your hardest battle, you start to realize how strong you really are.

Liz Fosslien · Illustrator

I used to be less obsessed with prioritizing my to-do list. As I’ve gotten older, time feels like an increasingly rare commodity, so I try to be more mindful of how I use it. I’m careful to avoid doing a bunch of easy tasks just to get that “crossed-an-item-off-my-list” dopamine rush. Cleaning your desk, for example, is a relatively quick activity, which means you might choose to do it instead of sending that long, difficult email. And while you’ll have made your to-do list shorter, you won’t have moved your work forward in a meaningful way.

Tara Hanrahan · Corporate Spa Director

One of the interesting facets of my morning routine is that there’s a lot of decisions to be made in the moment (e.g., “What will I wear today?” “What bath oils shall I use?”). This is quite different from a lot of other people who try to minimize decision fatigue in the morning by preparing everything ahead of time or deliberately not having many choices available. I tried that—I put together my wardrobe for the week ahead and hung it on a clothes rail, I decided ahead of time what bath oils to use, etc. It didn’t work for me. I love being able to ask myself “What do you feel like today?” and go from there. It’s quite nurturing and helps me live in the moment.

A few months ago, I also experimented with seven days, seven chakras. Mondays were all about the root chakra—grounding and the color red. For breakfast, I incorporated fruits like strawberries and pomegranates. My affirmations were based around feeling safe and centred. I mixed my bath salts with frankincense and patchouli. Tuesdays were focused on the sacral chakra (orange fruits), Wednesdays were solar plexus chakra, etc. But it was too constricting for me; again, I feel free by making decisions in the moment.

My current routine has got me to where I am today—feeling so much better about myself, excited to wake up each day. It will be interesting to see what changes I make in 2019. Will my current routine remain the same or will it lessen? I’m not sure. I can say I am still very much enjoying it now.

Jules Clancy · Cookbook Author

My mornings currently consist of less work and more journaling, affirmation, and gratitude time. I’ve been experimenting with adding visualization exercises.

Catherine Duc · Grammy-Nominated Composer

My main routine has been fairly consistent since I started working (I’ve only missed breakfast once!), but I’ve added some things in over the years, such as listening to podcasts and reading during breakfast.

Nicole Gibbons · Interior Designer

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.

Sam Conniff Allende · Serial Entrepreneur

I used to make long lists and get frustrated when they were never completed. Then I realized it’s about trying to “do less better” and finding maximum impact opportunities. So, now I try to write a list of no more than five things. (In the last couple of years I’ve realized that if I could write a list of just one thing, that would by far be the best way to start the day.)

Jeremy Anderberg · Editor and Podcast Producer

We are indeed always experimenting, but it’s more due to natural changes in the kids. The three-year-old is sort of on cruise control, but the nine-month-old is still changing every couple months. Again though, even on weekends, it’s coffee and reading for at least thirty minutes before kids are due to be up.

Once the youngest has a more normal schedule, we’ll wake up just a little later, but that will be about it. Great coffee and a great book is a routine that needs not changing! Our mornings are not necessarily about efficiency, but about trying to squeeze in some calm before the storm.

Sabrina Hall · Multidisciplinary Designer

Over the years my routine has continually changed. Alongside my move to working out early in the day, I am learning to focus my energy in the mornings before the day becomes busy with various tasks. My morning time is very precious to me, as it is a dedicated time of self-care. I used to attend to emails first thing in the morning, but they do not belong in that space anymore; I find that they can be more distracting than helpful for me.

Dempsey Marks · Personal Trainer

I’m always experimenting with my routine. The most important thing for me is simply having a routine and sticking to it. For a while, I was waking up later and immediately getting on my phone and social media, which was not a positive or productive way to start the day. Prior to that, I started work at 5:30am most mornings, so my routine was a lot shorter.

Currently, I’m focusing on not spending time on my phone in the morning.

Zara Terez Tisch · Co-Founder of Terez

Over the past two and a half years I’ve had two kids and now a third puppy! The time that I wake up has definitely gotten earlier and earlier… and the me time has gotten less and less. Nowadays I just try to be as quick and efficient as possible.

Professor M.S. Rao · International Leadership Guru

Previously, I woke up at 3:00am. I did that every day for five years. I changed to 4:00am five years ago when I started doing heavy physical exercises. My body needed more sleep, so I began waking up later.

Susan Lin · Lead Product Designer, Cloudflare

Yes. I have a vision and am making it happen one step at a time. These changes have to do with the night before.

I recently read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Before getting Mango Roll, I enjoyed sleeping in past 10:00am and even up to 1:00pm on the weekend. That aligns with the book’s findings about a night owl’s natural rhythm and making up for weekday sleep debt on the weekend.

The book also explains why caffeine causes chronic sleep debt. I’ve tried and failed to quit coffee several times. Offboarding caffeine is a struggle because I do like the taste of coffee. However, while I can fathom giving up coffee, I can’t imagine giving up tea.

My ideal morning routine would be scaling coffee down to tea. And making sure I don’t use anything with an LED screen after sunset the night before. In theory, this means my mornings will become easier. In practice, society isn’t set up to make this an easy change. We have a social caffeine and overwork culture to overcome.

Why We Sleep also made society’s discrimination against night owls clear. I’m trading off a productive chunk of time for enough sleep. Too bad systemic change doesn’t happen overnight. Haha, pun intended.

Dr. Anthony Youn · Plastic Surgeon

I occasionally do some positive affirmations and practice gratitude in the mornings. I also check my email on my phone in the morning, as well as any news that has occurred overnight.

Danette May · Health and Mindfulness Expert

My routine has been working for me, so I do not deviate too much from it. I travel a lot for work, so I try to be flexible with my morning routine, but two things remain constant.

  1. Lemon water: If I don’t have access to fresh lemons, I’ll use lemon essential oil.
  2. Getting out in nature. If I’m in New York or Los Angeles for work, I still get up early and walk outside while expressing gratitude to myself and reciting my “I am” affirmations.

Jamie Melzer · Fruit Jerky Entrepreneur

I used to watch the news and check news stories on my phone every morning, but it was giving me anxiety, so I stopped. Sometimes I feel a little disconnected (which is a radical shift from how I used to feel as a news junkie, sitting in front of a Bloomberg terminal all day), but I’m more productive and less stressed without it. I still get news alerts on my phone, so I don’t miss out on anything big.

I recently started running in Central Park, and I’m hoping to make that more of a habit. It’s such an efficient workout, and I think it’s important for us New Yorkers to get a little bit of nature in whenever we can.

Suzanne Gibbs Howard · Dean of IDEO U

I’m always tweaking my routines and rituals. For example, I’m a morning workout person. If I don’t work out in the morning, it doesn’t happen. And if I don’t get enough exercise, I’m not as nice of a person. (I like to be nice.)

Recently, I’ve gotten back into climbing because I found a great workmate who loves it too. I also started working out with a coach another morning a week. The big idea [for me] is to get exercise in before the day gets too hectic, and to use the sweat to set the stage for greater calm.

John Jantsch · Small Business Marketing Consultant

When my kids were young this was more of an attempted morning routine. I would still get up early and try to squeeze some of my routine in, but the pace was different as my routine—at least the part that was solo—had the deadline of my kids waking up and becoming little tyrants. Or maybe I became the tyrant trying to get them dressed and ready for school?

Jake Knapp · Productivity Author

A few years ago, my son got old enough to walk to school, so I merged that with my exercise routine. It’s really awesome to have the chance to talk with him, because he’s one of my best friends. The walk goes through a park, which is a bonus (it’s so nice to have a little exposure to nature when you live in the city).

The “highlight” idea is also from the last few years. I’ve been a dork about time management for a long time, but I’ve recently realized it’s important to do less but to do it better.

Right now I’m experimenting with using the Headspace app before I start working, which is great when I can make myself do it. Counterintuitively, it seems I get more done even when I take the time to meditate. And I’m trying not to check my email until after lunch.

Ashley Eckstein · Actress, Fangirl Trendsetter

I’m working on getting more sleep. I’ve discovered how important sleep is for both my mental and physical health. I’ve found that I need eight hours of sleep. I don’t always get it, but I try. I’m not afraid to adjust or shorten my morning routine in order to get more sleep!

Krista Suh · Activist, Screenwriter

It’s taken me time to make this morning routine, and a big breakthrough I had for it was when I invented the Midas Touch exercise that I share in my book. One day, I decided to write down everything I touched in the day, i.e. every object I literally laid my hands on. That exercise made me realize that my morning routine did not feel good—I had scratchy sheets, my notebook and pen were way over on the other side of the room, I was thirsty and did not have water by my bed. It sounds small and unimportant, but making these little changes (turning these moments into gold like using the Midas Touch) was huge in improving my morning routine into something that worked beautifully for me.

Also, it took me several years to confidently lay down boundaries about my morning time. A rule that helped me was I decided that only five times in a year would I set my alarm—that way if I had an early morning flight to catch or something, I could use one of my five “mulligans” and set an alarm.

I’m always fiddling with my routine, I’m just obsessed with self-development that way! Currently, I’m trying to get better about flossing and applying sunscreen in the morning. The eating yogurt or eggs in the morning is pretty new, because left to my own devices, I often skip breakfast and have an enormous lunch or dinner instead. I’m the type of person who can forget to eat because I get so sucked into what I’m doing. I’m also experimenting with working out in the morning vs. the afternoon. At peak healthiness I work out with a trainer five times a week for an hour in the gym in my building. I used to feel really guilty about having a trainer, but now she is like a friend and adviser to me. I love having my workout “done” simply by seeing her, and that means anything I do beyond that, like taking a walk or going to a dance class, is a fun “extra” because my baseline workout is taken care of.

I’m also currently looking for a good breakfast-in-bed tray because I’ve finally given in to my “embarrassing” work-in-bed habit, and now that the shame is gone I’m really eager to maximize it with cute helpful accessories like a tray. I’m also thinking of getting an Amazon Echo and keeping my phone out of the bedroom, because oftentimes the phone is really only there for me to check the time, and I could easily ask Alexa, “Alexa, what time is it?”

Ashley Turchin · Co-Founder of ANTHOM

Before I launched ANTHOM, I worked in law which was a very regimented schedule with long hours. Part of that monotony is what made me want to start my own company. Five years later, I work longer hours, but I’m having a lot of fun which is very rewarding. We also recently relaunched ANTHOM’s website, which means I spent many early mornings photographing product. On those day, I definitely needed an alarm clock to wake me up before 6:30am.

Julien Smith · CEO of Breather, Author

Not really. What you need is an eighty-twenty rule that’s going to give you the most efficiency, or in my case, calm. I’m really looking for a calm morning so I can be productive and get into the zone later on. For me, writing (which is introspective), meditation (which I find calming), and a very good cup of coffee are enough.

I don’t need to experiment any more—I’ve been doing that for years.

Des Traynor · Co-Founder of Intercom

Over the years it’s gotten earlier and earlier. In my mid-twenties it was rare to see me up before 10:00am, but these days I don’t sleep past 8:00.

Mitch Joel · Founder of Six Pixels Group

It hasn’t changed much, though it is changing a lot in terms of my kids’ needs as they get older, go to school, get themselves ready, and generally have less dependence on an adult to help them in the morning.

Esmé Weijun Wang · Novelist

I’m currently adding a writing rite to kick off any writing that I do. My writing rite was created by my spiritual mentor, Briana Saussy, as a way of bringing strong intention and blessing into my work. It includes washing my hands and anointing them with salt and hand cream, as well as saying a special prayer that aligns with my breaths.

Ali Bonar · Co-Founder of Kween

It seems like everyone successful meditates in the morning, so I tried it. I ended up falling back asleep and being late to work.

I go through phases of intermittent fasting, but to be honest with you, I just love to eat. If I’m forced to be at work at the crack of dawn (9:30am) on a Monday, at least feed me, you know?!

Jacqueline Claudia · Founder, CEO of LoveTheWild

My four kids are getting older and more self sufficient, so my mornings have gotten way easier. I now have time to do stuff for me in the morning, like the morning workout I added two months ago. Before that, I would just lie in bed and waste time on social media.

Aubrey Marcus · CEO of Onnit

To be perfectly honest, my morning routine used to be all over the place. It wasn’t until I did all the research for my book that I was able to really understand the importance and science behind everything I was doing to make it stick. I’m thrilled with this morning routine, and don’t have anything much more to add.

Benjamin Hardy · Author, PhD candidate

We have been parents for the past three years. Being a parent changes your entire life focus. It brings more meaning to my work in two major ways. First, I want to provide well for my wife and kids. Second, my time not-working is more valuable than my time working. I need to be efficient in my work so that I can be there for my kids.

I didn’t start writing publicly until after I had kids. While my morning routine didn’t change, the drive behind it did. It became about developing the right mindset to write and create rather than just creating a generally positive mindset.

Derik Mills · Founder, CEO of YogaGlo

From 2005-2013 I lived on the water in Manhattan Beach, California. Surfing, swimming, and beach walks were then integral to my mornings. But yoga and meditation have always been a constant.

Eliza Blank · Founder, CEO of The Sill

Before starting The Sill I used to sleep much later. I started my career in the agency world here in NYC, and could sleep in pretty late. Most people got to the office around 10:00am. Now that I’m an entrepreneur, I’m working as soon as I wake up in the morning and pretty much until I go to bed at night. It’s demanding, but there’s nothing I would rather do.

Oh, and there’s the necessary accumulation of all my plant babies! When I first moved to New York I had such difficulty finding plants in the city. It’s truly what inspired me to start The Sill. Fast forward ten years and I have more than fifty plants. Taking care of them is one of the best parts of my day. It forces you to really stop and be present. You can’t water your plants and be on your phone at the same time. (And that’s a good thing!)

Joel Gascoigne · Co-Founder and CEO of Buffer

It’s always changing, and I believe that should be the case. Routines are powerful when they become rituals that no longer require conscious thought and willpower. Without iteration, however, they can become stale and can be hard to keep up.

Changes I’ve made in the last few years are exercising earlier in the day and making it a top daily priority. I’ve also recently started the habit of drinking a significant amount of water early in the morning—usually one liter by 10:30am.

Julie Zhuo · VP of Product Design, Facebook

Before I had kids my mornings weren’t quite as regimented. With children there are a lot more steps in the morning, which is why I had to go in and change my routine to make it a little more structured. Before kids you just have yourself to take care of, but with kids you’ve got to get them dressed and fed, and that takes time. So this entire routine started around the time we had our first kid.

Vanessa Van Edwards · Behavioral Investigator

It took me a few years as an entrepreneur to wean myself off checking email first thing. Three years ago I made the decision to start gardening and now I look forward to my tea every morning. I’m not experimenting with any additions or subtractions right now because my routine works!

Lily Percy · Executive Producer

What I’ve eaten and what exercise I’ve done has varied but they’ve always been a steady part of my routine. The five minutes of reading, meditation, and prayer is something that I’ve been trying in the past year.

Lior Arussy · CEO of Strativity

I’ve adapted to my cell phone being on vibrate all day long. I connect when I want to. Do I miss a few calls here and there? Yes. But by and large I keep my focus when I need it. I also refuse to sleep with the phone next to me. As for Facebook, not interested. My private life is mine to keep.

Brent Gleeson · Navy SEAL Veteran

As mentioned above, the morning portion of my daily routine has evolved with the businesses I’ve run, my marriage, and the growth of our family. Fitness now resides in the midday portion of my routine.

The main transformation of my morning routine has been largely dictated by how often I travel. Being adaptable while not sacrificing the important pieces is key.

Christy Wright · Founder of Business Boutique

I want to add quiet time in the morning but haven’t done so yet. The reality is that I don’t get much sleep with a one-year-old and a three-year-old, so I usually prioritize sleeping a little longer. But I do think as they get older and life gets easier I will add some quiet time in.

Grant Faulkner · Executive Director of NaNoWriMo

The routine hasn’t changed too much. I’d like to add some yoga stretches because I hate how my body has stiffened into the shape of a man sitting in a chair writing. I’d also like to spend more time writing in my journal. My brain and my journal used to enjoy a tight and sumptuous relationship, but I’m afraid that I write in it less and less as I get older, and the writing is less raw and open. I don’t know why that is, but I don’t think it’s a good thing.

Bob Guest · Entrepreneur, Bike Rider

I’ve always been a person who relies on a specific morning routine. I believe I’m operating at my best in the mornings, so I like to take advantage of that time before I head into the workday.

These bike-or-Bear routines have stuck for a little over seven years now. Looking back, I’d say they developed naturally out of the need to find something to replace the previous morning ritual of writing notes to my kids before school, which I had done for fourteen years. In 2009, my youngest, Theo, graduated and went off to college, and I was left to find another way to make a mark on my mornings.

The note writing spanned two different homes, each of which required a slightly different ritual, but every morning during the school year from when my daughter Joanna was in the second grade and my son Theo was in preschool, I would sit down and write/illustrate a note to my kids to take with them into the day.

I’d wake up every morning at 5:00am, go to the bathroom, take a shower, and get dressed. This was all pre-iPhone, so I couldn’t check the weather at the time the notes started, but our dog was named Sunny (also a Sheltie), and I’d take him for a walk around the neighborhood to start the morning and get my thoughts moving (Bear has it a little better than Sunny did). When I got home from the walk, I’d make a pot of coffee (there wasn’t Nespresso at the time) and then light a candle at the dining room table; get out my box of markers, a pen, and a pad of paper; and sit down to write. I didn’t always write to one kid before the other—it always varied. Depending on what thought was at the front of my mind, what we had talked about the day/night before, or some situation going on in our family or in the world—that’s usually what dictated which note came first and its content. I’d sit and write and draw and write and draw again. Two notes. By the time the notes were done, the kids would be stirring and getting ready to come down for breakfast. Usually I was on time and the notes were ready and waiting on the counter for them. Some mornings I was a little behind, and I can remember folding up the notes as the kids came bounding down the stairs.

I had never really thought about how ritualized my morning routine was or is until this past year, when my daughter moved back home with us to begin working on a project called Folded Wisdom, which chronicles the notes I wrote. It’s been moving to watch her work, and the whole thing has illustrated for me just how much I value my mornings. Whether I’m sitting and writing or biking and walking, I’m able to think my best, express my best, and be my best in the morning.

Kara Goldin · Founder of Hint Inc

My routine has been pretty consistent for a while now. I’ve found something that really works for me, so aside from minor adjustments to accommodate my schedule or travel plans, I’m happy with my current routine as is.

Kevin Warren · Chief Commercial Officer, Xerox

I’m very consistent with the routine, but I have increased my emphasis on meditation over the last two years as a result of taking a class. That effort has helped to improve my concentration and focus.

David Gallo · Media, Set, and Production Designer

Two of the biggest changes in my life happened in the last few years. One was becoming the production designer for Sesame Street, which means that when we’re shooting I have the closest thing I’ve ever had to a real job. I actually have to show up to from time to time.

The other big change was having kids, which means two little people are counting on me a lot earlier in the day than anyone ever has before.

Jing Wei · Illustrator

Prior to going all freelance, I was going into an office two days a week. Most of those days started off with meetings, so I was more efficient in the mornings to make sure I was alert and on time. Now I’m facing a common challenge with freelancers, which is creating my own schedule. It can be difficult to set a hard start- and end-time for oneself when there are no expectations. I’m currently trying to figure out what works best for me and to differentiate between healthy and indulgent.

There are a million things I’d like to add to my mornings, like going to the gym or making really elaborate smoothies, but I also have to be realistic about what makes me feel comfortable. I find that I’m the most productive when I’ve started my day with a clear and relaxed mind. If anything, I’m more inclined to work on improving bad habits, like spending too much time with my phone an inch away from my face.

Leigh Martinuzzi · Blogger, Podcaster

It has changed because I am all for trying new things. Some things have stuck and some have vanished. The critical three for me are exercise, meditation, and creative expression. I feel less accomplished at the end of the day when I miss any one of those. On top of that, I journal. Sometimes it’s a separate practice on its own, and sometimes it forms part of my creative expression and blogging for The Hidden Why.

One change I’ve made is altering the amount of time dedicated to each part of my routine. For example, I’ve tried adjusting the time I wake up. Six months into 2016, I experimented with waking up at 4:30am and exercising (yoga and walking or jogging) for an hour. This practice was good, but it impacted the amount of sleep I got and, therefore, my productivity.

I try other things that come and go depending on the time of the year, my mood, and how my body feels. Cold showers used to be a big part of the routine until I moved to a colder climate and couldn’t or didn’t want to tolerate a one-minute cold blast in what was already a cold environment.

Lindsay Champion · YA Author

I feel way more centered and energized when I exercise in the morning, but in the winter I have to replace my 45-minute walk to and from work with, ugh, a 45-minute subway ride. I have a tough time carving out exercise as regularly when it’s cold outside, and I’m still fine-tuning to find a consistent place to include it.

L’Oreal Thompson Payton · Blogger, Freelance Writer

A few years ago, I made it a point to exercise in the morning, and it worked for a while, but I found that it often left me feeling rushed and flustered when getting ready for work.

Then I was working on my side-hustle as a blogger and freelance writer in the mornings, but ran into the same issue with being rushed and flustered. Plus, I’m not a big fan of checking email first thing in the morning.

Now I focus on self-care in the mornings with prayer, meditation and journaling. I’ve found this to be the routine that makes me happiest and calmest.

Joshua Spodek · Author, Adjunct Professor

Before the burpees I didn’t have a routine.

I started with ten burpees per day. I’ve added new elements to the routine as I’ve built my strength and discipline, having started with neither. I still think of myself as doing ten burpees, despite the routine growing so much since. At forty-six years old, I can sense that within a couple of decades I’ll have to start lowering the burpees and weights. So far so good, though.

Melanie Elturk · Founder of Haute Hijab

I’ve stuck with this routine on and off since high school (with a few gap years when I would wake up late and miss my morning prayer altogether).

Back then I would pray communally with my family and read the Quran with my dad. Now that I’m married I do this alone. I tend to experiment with exactly what I do after praying and reading, but I know that the more regimented I am about my morning routine the more effective and productive I am.

Hilary Matheson · Ultrarunner, Climber

Over the past two years the amount of traveling I’ve done has increased, so I’ve had to learn to manage that along the way. Because I’m often eating breakfast so much earlier on the road, it’s impacted my home routine. I often eat breakfast before 9:00am now, which never used to happen.

Jason Vo · Publisher

There was absolutely no routine prior to this. I was working a job that produced weekly schedules, so my days were improvised most of the time. I’d create my daily routine around those hours, and I found myself working on The Modern Block at the most inconvenient times of the day. It was mentally exhausting.

I’m happy with the routine I currently have in place, but I’m always open to experimentation and trying new things in the morning to ensure I get the most out of the day. A friend recently recommended trying out the “do not disturb” setting on my phone from 10:00pm to 10:00am, and I’m loving it. I keep mine on until noon.

Samir Becic · Fitness Expert

When I’m on vacation or a business trip, variations in my routine will occur depending on the circumstances. I’m otherwise content with my routine. Things in the future may require changes, and I will execute them when the time comes.

Christina Wayne · CEO of Assembly Entertainment

I returned to my chiropractor recently because my back wasn’t great. I probably overdid Barry’s Bootcamp this summer and used weights that were too heavy. I have this great chiropractor down the street from me, but he doesn’t take insurance and my insurance won’t reimburse me. I tried to go to a doctor in my network, but my back just wouldn’t get better. I’m now back at the really good chiropractor because it’s true that “you get what you pay for.”

Ritu Narayan · CEO of Zūm

Adding Zūm to our routine has really simplified things in our house. I don’t have to run around and figure out who is driving which kid where and when, which is the whole reason I started the company. I have the same challenges every working mom does, and mornings used to be especially hectic.

Josh Haynam · Co-Founder of Interact

It has fluctuated a lot. I was never a morning person until just over a year ago, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I’m experimenting with the routine. Right now, I wake up at 5:00am, which is as early as I’ve been able to go without feeling exhausted at the end of the day. But I’d like to push it to 4:00am in the future. I’d also like to experiment with different breakfast setups that involve more nutrition to see how that affects my cognition throughout the day.

Meredith Laurence · The Blue Jean Chef

I’ve tried doing some meditation in the morning, but Hazel is not a willing participant and tends to distract me beyond the point of no return. The early morning routine really belongs to the dogs.

Dr. Roshini Raj · Gastroenterologist, Internist

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Being a working mom has taught me to be extremely organized and to manage my time effectively, so you could say my morning routine is more efficient than it was when my children were still young and I was trying to figure out how to balance it all. I have learned the importance of asking for help and trusting in my team at work, and my husband.

Drew Logan · Fitness Expert, Trainer

My routine changes as my demands change. But for the most part, I like to stick to this program. I may sometimes have to skip the dog walk portion of the morning, instead going to the gym 90 minutes earlier, at 4:30am, if I have meetings that absolutely have to start at 8:00am or earlier.

Melanie Travis · CEO, Andie Swim

My routine has changed a lot over the years. Before I started Andie I was living in San Francisco but working for a company based in New York. I would get up really early to be on East Coast time, and I always worked from home in San Francisco.

I had a completely different schedule back then - I’d be up and running around by 6:00am, but I’d be pretty much done with everything by 4:00pm. That wasn’t so bad, actually. I played a lot of tennis in those days.

My routine also changes a lot with our dog. She had knee surgery a few months ago and couldn’t walk at all for several weeks. That made me sad, but it gave us more time to cuddle in the mornings. Even now she’s not fully recovered, so our walks are shorter than they once were. When her knee is totally recovered, our walks will go from about twenty to forty-five minutes, or longer.

Todd Davis · Executive Vice President, FranklinCovey

When I’m training to run a marathon (I’ve completed seventeen so far, but lest you think I’m bragging… I haven’t won any medals for my finish times… some people walk faster than I run), I set the alarm for an earlier time depending on the length of the training run that morning.

On mornings when I’m doing a long run and need to get up at, say, 4:30am, I absolutely need the alarm to wake me up!

Gail Saltz · Psychiatrist, Author

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.

Sean Conlon · Real Estate Entrepreneur

Over recent years I’ve incorporated yoga or a morning run or hike into my morning routine, and it has become an absolute must! Due to my busy schedule, integrating exercise into my routine is important so I can start off feeling great and ready to take on the day.

I practice CorePower Yoga. It’s a very physical and intense practice and a great way to strengthen my body and mind. I always feel more energized, focused, and alive after a class. There are locations all over the country, but if I’m traveling to a city where there isn’t one, I like to find a hot, vinyasa-style yoga class (not Bikram).

Matthew Weatherley-White · Managing Director, The CAPROCK Group

Aside from the addition of that block of white space, my morning routine has been bizarrely stable. Historically, I’ve always started with a cup of tea, but more recently I’ve incorporated coffee into my morning ritual. (I met this remarkable vet who owns his own coffee company, Café Mule, and I’ve been hooked ever since trying it.) But as I cannot countenance the sound of machines in the morning, I hand-grind my beans with the world’s most totally awesome burr grinder made by this badass old machinist in rural northern Idaho. Anyone who loves coffee should purchase the Lido II Grinder from Orphan Espresso Design Shop. It’s wickedly expensive, but it will bring a sense of joy to your morning that is entirely asymmetrical to the scale of the device.

Outside of my beverage and early-morning snack, I’ve experimented over the years with yoga, a brief attempt at developing a sitting meditation practice, regular exercise at a specific time, etc. But none of them have stuck. I think my mind - and my morning - just works best when turned reasonably quickly from the stillness of sleep to the velocity of what lies ahead in the day.

Rick Popowitz · Serial Health Entrepreneur

There has been little to no real change other than adding Morning Joe as background sound as I begin my work at home before going to the office. I find the always-changing panel quite humorous as they debate the latest silly or dangerous remarks of our totally unqualified president.

The other relatively recent change is the addition of the Echo Dot, which I got about ten months ago.

Celeste Headlee · Radio Host, Author

When, for whatever reason, I don’t get enough sleep the night before, I sleep in until 6:00am and delay the workout until the afternoon. Getting at least seven hours of sleep is more important to me than making sure I exercise at the same time every day.

Allison Grayce · Designer, Parent

I used to be less strict about how I used my time because I had so much of it. (Seriously, what did I do with all of it before kids?!) I’d let creativity or inspiration hit whenever it wanted, so working late in front of the computer was a normal occurrence.

Since starting a family and going full time on my own project, I don’t have the luxury of time or going into a quiet office. So, I’ve had to become laser-focused and find ways to be 500 percent productive in short intervals. I’m much more protective of my personal time with my family. It’s a whole new way of working.

Kristen Ulmer · Fear Specialist

Because I’m going through menopause, I rarely sleep 9-10 hours anymore, which kills me. I’m lucky if I get seven. For about six months now, I’ve been getting up at 6:00am or 7:00am instead, which leaves me grumpy. I need more sleep!

I’m experimenting with being creative first thing after I get up, while my brain is fresh, rather than checking email. I’m a fear specialist, and with fear being a huge subject and my approach being so different than anything else out there, I always wake up with some wild morning revelation about fear that’s dying to be sussed out. It dissolves quickly if I don’t start writing about it! But it’s a hard transition because I often have time-sensitive emails to respond to regarding my schedule for that day, and I don’t want to miss appointments.

Tami Halton Pardee · #1 Real Estate Broker in Los Angeles

I just started the dancing part about six months ago when I realized how much I love to dance but never get to do it. I used to only get to dance at weddings and I thought to myself, “No one is going to see me on the lifeguard stand at 5:30 in the morning, so why not?” It’s been kind of fun. If I get there a little later, around 6:00am, some surfers get to see me dance. I love my routine and don’t want to change it!

Jenny Blake · Author, Career/Business Strategist

I have steadily increased the amount of time for meditation over the years. It used to be 10 to 20 minutes a day (sometimes just five) until I realized that it was actually the most important thing I could do in a day, not something to be squeezed in.

Through meditation I am more grateful, calm, creative, and strategic. It dissolves problems much more quickly than churning through them all day with my mind. At the time of this writing, I am proud to say I’m on a 500-day streak!

Tiffany Cruikshank · Yoga, Meditation, and Wellness Expert

I’ve recently been experimenting with staying off email and the internet for the first part of my day to allow me to create and complete projects that don’t get done when I spend all my time on email and tedious tasks.

I’ve gotten really good at hiring great people and delegating tasks to them to allow me to continue to create excellent content for our community and stay healthy and inspired in the process.

Tammy Strobel · Writer, Photographer

I love getting up early in the morning because it’s peaceful and quiet. That wasn’t always true, though. As a teenager, I slept in late. However, when I started college, I began getting up early for work and to study. Rising early became a key part of my daily ritual.

After college, I continued getting up early. I didn’t have homework, but my work days were full and the mornings were the only time I could exercise. When we lived in Davis, California (2002-2008) I belonged to a swim team, and I attended the 6:00am practice. There is nothing like jumping into a heated outdoor pool to get your body moving.

Things changed when we moved to Sacramento, California. I didn’t have access to a pool, so I started running with my friend, Kai. We would meet at 5:30am two or three times a week and go for a run. With Kai’s encouragement, I completed a few half-marathons and even a full marathon! Sadly, I hurt my knee and had to find another activity to keep my body and mind happy; that’s when I discovered yoga and walking. I no longer practice yoga regularly. I still walk frequently, though.

My morning routine has changed over the years, and I’m sure it will continue to change in the future. For example, attending CrossFit classes is a big part of my morning routine. Here’s why:

In January 2016, it was hard for me to walk around the block because of back pain, and I was couch bound for a month. As a result, I reconsidered some of my habits. I found a great physical therapist in February 2016 and started swimming. In mid-September, I walked into CrossFit Northern Limits in Yreka, CA. When I began CrossFit, it was hard for me to do basic movements (like back-squatting with a 1lb PVC pipe)!

On July 8, 2017, I back-squatted 120lbs. Becoming strong didn’t happen overnight. It took over a year and a half of effort, moving my body every day, making diet changes, and asking for help. As I close out 2017 and move into 2018, I’m looking forward to becoming stronger and healthier.

Hitha Palepu · Writer, Entrepreneur

My son has been the biggest factor in my evolving morning routine! A year ago, we’d take a long walk every morning (which doubled as my exercise and quality time with him). I’m still trying to get in my exercise as early as possible, but it doesn’t always happen when I have deadlines or pressing work.

Jillian Michaels · Health, Wellness, Fitness Expert

Well, my routine is a bit obvious. Because I have kids and many creatures to care for, my routine is pretty set in stone. Obviously, they come first.

If I didn’t have kids, I am sure I would wake up, hit the snooze button, have a quick five-minute meditation, and then have coffee and catch up on the news for fifteen minutes. After that I would probably start answering my emails while having breakfast, and then I would shoot off to the gym. But that is pretty much a fantasy for at least another thirteen years.

Ravi Raman · Executive Career Coach

Waking up earlier is the major shift I’ve made. I’ve also recommitted to my habit of having a low-sugar, high-protein, plant-based smoothie in the mornings. I’ve gone on and off my smoothie habit over the years, but it makes a big difference in my daily energy when I have it consistently.

Another addition has been the free-form writing I do in the morning. Modeled after Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages exercise, I find that writing and brain-dumping my thoughts in the morning helps to jumpstart my creative juices. Sometimes, the sparks of insight I see while writing early in the morning result in great ideas for blog posts or business ideas.

Simon Enever · Co-Founder of Quip

Before starting quip, I was a late worker, not an early riser. I would get home from my design consultancy job at 8:00pm, eat, work until 1:00am or 2:00am, and then get up around 8:00am. I found that I was unproductive during the late-night hours, taking too long to do simple tasks (especially creative ones) due to tiredness.

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I decided to flip to being an early riser, and have never looked back. At 2:00am people are still up emailing and wanting to talk to you; at 5:00am they are not. That 5:00am to 9:00am period of quiet in the morning really is key to starting off the day productively before the in-office madness starts!

Wendy McKennon · Head of UX, Color

I avoid change when possible. I tried meditation last year but found that it made me anxious (certainly there is something to analyze there). I have built variance into my routine, though. At least once a week, I go for a run when I get to work. And on Fridays, I pick up donuts for the office!

Mick Batyske · DJ, Parent

I learned too late in life that I’m a morning person. I always felt that because I deejay, I must be a night person. I was so wrong. Over the past five years, I’ve really been able to home in on what makes me a productive person.

Matteo Franceschetti · Co-Founder, CEO of Eight

My routine has changed a lot over the past year. Four months ago I began focusing on creating a schedule to achieve consistency, with the primary goal of waking up refreshed and energized. So I began going to bed earlier (around 10:30pm every night) and waking up earlier (6:00-6:30am). I stick to a similar routine on the weekends as well.

Jamie Morea · Co-Founder of Hyperbiotics

Becoming a parent has forced me to embrace flexibility and make the best of whatever card is dealt to me on any given day. I used to always sleep 8-9 hours and start each day with yoga, meditation, and journaling. I’d clear my head and set my intentions, and I even had the audacity to be creative with my appearance. I would actually spend time fixing my hair and selecting my clothes. Ha!

I know all babies are different, but the one that we got is far from passive and easygoing. I’ve adapted just about every part of my life to support and foster his strong and fiery personality. I know the day will come when he needs me less, and I’ll be able to go back to my ideal, more-structured ways.

In the meantime, it’s a good thing beauty comes from within because these days, we play it by ear and turn a whole lot of lemons into delicious lemonade.

Jenna Tanenbaum · Founder, GreenBlender

I try to keep my morning routine as relaxed and minimalistic as possible. I find that when my routine gets too packed, I feel like I have to do every little step and stress out about accomplishing everything. This routine helps me maintain a low level of stress heading into my day.

Mike Vardy · Founder of Productivityist

I’ve added things like “Take Vitamin D pill” during the grey months here in Victoria (which isn’t unlike Seattle when it comes to grey skies from November until April or May).

When we bought the NutriBullet that became a more integral part of it as well. But it’s remained fairly simple and easily adjustable when new elements in our home or environment arrive on the scene. The key for me is to avoid complicating the routines I’ve put in place so I can stick to them.

Nikki Pechet · VP of Marketing, Thumbtack

Before having kids, my routine was completely different. With kids, planning ahead and sticking to a routine is critical. It’s also much harder for me to get into the office early these days, so I tend to get my best work done late at night.

Fitting in workouts has been a big challenge lately, so I’m experimenting with a personal trainer who comes to my house one day a week. He is happy to have my little guys around, so they play near us and sometimes join in the exercises. So far, so good!

May Boeve · Executive Director of

When I travel, which is about one week each month on average, some of this goes out the window (except the coffee part, which invariably amps up!).

I’d like to add morning exercise, and I’d like to wake up earlier in order to fit that in. I’m trying to be better about eating breakfast.

Stephanie Lee · Writer for Lifehacker, Men’s Health

I’ve cut out more things than I’ve added. I used to work out first thing in the morning to “get it out of the way,” but my weightlifting routine usually sent my energy crashing within a couple of hours. Now, I don’t work out so early in the morning unless I absolutely have to. I also used to check social media pretty much as soon as I woke up, which took too much mental energy out of me so early in the day, so now I keep my phone out of the bedroom.

A recent and awesome addition to my routine is writing in the Five Minute Journal, mentioned above. I have been loving it - not necessarily the journal itself, but the practice of thinking about the day positively.

Zane Bevan · Creative Director at Robinhood

Small incremental changes happen over time, but the overall structure of my morning hasn’t changed much in years. The smart lights and soothing alarm are new additions after I received some feedback from my fiancée that she was tired of hearing me hit snooze on my defcon level alarm.

Bedros Keuilian · Founder, CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp

I went from waking up at 7:00am to 6:30am, then 6:00am, then 5:30am, and I finally settled at 5:00am. I used to try to meditate, but I realized I just don’t like it, so I don’t force it. Instead, I spend five minutes going through my gratitude exercise each morning, and that sets the pace for the rest of the day.

Todd Henry · Bestselling Author

I used to try to cram everything into my morning routine (exercise, meditation, journaling, etc.), but I found that I do much better when I simply have an hour or so of study and thought first thing. It gets my brain moving, and it helps me get perspective on my day.

Now, I have a list of “dailies” that I accomplish each day, but some of them I complete later in the morning or over lunch so that my morning doesn’t feel so rushed.

Merrill Stubbs · Co-Founder and President of Food52

I used to be more ad hoc, letting my morning work schedule determine which days I took Clara to school each week. A few months ago I decided to try a different approach. Now I take Clara to school on the same days each week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), and I don’t schedule any meetings until 10:30 or 11:00am on Mondays and Wednesdays (and Fridays, when possible); on those days, I try hard to be out the door before 8:00am so I can get to the office by 8:30 or 8:45am and have a solid two hours of focused work time.

Mornings tend to be quieter in the office. Because we have an open layout, anyone can come tap me on the shoulder at any moment, so I find that this is my best shot at a chunk of uninterrupted time.

Shawna Kaminski · Fitness Coach

I’ve always been a morning person. It started when I was about eight years old. I was a serious competitive swimmer and swam both early morning and night.

I like my routine currently, but I think I need to add more professional “big thinking” to my journaling routine - currently, it’s more of a personal nature.

Sahara Rose · Holistic and Ayurvedic Nutritionist

I used to be a raw vegan, so back then I would wake up and have a big green smoothie. Huge digestive no-no! Having a cold smoothie in the morning is like putting ice-water on an already weak fire. When we don’t eat overnight, our digestive fire becomes weak. We have to gently rekindle these flames with hot tea and movement to make it burn bright again.

I used to be bloated all the time and it made no sense because I was eating so “healthy.” As soon as I shifted to a more warming diet, my entire body and even personality changed.

Terri Schneider · Endurance Athlete, Author

My body needs a bit more “lube-time” as I get older, so I am working on incorporating more time moving around, practicing yoga, and stretching, as well as moving slower into my workout.

Guy Tal · Landscape and Nature Photographer

It has not. To the degree that you can call it a routine, it is not something I pursue consciously. My body wakes up early whether I want to or not, and tells me unambiguously when it desires nourishment (usually right when I wake up) and when my mind needs a little time meditate and contemplate (usually right after breakfast).

I need these things in a visceral way before I’m ready to take on whatever task is ahead (which may or may not be known in advance).

Nick Onken · Photographer, Podcast Host

I used to journal more than I do now. I found it hard to be consistent about my journaling, and it took a lot more time than I was hoping it would. Nevertheless, I feel like I should integrate it back in again.

Vanessa Garcia · Multidisciplinary Artist

I used to be a lot more hardline about my weekday routine. I think structure is important, but I also think that too much structure is dangerous. I’ve found that when you try to beat life into submission, it tends to fight back. Life’s pretty strong, so it always hurts.

These days, I allow for a little more openness. The reigns are not so tight. I absolutely finish the work I need done, but if I want to wake up at 8:00am instead of 6:00am a couple of mornings a week, I allow myself. I figure my body is asking for it, and I let it happen. I’m considering having children, and I tell myself that I had better get those extra two hours in while I can (wink).

Erin Motz · Co-Founder of Bad Yogi

When I quit working my “regular” full-time job to pursue Bad Yogi three years ago, I had virtually no routine and really struggled with that. I felt unproductive and aimless, and I never really stuck with the changes I made towards improving my situation.

That did not serve me well, and I continued to feel pretty disorganized until more recently. I had to really discipline myself to build a routine that would give me an anchor. It’s taken a long time for me to find my groove, but I feel like I finally have the perfect mix right now.

Steph Davis · Free Soloist, Wingsuit BASE Jumper

There are some years where running is a bigger priority and other years where yoga is a bigger priority. I used to dive into emails and office work as soon as I woke up, but I’ve learned that it’s better to exercise first and then come back to that.

Lisa Nicole Bell · Writer, Producer, Podcast Host

I’ve become more consistent with meditation. I find that the more I do it, the more beneficial it is for my mental and emotional well-being and my overall demeanor.

I’ve experimented a lot over the years. At one point I was walking super early in the morning. I enjoyed it, but I found that it wasn’t sustainable because my schedule varies wildly throughout the year. I still sometimes go for a walk after breakfast if I’m going to have an especially hectic day ahead.

I tried exercising in the morning and didn’t enjoy it, so I went back to doing it in the early/late afternoon, which I prefer.

Laura Roeder · Founder of Edgar

My pre-kid mornings seem so luxurious now! If I can actually get up and get myself totally ready before my son is up, I always feel better. But honestly, it’s hard to make myself miss out on those extra minutes in bed!

Maybe someday I will get ambitious enough to actually be out of bed at 7:00am every morning so I have some time before he gets up.

Sol Orwell · Co-Founder of

When it feels like something is dragging me down, I believe in just getting rid of it. My routine used to be a lot longer and even more reflective, but I found that it soaked up a ton of time. That’s why I try to keep it relatively short and not too routine. I travel a lot, so this lets me keep most/all of the elements when I’m on the go.

Sarah Doody · UX Designer, Product Strategist

I used to jump directly into work. The problem I found was as soon as people started getting emails from me or seeing tweets, they knew I was ’available’ and then I’d start getting distracted.

I’ve slowly tried to stay off the radar in the mornings (minus some pre-scheduled tweets). I honestly don’t check email for at least the first ninety minutes of the day. It feels so amazing not to get sucked into non-urgent things in the morning. And to my surprise, I’m not even tempted to check email. Once I got through the first two weeks of doing it, it just became a habit.

Gracy Obuchowicz · Yoga Teacher, Retreat Leader

For a while I was meditating for longer, but I recently added back in time to write my morning pages. I find my life thrives when I give myself the freedom of freewriting in the morning. Meditation is helpful, but having a smaller dose doesn’t seem to lessen its effects too much.

Shane Parrish · Founder of Farnam Street

I don’t check email first thing. This was a habit that I consciously had to break. If we got up in the morning and the first thing we did was check email, we’d be allowing others to dictate our priorities for the day. The important projects I want to focus on would get pushed back to later in the day, and I would be spending my most valuable mental energy time answering emails that could easily wait for a few hours.

I’ve also stopped reading the newspaper. Looking at the opportunity cost of my time, I began to realize I was getting more value from reading other sources of information.

Raffaella Caso · Founder of BabyGreen

My routine has changed many times in recent years due to the fact that my daughter is growing up; every year was different because of her changing needs. I tried to exercise in the morning, but I now prefer to walk one hour every morning (going to and coming from school).

Victoria Durnak · Artist, Sculptor

Before having the baby, I woke up naturally without an alarm between 8:00am and 9:00am, but I enjoyed the mornings where I got up earlier more. It was easier to get caught up in stuff at nighttime, and I rarely went to bed before midnight.

I have learnt that I function with little sleep. Even though it is rough to get out of bed, I enjoy the quietness and fresh air once I am on my feet. The silence in the morning holds lots of expectations and is more hopeful than the silence at night.

At some point I would like to include a short run in my morning routine. I miss running, but currently I walk most of the day and rest my feet whenever I can.

David Cancel · Entrepreneur, Investor

Each month or so I experiment with adding a change to my morning practice. This month, for example, it’s rowing—adding fifty meters every day. But the two constants have been yoga and reading.

Isabel De Los Rios · Certified Nutritionist

The only thing that has ever changed about my morning routine is whether or not I decide to exercise in the early morning or wait until later in the morning (10:00am). Right now, I use my precious morning time for writing and any other work-related tasks that need to be completed; but if I’m traveling or if it is a filming day, I fit my workout into the early morning hours.

David Kadavy · Author

I used to simply have the goal of working for ten minutes straight on a project first thing in the morning. Often, that would bleed into one or two hours.

Why has my time commitment increased, even though I still spend the first two hours working? Because I’m always shooting for a goal that feels ridiculously easy to me, as a “Motivational Judo” move that tricks me into working more. I’ve gotten better at focusing, so just one hour is a pretty easy goal for me.

Ann Friedman · Freelance Journalist

Putting my phone in airplane mode when I get into bed and then not checking email until I’m awake and at my desk is really good for me and something that I’ve only tried to start doing in the past few months. I’m not always successful (early-morning phone addiction is powerful!), but I’m trying.

Sonia Rao · Singer-Songwriter

I keep changing it, playing with different routines to see what feels best. Even though I’m self-employed and could technically set whatever hours I’d like, I’ve found that I’m most productive and happiest when I stick to the same schedule that most people around me are on.

It’s kind of a “feeling in the city” thing - I like to sleep when others are sleeping and have brunch on Sundays like everyone around me is doing. When I’m out in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, I start thinking, “Am I doing this life thing wrong? Why am I the only person here at Trader Joe’s right now?” and so on, and I start to question all my life choices. To avoid this crisis, I try to stick to a “normal” schedule for the most part. I used to work at a consulting firm, and when I first quit to work on music full time, I thought I would have a non-schedule schedule, writing only when I felt inspired and so on. But I like showing up to write or practice every day, whether or not I feel like it. I think that’s what keeps me moving forward, both in terms of productivity and creativity.

Productivity-wise, I am way too moody of a person to use the “work when I feel like it” method. I would never get anything accomplished. Creatively, I love sitting down at the piano each day and writing whether or not I feel like it. It’s the best therapy. Usually the first few songs I write after sitting down are terrible and I throw them out, but then that third song will be one that I keep. And it reminds me why the “butt in chair” method works, and the cycle continues.

Tiffany Pham · Founder, CEO of Mogul

I try to streamline my routine and processes to ensure I have as much clear headspace as possible for the day ahead. At the moment, I am trying to shift my exercise regimen, which I usually do at night, to the morning in order to inject even more energy into my day.

Jess Weiner · Social Entrepreneur

2016 has been a very busy year: We kicked it off with the relaunch of Barbie’s new body in January. Then we spent the last four months planning a summit on gender stereotypes with the White House, so there have been some sleepless nights and, as such, I have had to modify my routine a bit to increase my energy and to help restore balance.

I’d like to do yoga more regularly, and I’m working on finding more time to write in the morning. Journal writing has been a lifeline for me over the years - I’ve been writing in journals for two decades. Oh, the stories I could tell… :)

UJ Ramdas · Co-Founder, Intelligent Change

I’m experimenting with a bit more exercise in the morning these days for getting more consistent meditations. Sometimes, I’ll do some kettlebell swings or sun salutations.

I haven’t really gotten this down yet, so it’s a piece of my routine that’s in flux.

Brian Balfour · Founder, CEO of Reforge

It has changed a lot because I’m constantly experimenting. I’ve also had some big changes over the last few years, including starting new jobs, moving, and getting a puppy. For every big change, I typically need to restructure the routine.

I’ve gone through periods where I wake up much earlier (6:30am) by forcing myself awake with an alarm. The hardest thing I’ve found to work into my routine is the meditation. If I skip one thing, that tends to be the one.

I’m currently experimenting with an idea creation exercise. Right after meditating, during the period where I write down my most important tasks, I force myself to come up with five ideas around a particular topic/problem. I’m trying to build a routine of coming up with ideas more often, since I’ve fallen out of this habit as I’ve gotten older.

Arvell Craig · Coach, Strategist

I love running. And for maybe three years, running has been the primary activity of my morning with everything else working its way around it. Running helped me become the morning person I always wanted to be.

After falling in love (and then into addiction) with running, I hungered for it daily. I prepared my clothes every night and was up earlier and earlier so I could put in 6, or 12, or 14 miles before heading to work. However, after running five marathons and an ultra-marathon within three years, my body started to suffer.

About a year ago I stopped running and started doing yoga. Though I did keep the habit of waking up early, and that has helped me commit to my daily prayer time as well. Luckily, after six months off from serious running I’m finally feeling good to run daily and maybe start training again. However, the entire routine takes a minimum of three hours which is admittedly quite long.

There are a few things concerning my routine that I’m looking to change:

  1. I don’t get much sleep. Like my dream of being an earlier rise, I also covet being the kind of “entrepre-hustler” who doesn’t need much sleep. After over a decade of trying, I successfully developed this unhealthy habit and am able to function on 4-5 hours per night. But now I am questioning if it’s hindering my top mental performance, and even muscle recovery.
  2. I’m continually hearing about the value of drinking a cup of water first thing in the morning. I’ve tried it a few times, and though I’m not recognizing an immediate benefit, I’ll likely just do it more consistently anyway.
  3. I’m experimenting with adding 10-15 minutes of meditations to my routine. Sure I already do a lot, but I can honestly see a difference when I do.

Bulletproof Coffee engages my body, prayer and Bible study feeds my spirit, and ten minutes of the Calm app seems to help clear my mind.

Catherine Connors · Writer, Parent

Until the beginning of this year, I spent a number of years managing teams on opposite coasts and got accustomed to rising before 6:00am to be accessible to team members three hours ahead of me… and until 2015 I was headed to an office by 8:00am.

Now that I work (primarily) from home and have let go of most of my long-distance clients in order to launch my next project, I have more control over my morning schedule.

Sean Ogle · Entrepreneur, Writer

Recently I did a 31-day daily vlog experiment. So my creative time in the morning switched from writing to video editing. It was a good experiment, but I missed the consistent writing - I found it tougher to do later in the day.

I’ve also experimented with working out earlier (which I don’t like), and with meditation (which is great, but sporadic).

It really comes down to putting the important things ahead of the “urgent” things for me. If I can drink a few glasses of water, get an hour of writing done, and make breakfast all before 8:00am - then I know everything else will fall into place for the rest of the day.

Katelin Jabbari · Googler, Parent

Before my son was born, my routine included an hour on my laptop while walking at a treadmill desk (in my office) before heading to the gym. I stopped doing that when my son was born (since I don’t have a treadmill desk at home, though I’ve seriously thought about buying one), and never took it up again when I returned to work.

Rachel Binx · Data Visualizer, Artist

In all honesty, my morning routine is pretty recent. I left a job two months ago that had a fairly early start time (eek!) and I now work from home most days. This allows me to be more intentional about my morning routine, and to consider its effect on the rest of my day.

I’ve also been trying to expand on my physical activity. Traditionally, I’ve saved my workouts for the end of the workday and only gone when I felt like it, but I’m trying to incorporate more regular physical activity throughout my day. The stretches are a good start - I might even add some exercises in, but no promises. I’ve tried to integrate yoga videos and guided meditation recordings, but haven’t found anything that sticks yet.

Taylor Davidson · Entrepreneur, Photographer

I’ve always been a morning person, loving to wake up and get started before the rest of my life gets going. I used to get up before 5:00am to go to the gym, to write, to run, or to commute, in each case because I simply loved to get going before everyone else. But I’ve moved a lot over recent years - from Virginia to New Orleans to New York to Pittsburgh - and added a wife, a dog, and an infant son, and thus my days have changed drastically. My mornings aren’t purely mine anymore.

The first change came when we got our dog, and my early mornings shifted from getting out the door to go to the gym to getting out the door to walk my dog.

The second change came in moving from New York City to Pittsburgh, which removed a lot of the morning breakfast meetings and shifted my morning walks with my dog around the East Village, visiting our favorite dog-friendly coffee shops, to walks through the parks in our neighborhood, making the coffee at home.

The third change came with the birth of my son this past December. This change was the largest, but all of them have had an impact. The biggest difference is that they’ve limited the scope of things to experiment with because my morning time isn’t just my own. I’m working on getting up earlier, before everyone else, so that I can start focusing on what I want to do before the day starts. I start each work day by outlining my priorities using the 1-3-5 rule; the more I can focus on the 1-3 priorities before my family wakes up, the more I’m able to get done before responsibilities start filling up the day.

Manuel Lima · Designer, Author

It changed quite abruptly.

Before Chloe was born, I always tried to work out and eat healthily, but too often I would work until late, then press the snooze button several times in the morning, only to run to work without having a proper meal. Chloe made me go to bed earlier, and in the process, start enjoying the quietness of early mornings and the pleasure of an unhurried first meal. Now, I don’t think I could go back to my seemingly flexible but more unruly routine.

Ann Handley · Author, CCO of MarketingProfs

I’ve tried various things to make mornings more palatable to me: Getting up earlier. Getting up later. Prepping overnight oats to give me something to look forward to. Leaving my phone downstairs. Keeping my phone close. Gentle music in the morning. Indulging in a snooze alarm. Forbidding a snooze alarm. Sweet-talking myself into allowing the snooze alarm Just. This. Once.

Nothing thus far has made me love mornings.

Craig Ballantyne · Author, Fitness Expert

I struggled to make meditation a habit for years, but finally added it a couple of years ago. Another component that has evolved is my email habits. In 2007 email was the first thing I did in the morning. That was foolish and often sidetracked me from important matters.

I then resolved to open my inbox later and later each day, and built up the rituals and willpower to stay out of my inbox until I’ve been awake and working for several hours. I’ve also put in place systems that have resulted in far less email being sent and received (that’s one important tip to fight email addiction: the less you send, the less you receive!). Today I have my system dialed in to protect my magic time and make big progress on my priorities.

Chris Guillebeau · Author, Modern-Day Explorer

The morning routine hasn’t changed much. I’ve actually added more to an evening routine, which I realize is not the focus of this great interview series. At the end of the day I ask myself, “Did today matter?” and journal a few quick notes related to that question. I drink herbal tea and sometimes take melatonin to help with falling asleep.

Manoush Zomorodi · Host, Managing Editor of Note to Self

I was never an early riser before kids, and then when they were little I just tried to sleep whenever they slept. Why on earth would I set an alarm when I was so perpetually exhausted?!

Now that we are on more of a schedule, I’ve decided I like accomplishing something before having to deal with all the hectic details of getting out the door for school. Also, I’ve realized I love the empty streets of early morning and seeing the sun rise. It is a magical moment that you can get for free every single morning! It feels like a reset every time I experience it and righteous all day long.

David Moore · Designer

Over the years, I have begun to focus my mornings on preparing myself for the day’s demands and using the time I’m in transit to my advantage. Taking these moments to clear my head and get my mind ready for meetings or to stay abreast of the latest trends in design, tech, or science. I’ve also begun to eat breakfast to give my body what it needs to work efficiently.

For too long I worked without properly taking care of myself, and as I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent that I’m no longer a spring chicken. Eating right and taking the time to slow down and plan in the morning is crucial to a productive day. I’ve also set reminders to check my Google Drive and an app called Paper to go over all of the photos and sketches I designed the day before to keep those ideas fresh.

I’ve found that sometimes ideas that didn’t work the day before may magically work for something else another day, so it’s beneficial for me to review and stay familiar with them.

Jake Kahana · Artist, Creative Director

Over the years, I’ve tried mixing things up – a little more in the last six months or so.

I find that keeping such a deliberate and somewhat rigid routine in the morning keeps me feeling good and productive and warmed up for a good day of work. Without any of those elements I just feel a bit off.

A life coach recently called me out for being too responsible with my routine and challenged how I might feel if I were less so. So I’ve experimented with weeks of sleeping in, and changing weightlifting and cardio to meditation. I do think that when I feel uninspired in my writing, or see no progress at the gym, that taking a week or two off and allowing myself to miss it, to feel a bit more rested, helps a lot. I’ve also learned to take the weekends off. It’s hard to be that consistent on a Saturday and Sunday.

Now that I live with my fiancée, Lauren, who is more of a night person than me, I’ve learned that I need to get my gym things and food things ready the night before and do my writing in the other room. When you have someone else in bed it can be really tempting to just stay there, but I find other ways and other times to be with her: I need my routine to keep me on track.

Steve Kamb · Founder of Nerd Fitness

When I first started my website, I would get all of my writing and important work done between the hours of 10:00pm and 4:00am, before waking up at 10:00am and repeating the process.

I initially assumed that I was just a night owl and I could only work after others had gone to bed (and I couldn’t distract myself). However, since signing a book deal two years ago, I implemented environmental hacks (blocking websites, phone in DND mode, etc) to transition myself into a morning person. I simply had to built a system that allowed me to work distraction free.

Cara Stawicki · Rower

I used to wake-up around 5:30am for 6:00am practice. I’d climb out of bed and basically head straight to the boathouse to start my dynamics.

There were a few months when my practice time was changed to 7:30am. This is when I started experimenting with pre-workout fuel and settled into my current routine. When my practice time was changed back to 6:00am, I knew it would be worth it to wake up extra early to stick with what had been working.

Penelope Trunk · Author, Entrepreneur

I’ve had to really adjust my work-life in order to accommodate homeschooling.

Just a few years ago I was delivering dozens of speeches each year for $15,000 a pop. I traveled two weeks out of every month. For most of my career I was running a startup. I ran three. They were all absolutely exhausting and I love that this guy calls it entrepreneurshit. He’s right. Running a startup is so difficult that when I was reading his post about how difficult it is, I had to stop in the middle. I think I might have post-traumatic stress syndrome from being a startup founder.

The key for me was being able to dream up career ideas for myself that work well with homeschooling the kids. At first it was a disaster. My career tanked and I started losing my mind. But then I started rethinking career options.

For example, people have always asked me to coach them, and for years, I have said I don’t do that. But then I realized that coaching people via phone works really well for the lifestyle I have with the kids. So now I do tons of coaching and it’s worked well for me because it also allows me to talk with smart, interesting people all the time.

Jeff Morris Jr. · Director of CRM and Engagement, Tinder

I’d say the biggest change is that I now use my mornings for yoga and learning. I used to always say “I want to learn that,” or “I want to get in better shape,” and I’d try to do it after work. But that never happened.

Before focusing on design, I was focusing on learning how to code. I’d wake up at 6:30am for a two-hour pair programming session on Skype almost every day. Dave (my programming tutor) was based in Nashville, Tennessee, and this was the only time that worked for him. My brain didn’t function at that hour without exercise. It was rough and I’m glad I now exercise before learning.

If you want to get better at something, I recommend finding time in the morning to learn. It’s hard to wake up, but you’ll get used to it pretty fast and it’s worth it.

I also credit the fact that I have a girlfriend to improving my routine. When I was single a few years ago, I was going out more and staying up later.

I love spending time with Simone after work. We usually have a glass of wine and go to bed pretty early, which has been a huge change for me. I love that my schedule is more predictable now, and that I’m not tired when I go to work.

Cameron Russell · Model, Cultural Activist

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.

Morgan Jaldon · Marathon Runner

Oh man, before I discovered running I used to sleep in, wake up, and grab a McDonald’s breakfast just before they stopped serving it at 10:30am.

I guess now they do breakfast all day? But that’s besides the point! It took me a while to find the best way to start my day, so I used to not do a warm up stretch. Then I felt like I should do something consistently every morning to make me stronger so I added push-ups to my morning routine.

Maren Kate Donovan · Founder of Zirtual

It’s gotten more regimented. Adding the “make bed” part has really kicked it into high gear. I try to keep my routine simple and short, so it’s not overwhelming and I don’t fall prey to it becoming obsessive-compulsive.

Jessica Walsh · Designer, Art Director

I go straight for my computer to check my email and the news. I make myself black coffee, shower and get ready, go to a coffee shop and grab a latte, then start working.

Lisa Congdon · Fine Artist, Illustrator

Last April I moved to Portland, Oregon, and my wife left her job at that time to be self employed (she also works for my business part time). So now I have someone sitting with me to drink coffee and check email, where before she’d head off to her job. I love having another person to share my morning routine with; we have a lovely little breakfast nook in our new house which is the perfect spot to convene each morning for coffee and preparing for the day.

I really want to begin a journaling routine in the morning, and one of my major goals for 2016 is to do that each day, Monday through Friday. I work long days and am very focused on my clients and getting my work completed most days, so I think it would be good for me to have a chunk of time each morning where I had more personal time to get my feelings on paper and reflect on my life. I think the challenge will be breaking up the routine of the last eight years to fit that in.

Rand Fishkin · Founder of Moz

I’ve incorporated more exercise that helps my back get strong and stay healthy. Unfortunately, I’ve got degenerative disc disease, so my spine is not in good shape and will continue to get worse as I age. To compensate, I need to do a lot of back strengthening work.

Courtney Carver · Writer, Photographer

The biggest change is that my morning routine has expanded. In the beginning it was just fifteen minutes, and gradually, over a period of years and many changes, I carved out more and more time.

When I quit my job in 2011, I had more time. When we downsized to a small apartment, I found more time, and when my daughter started college, I had more time. It took many years, but now I have hours instead of minutes to devote to my practice.

Most of the elements stay the same, although I used to include more yoga. Now I attend yoga classes during the week, and don’t have a formal practice in the morning. I also do more reading now during my morning routine. I’d really like to develop the habit of writing one thank you card during each morning routine, so that could be the next thing I add.

Gregg Carey · Entrepreneur, Survivor Contestant

Adding piano was the biggest change. I’ve always loved music, but never played an instrument. I had assumed it would be my “one regret” that I’d take with me. Then, nearly two years ago, I began taking lessons from a jazz pianist.

The daily benefits piano provides me with are meditation: you cannot learn without being completely present, and skill development: every day I can say “I can do something that I couldn’t do yesterday.”

Danielle Buonaiuto · Soprano

​Currently my routine gets me up and out the door to an administrative job. This hasn’t always been the case: sometimes I’ve had the deep luxury of being home and working on my art (in those rare months when it’s how I make most of my living), or working on a job from home. Then, I can use my mornings more leisurely, to exercise, get centred, and ready to be creative.

At other times in my life, I’ve felt I squandered my mornings, and I’m working now on being mindful of when my most productive hours are and when I’m most creative.

Elizabeth Royal · Street Style, Fashion Photographer

The timing has changed, and I’ve added working out.

I was an elementary school teacher for a long time so my work day started at 7:00am. I’m not the sort of person who can rush out the door in five minutes flat so that meant my routine started much, much earlier, and I read for a half hour or so instead of a full hour.

Over the years as my life has changed my routine has become more leisurely. I take more time with each thing in the morning. I live in South Korea right now, which is decidedly not a morning country. Not a whole lot opens in my neighborhood until 10:00am, so I don’t feel so bad staying in my house in the morning for a while anyway. At some point life will change and I may not have this pleasure, so for now I take the opportunity for slowness in the morning.

Johnny FD · Entrepreneur, Frequent Traveler

The only thing that changes is sometimes I’ll catch myself slipping away from the ideal morning routine and I’ll start getting lazy and less productive until I bring myself back on track. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with my current routine and think it can work for me for the rest of my life.

Crystal Paine · Author, Speaker

My morning routine has changed over the years depending on the age of my children, the changing needs of my family, and the different stages my business has gone through. Now that my children have gotten older and my husband and I both work from home, we’ve gotten into a really good rhythm as a family.

I’m in a season where my morning routine has stayed the same for a good while - mostly because I don’t have little babies who are waking up in the night and I have a better business team in place, so it’s not as demanding or time-consuming as it once was!

Wesley Verhoeve · Photographer

I’m currently mostly trying to find consistency in a phase of my life where I travel a whole bunch for work.

When I’m in Brooklyn, I am pretty good at keeping it going, but it’s easy to let it falter when I travel, which is sometimes more than half of the month. I am starting to keep yoga mats in different cities, at friend’s houses, to give me a semblance of routine for the meditation and exercise part of the morning.

Mimi Ikonn · Co-Founder of Luxy Hair

My morning routine has changed quite a lot over recent years. Most of my work is related to the online world, so the first thing I would do upon waking up before is go on my phone.

I used to waste so much time in bed scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and email, feeling anxious about all I wanted to accomplish for the day. I feel amazing now that I keep my phone on airplane mode and don’t touch it until I’m finished with my morning routine.

Alex and I are doing our best to wake up earlier now and add gratefulness walks to our morning routine. It’s not always easy as we travel a lot and change time zones. It’s something we used to do in the past and believe to be a very powerful mind exercise. It’s something we learnt from Tony Robbins’ Get the Edge program, and we recommend it to all of our family and friends. It’s a game changer in making your dreams a reality.

Molli Sullivan · SoulCycle Instructor, Former Professional Dancer

It started with just working out in the morning, and I’ve added elements that really make me feel even more awesome (coffee with unsweetened milk, journalising, meditating, adding a healthy breakfast, etc).

In general, I believe everything is always in a state of progress and iteration — we refine as we learn more about ourselves and what makes us feel our best!

Yuko Shimizu · Japanese Illustrator, Educator

I used to read about fifty books a year when I was living in Japan. My school commute was an hour and a half each way. When I started working (I had a corporate office job for eleven years before I moved to New York to go to art school) my commute got shorter, but it was still over an hour. Sadly, smartphones have changed the commute train scenery in Japan now, but it used to be everyone quietly reading books. Japanese designs for paperbacks are quite remarkable. The size of each book may be half the size of an American paperback, but the paper is super thin and, conversely, super sturdy. Because of the Japanese writing system, they can still keep the font size pretty big. So, efficient.

Now, my time on the subway is only fifteen minutes, and because of smartphones and tablets, I have lost the habit of reading. In the last few years, maybe I read ten books a year at the most. But to have a creative output, in my case drawings and illustrations, I need creative input, inspirations, and influences. I need to experience things I don’t experience on my own. So, the new routine I started earlier this year is to, finally, get back into reading; reading really good books that fuel my creativity.

I now intentionally take the local train instead of switching to the express train as it gives me five extra minutes of reading time per commute (I also use the time I used to waste on my phone toward reading throughout the day, and especially at night). So far, so good. I am getting a lot of reading done.

Temitopé Owolabi · Photographer, Student

It honestly depends on what I have planned out for the day.

I am currently balancing between school and being a photographer and content creator. Let’s say I have a planned shoot scheduled for noon. I may sleep in, but I never sleep in past 9:00am because doing so is very unproductive for me. Between the hours of 10-11:00am I spend my time checking email, reading, working on a project, or editing photos.

Depending on what projects I’m working on, that is usually the only time my morning routine shifts or alternates.

Ash Huang · Writer, Designer, Illustrator

I used to have a similar routine, minus breakfast and mindfulness. With that routine I used to reach for my phone before anything else, including my glasses. I’d sit in bed scrolling for an hour with one eye closed because my vision is so poor. Unsurprisingly, I usually spent the day frustrated, cranky, and wondering why I wasn’t using that extra hour for sleep.

Now I’m trying to balance spending an hour collecting my thoughts and framing my day (morning pages) and quick lightning bolts of gratitude (Five Minute Journal). I’ve tried other breakfasts, but I like my green smoothie. It basically starts the day off with a salad, so I don’t feel as bad eating a little treat later. It also means I don’t turn into a sugar-monster by 3:00pm…

Andre D. Wagner · Photographer

My routine changes from time to time, but I always wake up early. The morning is by far my favorite time of day. As a street photographer, I’m always engaging with people, watching people, walking all day, and being fully stimulated all at the same time, day in and day out. Days become full and draining. It’s important that I get some quiet time to myself, it helps me stay balanced in such an emotional city.

When I’m working on photo projects I will adapt my routine to it. Two years ago when I was working in a photo studio I would leave my house at 7:00am because I wanted to photograph in the subways for an hour or two before I had to be at work. Now that it’s summertime and the light is so beautiful when the sun is rising I like to get out and take advantage of it.

Aiste Gazdar · Co-Founder, Director of Wild Food Cafe

I pretty much went from HAVING to get up early for school or work, to NOT HAVING to get up early when working for myself, to LOVING getting up early and doing what I love. It sums it up pretty well.

In terms of other rituals, I went from being less conscious about the mornings (starting the day by checking emails, getting stressed out, rushing, and not leaving any time for myself), to consciously allowing myself to prepare for the day, protecting myself from stress or unexpected calls or emails until I am fully able to handle them.

Giving myself time, care, and attention in the morning has been crucial to significantly reducing my stress levels and consistently increasing my capacity to perform, have clarity, and take action.

Jessica Dang · Minimalist, Self-Declared Vagabond

I’m always experimenting with my morning routine - I keep an eye out for things I can do faster, or better. In the future, I would like to go into the office less, or change jobs so that I have more flexible hours or I can work from home every couple of days.

I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not an early morning person - I’d much rather stay up late than get up early. It took a long time to admit it, but now I know that my body wakes up more naturally around 9 or 10:00am, and I can work late into the night without a problem. I usually get a second wind in the evening, but I have to make myself go to bed so that I can wake at 7:00am and match with office hours. It’s definitely not ideal.

Discovering things like this about yourself is important, and being able to experiment and change your routine can make a huge difference towards having a successful day.

Nathan Kontny · CEO of Highrise, Parent

It was radically different before my daughter was born. I used to work until 3:00am, and just slept in until my body felt like waking up. Depending on that, I’d see if I still had time to work out in the morning or fit it in later in the day.

As for experimentation, I know I said above; it’s important to not always be making lots of little decisions, but sometimes, the opposite is true. Sometimes, we should throw out our routines, and question all the little decisions we make.

Paul Graham wrote an insightful essay on generating business ideas. One of his key thoughts was to simply turn off your filters and notice the world more. We all filter most of the world out. We look at almost everything and take it for granted. We have to. As Paul writes:

“You couldn’t get from your bed to the front door if you stopped to question everything. But if you’re looking for startup ideas you can sacrifice some of the efficiency of taking the status quo for granted and start to question things.”

So, often, I’ll sacrifice the efficiency of my morning routine. I’ll skip eating. I’ll work out in the afternoon. I’ll take a cab to work instead of driving. I’ll walk a different way to daycare with my daughter. I do all this so I can see life just a little bit differently than the routine I was in before. I’ll usually just go back to the routine, but sometimes I’ll return with something different.

My addition of salad to my morning breakfast was just one of those experiments. But also it’s a great source of new appreciation for things I didn’t know were there before.

Jessica Zollman · Photographer, Former Community Evangelist

Before we both joined the freelance workforce my husband had a corporate career that came with a regimented morning routine. During that time we agreed on a “no phones in the bedroom” policy. No charging, no morning scrolling, and no late night screen glow in the same room where we slept. We even got an alarm clock! When waking up without our phones we’d start our days by greeting each other instead of connecting to the internet first thing. We also got out of bed and started our days far more quickly.

The phone habit came back into our routine last year for various reasons - the catalyst was our move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I’d definitely like to find a way to positively alter our morning phone routine again.

Adebe DeRango-Adem · Graduate Student, Freelance Journalist

I’ve been one to dislike routines for the most part, preferring the spontaneous, the unknown, and the mysterious to anything repetitive or mundane. Maybe it’s part of being a writer and student that positions me thus: the privilege of pursuing the “life of the mind” on my “own” time, and not the daily grind of a 9-5.

But over the last six months or so I’ve really come to find a morning routine helpful in establishing the very things that make me accountable to calling myself a student or writer in the first place. There’s something very fulfilling about not waking up at noon, or sleeping enough so that waking up early feels like a blessing. Contrary to what many might think, being a writer requires a whole lot of self-discipline and accountability at all hours of the day.

M.G. Siegler · General Partner at Google Ventures

Beyond the U.S./UK differences, I definitely wake up much earlier than I used to. When I was a tech reporter, I would typically work very late into the night, often going to bed around 3-4:00am. As such, I would sleep until 10 or 11:00am. Seven hours of sleep is my norm, but in those tech blogging days, I would often get six or sometimes just five hours a night. I sleep much better now :)

In those days, I would get up and immediately get on my computer to start covering whatever hot story was happening in tech on any given day. I would never eat breakfast, but I still drank that Frappuccino.

Wade Foster · Co-Founder, CEO of Zapier

Not too much. A lot of people have a pretty rigid routine where they block out time for certain tasks or do a pomodoro thing. I’ve tried a lot of those and none have worked. What works for me is getting a good night’s sleep and making sure to get those 2-3 things done each day.

Hua Wang · Entrepreneur, Aspiring Cook

I’m more aware of the importance of time management. I now ask mentors and role models about their routines as I aim to make the most of each day.

I’m convinced that, with time, trial, and error, I will find a morning routine that allow me to comfortably fulfill my roles and responsibilities while also enjoying myself in the process.

Olimpia Zagnoli · Italian Illustrator

It changes every day. Probably now that I’m 31 it got a little more serious, with more natural rhythms. I don’t fall asleep at 4:00am after a marathon of pop corn, a full television series, and makeup tutorials anymore, so my mornings are usually more healthy.

Melody Wilding · Licensed Therapist, Expert in Workplace Psychology

As a child, I was a night owl. I often stayed up well past midnight into the early morning hours. Though I began to wake up earlier throughout my college years, after grad school I found myself burned out and confronted with the need to change my habits. I was constantly tired and struggled to have enough energy to get through the day. I was burning the candle at both ends: working long days (including weekends), commuting 4-6 hours every day, and band-aiding my exhaustion with caffeine.

When I learned to value energy management over time management (a concept from Tony Schwartz’s book The Power of Full Engagement) is when things shifted for the better. Most of us realize we’re more productive at certain times of the day, but a key to benefitting from this information is being able to identify those times and adapt our schedule accordingly. Pay attention to the times when you’re at peak productivity and when you’re least motivated.

More importantly, if you demand a lot from yourself, you must build in periods of rest for recovery and rejuvenation – or you may face burn out. Most of us, even when we try to relax, still impulsively check email and social media, so we never fully disconnect and recharge the way we need to.

This compulsive behavior is the result of a four-part negative feedback loop associated with technology addiction that I break down in my new program, REWIRE, which is designed to help you take back control of your time, rewire your digital habits, and live a more balanced life in just thirty days. I struggled with being “always on” for years, and I saw many of my clients faced the same issue, so I put together this program to share how I was able to finally break the cycle and find ways to mentally recharge.

Creating an effective morning routine has been one of the most beneficial energy management strategies I’ve found. Mine is rooted in regulating decision fatigue which, in simple terms, means limiting making small decisions throughout the day to conserve willpower for important choices. We humans have a limited amount of brainpower for making smart choices, and that cognitive reserve is depleted throughout the day. It’s why successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit every day: why waste mental energy on picking out clothes when you could put that decision-making power towards changing the world?

That’s why my morning rituals are so important to me. They allow me to wake up, hit the ground running, and shift straight into executing efficiently and effectively. With mundane decisions on autopilot, I don’t have to worry about decision fatigue or getting mired in choices that drain me. Instead, I save my mental and physical energy for the good stuff: creating, connecting, problem solving, and more.

Darya Rose · Neuroscience Ph.D, Author of Foodist

The meditation has had a huge impact on my ability to concentrate and on my well-being in general. I feel less frazzled.

Mornings in particular are important, since they prime your brain for how it will function the rest of the day. Are you going to be distracted and bounce around from project to project? Or are you going to be focused and choose your activities consciously and with intention. I much prefer to be in the latter state. I get more work done and it turns out better. I’m less stressed and less reactive. So I do what I can to keep my mornings simple and uncluttered. I have coffee, eat breakfast, and meditate before doing anything else.

Mattan Griffel · CEO of One Month, Forbes’ 30 Under 30

I’ve tried a lot of different routines, but this is what’s worked best for me.

I started with writing every day. Then I added meditation. Then stretching. And finally the tea. I’m sure it’ll continue to change over time as I simplify.

Fanny Moizant · Co-Founder of Vestiaire Collective

It’s totally changed since launching my business. Back then I was taking care of my girls, so I was generally free of any work deadlines and stress. It was a big change at first; I think every working parent develops their own system.

Now I’ve managed to find a clear balance between both worlds – I work hard at being present and in the moment when I’m with my family or focused at work. It helps to check in before breakfast so I know what to expect from the day, then I go to have breakfast with my girls.

Belle Beth Cooper · Writer and Co-Founder of Exist

I moved house a few months ago, and this is the first time I’ve managed to stick with a routine that works. Before I moved I was living alone, and I used to get up at 6:00am, make coffee, write until 7:00am, shower, and go for a walk before starting work for the day.

Elle Luna · Artist, Designer, Writer

The biggest change in my morning routine has been that I no longer use an alarm clock to wake up. I found that if I go to bed at a reasonably early time, and if I know how much sleep I generally need, my body naturally wakes up around the same time in the morning.

Waking up without an alarm clock creates a much more peaceful morning, and I find that rather than hit snooze again and again, which is what I used to do, my body wakes up when it’s ready. There are the occasional mornings when an alarm clock is needed, and I use one on those days, but I have to say that I do notice a difference between the days with an alarm clock and the days without. The days without one unfolding much more organically.

Grace Bonney · Founder of Design*Sponge

My morning routine changed dramatically when I adopted our dog Hope.

I’d always wanted a dog (I’ve had a cat for eleven years) and I’m so grateful for the way her daily needs force me to get outside of my own head and actually leave the house to move, get fresh air, and meet other people who have nothing to do with blogs, which I love.

Amber Rae · Writer, Artist

It’s funny you ask that.

I recently came across a notebook of mine from about three years ago. At that point in my life I was working around the clock and dating a man where I didn’t feel completely safe in our relationship. In giant letters on many pages I wrote: OVERWHELMED. OFF-CENTER. NEED TO PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE. I could barely recognize myself in the journal entries.

For many years, my morning routine was a result of how other people expected me to show up. I was overwhelmed and off-center because I was ignoring the messages my body was sending me.

I thought that to thrive in the world of technology and entrepreneurship (the industries I was working in at the time), I must work around the clock, eat lunch at my desk, and wear my lack of sleep like a badge of honor. There seemed to be a high degree of human doing-ness, and I felt a complete void of human being-ness.

So I paused. I slowed down. I started asking myself what rituals and routines supported my creative flow. I got curious about the environments and interactions that led to my greatest work. What I discovered was a natural rhythm of productivity. Thriving was a matter of aligning with and trusting that flow.

For instance, on most days, I go to sleep by 2:00am and rise by 10:30am. I sleep about an hour more in the winter, and enjoy rising earlier in the spring. I have the most energy for project launches in September, mid-Jan/early-Feb, and May. I love to go off the grid in July, and slow down in December.

As a maker, I thrive with large spaces of creation each day, and tend to avoid meetings, phone calls, and technology for long stretches of time. I work best in sprints so I go all in for days or weeks at a time with pause and recovery in between. My best writing emerges around 11:00pm and ideas tend to flow so long as I’m challenging and inspiring myself.

Initially, stepping into this way of being brought about a sense of guilt. I wondered if I could really take this much ownership of my schedule and I worried what other people would think. What I eventually realized is that we each have a flow that works best for us. What works for me may not work for you. The important thing is to get curious around finding your own unique flow, and then creating the space for those around you to do the same.

Ben Brooks · Tech Writer, iOS Project Manager

A few years ago I was getting up at 5:30am and writing until I left for work. Then the kids were born and my mornings have been all over the place since then. I’ve gone from waking when they wake, to trying to get up before them. It’s been a hodgepodge, but the current morning routine seems to work really well.

Chris Baker · Golf Player, Podcast Host

I didn’t really have a morning routine after graduating college. I hit some pretty dark times; I like to call them the valley of shadows. There are glimpses of light, but not too much. I felt a little bit lost of what to do. I had lost all structure out of my day. There was no discipline.

I then looked back on my college days and being a college athlete. Your life has to be incredibly structured and organized. If you’re not organized you just won’t get through it. You simply quit. It’s a shame, but you see it a lot with college athletes. You are juggling an awful lot, from working out at 6:00am every morning to attending class, getting your assignments done on time, and putting the hours upon hours of practice in. Oh, and then on top of all that, you’re trying to find time for yourself and any other half which you may currently have. Your time keeping and management has to be exceptional.

Suddenly, after graduating, all of that was gone, and I didn’t implement any routines in what I did. I just woke up every morning and tried to take on the world with no real plan. Implementing routines put me back on track to a focused end in mind.

I am a huge believer in discovering what works best for you and then amplifying it. I am utterly useless between the hours of 1-4:00pm. I take this back, again, to college, as these were the times I used to practice or go outside. It would be the definition of insanity for me to work during those hours, so I don’t. I learned this the hard way, by trying to be productive in this period and discovering that my mind just didn’t operate. Now, I’ll either take a long walk or schedule a call/coffee with a friend or mentor during these hours.

Shannon Lohr · Founder of Factory45

Drastically! During my bartending days, I was the co-founder of a fashion startup. After working a 10-12 hour shift at the bar, I would wake up around 10:00am, pull my laptop into bed with me and start working with one eye open. It was often between noon and 1:00pm by the time I got myself out of bed to eat breakfast.

I cringe thinking back to those days but at the time, I didn’t understand self care and perceive productivity like I do now.

Veerle Pieters · Graphic, Web Designer

It has changed me in a very good way.

I like to keep a healthy routine, and frankly I think I need it. Years ago I didn’t stick to fixed hours with regards to when to go to bed and when to get up. I had the bad habit of working way too late because I was in direct contact with a few clients based in California (over iChat), which is a nine hour time difference with Belgium. When I worked late I usually got up late too.

Other times I got up very early, like 5:00am, to meet a deadline on a project. The past couple of years I’ve stuck to a regular bio rhythm, which is way better and healthier.

Nichole Powell · Photographer, Writer

I’ve gotten a lot better at defending my early hours as “my time”.

While I was at university, it was easy to protect my mornings and use them productively because no one else wanted to be awake that early! When I started working after school, I had a long (too long) commute — nearly two hours each way — and my mornings disappeared into a rush to get out the door on time to catch my shuttle. I got frustrated that I didn’t have time to get centered and accomplish things before the day got started, and disliked that a lot of my morning habits and writing activities were getting pushed to the late evening hours.

When I quit my Silicon Valley job to travel, I had no idea what would happen to my morning routine. What if I wasn’t even actually a morning person? Turns out that regardless of country or time zone, I still really love mornings. I never know quite how a day will unfold in a foreign country, so the time right after I wake up is sacred space for me to take care of anything that I might need or want to get done. After I take care of the things I “gotta do,” I’m free to say yes to whatever adventures might come my way.

I’m sure I’ll have to adjust my morning routine again when I’m done traveling sometime later this year, but it’s been really enjoyable to discover what “sticks” about my routine despite a total lack of consistent structure or context.

Oleksandr Kosovan · Founder, CEO of MacPaw

A couple of years ago I’d spend long hours working. It was a bad habit. I’d often go to bed way too late, sometimes past 3:00am, which shifted the whole day, making me tired, late for meetings, and generally non-productive.

I had to switch it up. Since then I’ve managed to switch to a stricter and more productive schedule, and I really enjoy it.

Courtney Boyd Myers · Founder,

The whole not checking Instagram, Messenger, or email first thing in the morning was the biggest change I made to my morning routine in the past year. All signs point to how unhealthy and unproductive this habit is; it’s just the worst to receive an irritating email while still lying in bed, and it’s even worse to try and respond! I almost always feel a pang of regret after hitting send.

Austin Kleon · New York Times Bestselling Author, Artist

The luxury of working from home and not having a job-job is that we’re able to wake up slow and take our time easing into the day. There’s no frantic rush to get in the car and get somewhere. And since we get up so early, I’m usually at my desk not that much later than when I worked at an agency.

Tessa Miller · Tech and Health Editor, The Daily Beast

I’ve been out of college for four years now. When I got my first “real” job (an internship and then full-time job at Wired magazine), my routine was the most consistent it had ever been; in bed every night by midnight, up at 8:00am on the dot, out the door at 9:00.

My next job (at Lifehacker) allowed me to work from home a lot, so my routine got thrown to the wind. I also went through a long bought of insomnia, so my sleep habits and morning routines were all over the place. I’m getting back into a more consistent routine now (thanks Fievel!).

Willem Vernooij · Writer, Student

I had a similar routine during the last school year, but I unintentionally abandoned it during the summer. Now school has started again I’m working on recreating a similar routine.

Ryan Holiday · Bestselling Author, Writer

The no email in the mornings rule is probably the newest change. It has also had the biggest impact. Why? Because it means you’re not starting the morning behind the ball. Instead, you start with wins.

Specifically with writing, it allows me to approach it fresh and clear headed. The last thing you want when you’re writing is the specter of 46 UNREAD EMAILS looming over you. That doesn’t lend itself to existing in the moment well.

Kyle Legg · Web and Graphic Print Designer

My morning routine has evolved over time with changing technologies; from real alarm clocks, to iPhone alarm clocks, to wearable alarm clocks. The most notable change in recent history being the addition of Hue and UP24 (and losing my dependency on screeching alarm clocks).

David William · Collects Stories, Projects, and Life Experiences

I tend to take life in chapters.

The previous chapter of my life was fun, exciting, and worry free, based on long travels around the world. The current chapter is set in Chicago, with a boring and less thrilling, simple lifestyle centered around domestic pursuits of work and grown up concerns like job satisfaction and purpose.

Fortunately I work from home so at least my commute is pleasant.

Jordan Bishop · Canadian Entrepreneur

I’ve always been an early riser - there’s never been a time in my life when I enjoyed sleeping in. I always wake up with a certain hunger and specific purpose for the day.

Paula Borowska · Author, Blogger, UX Designer

When I went to school and (afterwards) got myself a job in an office I’d wake up much earlier. When I had a commute I’d read saved articles in Pocket or an eBook of sorts. I never used to bother with email or social media until much later in the day.

When I used to work in an office, I’d have a rough routine where I’d get up, get dressed and leave the house all within fifteen minutes. I didn’t get up an hour earlier to sit with a cup of coffee and read a book and I didn’t stop by the same local bagel shop. I literally just went to work; no interruptions.

That’s kind of a morning without a routine. I did that for about a year.

Abby Stewart · Teacher, Writer, Fun-Raiser

I was not a morning person for a long time, and could sleep until noon if you’d let me. However, since I became a teacher, work starts fairly early most days (summer school starts later) which has required me to wake up earlier and earlier over the years. Depending on what job I’ve worked, I’ve gotten up anywhere from 5-6:30am.

Doug Belshaw · Parent, Non-Profit Web Literacy Lead

I didn’t really have a routine when I was on the Open Badges team at Mozilla. I was travelling almost every week, which has a knock-on effect upon getting into a routine.

Previous routines I’ve had were dictated by institutional hours (school/university) and commuting time. Not having to commute is amazing. It’s really good for my mental health to be able to choose which days to really crank and which days to take it easy. It’s even better deciding when to take PTO (Paid Time Off – or ‘holiday’ as we call it in the UK). When I was teaching I got more time off, but it wasn’t necessarily at times I needed it.

James Clear · Entrepreneur, Weightlifter, Writer

I’ve added the gratefulness habit in (I also say one thing I’m grateful for before I eat dinner each night) and I’ve added the reading piece.

I think a morning routine should be simple and repeatable (at some point, if you add too many pieces to the mix, you’re not really doing a morning routine anymore, but simply a daily routine).

Paul French · Writer, Wonder Junkie

I had an office job for four years, so there was a routine but it wasn’t my own. Once I kicked that, I took a year off travelling when there was no routine. This is a new part of my life.

Cat Noone · Web Designer, Entrepreneur

A ton, but I’m happy with this one.

I’m up early enough to just enjoy the morning when it’s quiet, right before the chaos of the work day starts. Years ago my morning started at 5:30am, then switched to 9:00am, and so on and so forth. I’ve always woken up fairly early, and don’t mind doing so, so long as food follows not long after — otherwise I’m a monster.

Anna Lysakowska · Long-Term Traveler, Blogger

It depends entirely on what I’m doing and where I am. I’ve had several different jobs, and studied and travelled a lot, so my routine hasn’t always been the same. I’m always adjusting to what I’m into at that current point of my life.

Clare Herbert · Irish Freelance Writer

My routine has been reasonably consistent in that I love to wake up early and start my day by writing. I moved to New York last year which really disrupted by whole life, but the simplicity of these rituals really helped to ground me amidst the chaos.

Betsy Ramser · Entrepreneur, Writer

Three years ago I was still in grad school; so my morning routine changed every semester, and last year I was living in a different country each month so I had to accommodate my schedule depending on where I was living.

Now I have a more set schedule.

Gabriel DiMartino · Recording Engineer, Classical Trumpet Teacher

I was raised to be an early-riser, though it never seemed to agree with me. I find I’m a lot more satisfied and intelligent when I get the proper amount of sleep, which for me is 7-9 hours.

In the past few years, I’ve worked hard to clear my mornings, though I generally still wake up with plenty morning left. It is a nice luxury to know that no matter what gig is keeping me out late, I’ll be able to get enough sleep each night.

Gray Miller · Grandparent, Writer, Speaker

It has slowly developed over the last few years as I tried out various different lifehacks and did research for my blog.

For example, it used to be sitting first thing in the morning, in the dark – but reading up on the body’s need for hydration and the effect of natural light on our neurochemistry added in those steps. The coffee/journaling is a simple exercise in classical conditioning: if I don’t get coffee unless I journal, I tend to journal more.

Marjolein Verbeek · Project Manager, Business IT and Management Student

Since creating this routine it has changed quite a bit.

Things have been added, deleted, updated, and moved around. I feel like it is a moving thing, just like my life. I try to add or change things every time I feel like I should adopt a certain habit, but the basic routine always stays the same.

Tomas Laurinavicius · Adventurous Designer, Entrepreneur

It has changed mainly with the time I get up, as I used to live in Denmark, another time zone, and just six months ago I moved my daily workout routine to the mornings instead of the evenings.

Another thing that’s changed is I’ve started drinking coffee. After moving to London in January 2013, I found myself sleepy quite often so I wanted to sharpen my focus throughout the day.

Patrick Ward · Designer, Storyteller

In June of 2013, I left my job at Parnassus Books and began a sabbatical to work on some personal projects and diversify my skill set. During my senior year of college I worked as a night auditor at a hotel while attending school full-time, and ever since then I’ve been going warp speed so it has been wonderful to catch up on sleep and relax a little.

Now that my sleep deficit is gone, I’ve been free to find my own personal rhythm. Nine hours is the perfect amount of sleep for me, so I’ll typically go to bed around midnight or 1:00am and wake up around 9 or 10:00am in the morning.

This has proven to be the biggest change in my routine and the one that has yielded the greatest results. Finding out what your body needs in terms of sleep can be difficult, especially when you’re young and people around you are running on three or four hours of sleep, but sleep is so crucial I can’t justify the trade off to myself anymore.

Justin Lisenby · Industrial Engineer, Yoga Enthusiast

Before taking my current job, I was a student and also the Editor-in-Chief for a technology blog, so my routine was quite a bit different then.

Each day was different with classes, homework, and blogging. Now that I’m on a set routine, I’m happier, healthier, and have more energy than ever before.

Sam O’Neill · Student, Part-Time Lifeguard

I had to get up slightly earlier when I went to school because it was a longer walk, and I used to spend much longer in the shower.

I went through a stage a few months back where I’d get up around 7:00, allowing myself to have a coffee and do a few more things around the house with my morning; but ultimately I wanted to refine my mornings so I exchanged these things for a later start.

Daria Pizzuto · Language Teacher, Translator, PhD Student

Over recent years I’ve gone from hating every minute of waking up early to absolutely loving it, and actually looking forward to it every evening.

Before I started my insanely early wake ups I was constantly rushed and always late. I also had a tendency to break things in the wee hours. I now feel more in control and enjoy my mornings tremendously.

James Wolfe · Insatiably Curious Individual

My morning routine has changed immensely in the past six years.

I used to watch the news in the morning as I was getting ready for the day, but it was too negative for me and I had to stop. Then, I watched sports talk shows, which were entertaining and fun but didn’t move me forward in any way.

I finally started listening to personal development podcasts every single morning about four years ago and added the meditation part about three years ago.

Candace Bryan · Editor,

I used to abide by the “work starts at 9:00am” mentality, so even if I woke up at 7:00, I’d just read a magazine, browse through Flipboard, or do some half-assed yoga until it was time.

I soon realized that was a huge waste of time, because my mind is most active in the morning, and I’m far more productive knowing I can call it quits early and have the afternoon to myself.

Ruchika · Lifestyle Coach, Yoga Teacher

Honestly, I have always been a morning person, fond of walking in wet grass and listening to birds chirping up in the trees, though of late I’ve added mindfulness with prayers and gratitude to my mornings, expanding my spiritual horizon.

Brian Barry and Noelle Kelly · Irish Couple, Traveling the World

Our morning routines have changed quite a lot over the last few months.

We were travelling non-stop around Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Sumatra for fourteen months, so we didn’t have a home to have a routine in. During this time we used to wake up and boil some water for tea/coffee first thing while chopping some fruit for breakfast, something we’ve kept up since settling down in Korea.

Carrie Ford Hilliker · Designer, Brand Strategist

A few years ago I didn’t have a routine at all which in retrospect made me feel pretty chaotic.

I work for myself and travel quite a bit, so no one day is ever the same. I’ve discovered that being relatively set in my ways with my morning helps to ground me for the rest of the day.

Richard Wotton · Newly Qualified Media Studies Teacher

I think the only things that changes, as I have moved from school to school, is getting yourself comfortable with that school’s routines.

In the last two years I would always get in for 8:00am. However, I am now in earlier because I want to be able claw time back at the end of my day, to be able to have a little more personal time in the evening… even have the luxury of having a social event mid-week.

Allan Wilson · Frequent Traveler, Obsessive Food Fiend

Before living in Bangkok I worked a 9 to 5 in the UK. Back then I would struggle to wake at 7.30am, and on days off I could sleep through to midday. Mornings are a lot easier when the weather and lifestyle are less miserable.

Hanny Kusumawati · Non-Profit Co-Founder

Earlier this year, I struck a deal with the company I work with to be able to work remotely. I travel a lot, so having the freedom to work from anywhere is so liberating!

When I’m in town, I come to the office only twice a week (half-day each in the afternoon), and when I’m traveling all communications can be made via email or Skype. Now I have more time to myself in the morning; something I am truly grateful for.

Sahil Parikh · Parent, Web Entrepreneur, Author

It changes every week!

On the nights that we have a social engagement or if I know I’ll be working late, I usually wake up an hour or so later. On the days that I have Krav Maga I am up much earlier.

Funnily, there have been times on a Sunday when I am up at 6:30am jotting down some notes on my latest blog post.

Jonny Blair · Frequent Traveler

If I settle in a particular place for a while, my routine changes as I will be working full time.

Most of the jobs I have done are shift work, so the routine changes completely. In some of my recent jobs, I’d finish work at 5:00am (in a bar for example) and be home for bed as the sun is coming up!

Caroline O’Shea · Flute Player, Vocalist in Traditional Irish Band

I’ve roughly followed this routine my whole life, with a few variations in timing depending on my work situation.

The biggest change has been my waking up earlier. In college, I just… didn’t do mornings. Once I graduated and got a 9-5 job, I forced my body into a feasible pattern to get me to work on time while looking semi-presentable.

I’m currently self-employed as a musician, and I definitely see the benefits of a structured morning routine.

Merja Willock · Artist, Wanderer

I used to think I had to be extremely efficient from the moment I get up, as that is the general norm. Now, because I’m naturally an evening person and usually get my best work done later during the day, I try to learn to honor that, and have given myself permission to dedicate my mornings to self-care and creative activities.

With that said, when I’m in the phase of having new exciting ideas, I tend to skip my usual creative routines and get to work as soon as I wake up.

Alicia Sully · Cinematographer, Documentary Photographer, Compact Editor

One thing that has changed in the past seven years is I now think it’s more important to eat something at breakfast time. It happened when I moved to Africa and my survival instincts took over!

That said, occasionally I realize if I eat breakfast, I won’t be hungry at lunch, so I don’t. I prefer to have one large meal a day.

Emmanuelle Lambert · Yoga Teacher, Mentor

I used to have a quick routine before going to work, but last year I quit my day job to become a full time yoga teacher and coach, meaning I gained control over my schedule and could extend it as much as I needed to.

Emma Milligen · Animator, Art Geek, Vegan

I’ve tried to incorporate things like meditating, juicing, yoga, workout DVDs and the like… but sometimes they didn’t seem to fit naturally. I’ve come to realize I need to let the process evolve, and not force anything too abruptly. Eventually I’d like to add different things, but for the time being I haven’t found a way to make them stick consistently.

Jared Taylor · Entrepreneur, Triathlete, Foodie

This routine started last year when I began training for my first triathlon. Because there are three sports involved, it’s important to utilize mornings and evenings for workouts. I was also learning how to swim, so at the time I’d spend up to four or five mornings a week at the pool.

I’ve made a conscious effort to use mornings to my advantage. I used to never consider making lunch in the morning. Sometimes I’ll even go grocery shopping. Going into work at 9:00am after accomplishing a few things feels amazing.

Matt Young · Podcaster, Marketer, Dog Walker

I used to get up much earlier, about 4:30am, as I started work at 6:00am. That routine was really good as it meant I had some quiet time first thing.

I have also recently gone through a relationship break-up. Looking at the positive side of that though, my routine is much quieter and easier without having to work around other people using the bathroom.

Mark Kennedy · Parent, Former Kinesiologist

Other than my wake-up time (kids have a way of changing this), my morning routine has largely been unchanged for eleven years.

My routine has changed very little throughout the years. I would love to be an early morning workout guy, but I’m just not. I get my best workouts done after I’ve been up for a bit and caffeine is running through my veins. I guess one welcomed change is that I rely on my alarm less and my son waking me up more.

Paul Farmiga · Marketer, CrossFit Enthusiast

Way back when I was funemployed, I would wake whenever and eat whatever, and rely on four cups of coffee to fuel my day ahead.

I no longer rely on caffeine. I no longer allow a consumer-minded, touchscreen-lit awareness to take root in the hours given to me each day. Before, I was often mentally engaged in email, but thankfully, I broke that routine and have refocused my attention to that surgical precision instead of the butter knife spread of awareness it would create for me unnecessarily.

Richard Boehmcke · Writer, Stage Director

I’ve had four different jobs in my twenties and worked in six different offices; so where I’ve been working has always altered what time I go to bed and wake up.

My early twenties were filled with a lot of YouTube and sitting around my apartment. As I’ve embraced writing in my late twenties, I have found myself carving out time for my personal projects which have grown to become more significant.

In this same time I’ve started eating healthier. I always love eating breakfast immediately after waking up, but when I worked for a company that supplied food, well, I decided to stop spending money on breakfast and would just eat at work.

There are so many factors of my morning routine that are constantly in flux; where I’m working, what kind of work I’m doing, whether or not I’m spending the night at my girlfriend’s apartment, all of which contribute to my day, therefore being too reliant or dependent on a consistent routine can be debilitating.

Tenikca Gainey · Vegetarian Naturalista, Writer

My morning routine has changed due to obligations (work, class, other commitments) and the fact that for a very long time, I despised waking up. Giving up sleeping in for Lent has made me much more productive throughout the day and I now look forward to taking on the day.

Sarah Kathleen Peck · Writer, Designer, Long-Distance Swimmer

I get to sleep more than I did in college! But I’m also pretty minimal in the morning.

I don’t do very much other than grab food, pack my bag, and put some comfortable clothes on. It’s probably the 20+ years of swimming, and having to change in and out of swimsuits and showers that made my routine as minimal as possible. I like to just get up and get going.

Dena Haden · Award-Winning Artist, Art Consultant

Honestly, it hasn’t changed much, the only difference is where I have been living. I’ve moved so many times in the past ten years; I have gone from waking up on the ocean, to the city, and now to farmland.

Robyn Devine · Founder of Nebraska Hats for Hope

I used to sleep until the last possible second, and my husband and I would carpool to work. I was a crabby mess until I’d had at least two Coke Zeros. Now I’m up earlier than ever, don’t drink soda any more and take the bus to work.

Oh, and wrangle a toddler!

Nicole Antoinette · Distance Runner, Vintage Dress Hoarder

Prior to the past year, I didn’t really have a routine. I’d wake up, check email in bed, and just start reacting to it. I felt a lot of pressure to be available to everyone all the time, which meant hours and hours of reactive work with very little time and energy spent on the things that matter most to me, since I was always too exhausted for them by the end of the day.

Sam Spurlin · Writer, Ph.D Student

Adding lifting in the morning is relatively new. At other times I’ve been a runner — although I always had trouble running in the morning.

When I was teaching a few years ago I would get up at 4-4:30am to prepare my lessons for the upcoming day. That was a crazy time — even for someone who loves the morning as much as me.

Colin Wright · Author, Entrepreneur, Full-Time Traveler

I add things, I remove things. What stays pretty standard is that I do a little exercise every day at home, and then, if I have a gym nearby, I try and do that, as well (though later).

I tend to eat breakfast and check my email and social media accounts to see if there’s anything I need to handle right away. Otherwise, I’ll slowly edge my way into ‘work,’ which means answering emails, writing, and working my way through any to-do items I might have in my inbox.

Kit Johnson · Writer, Photographer, Reiki Enthusiast

The only thing to change for as long as I can remember has been shifting the schedule from an 8:00am start to a 7:30am start. I did this because I wanted to slow things down, have more time, and especially to be able to get some yoga in sometimes before I start the day.

Monica McCarthy · Actress, Producer, Frequent Traveler

I used to try and work out (usually running) first thing, but I’ve discovered that my brain and overall creative functions work a thousand percent better in the morning, and I have a relatively short window of time in which to remain extremely focused.

In the afternoon my brain completely shuts down, so that’s a better time for me to get some exercise and get the oxygen flowing… of course that means it’s much easier to find excuses not to exercise as the day progresses; I’m still trying to find a solution to that problem!

Theodora Sutcliffe · Parent, Nomad, Freelance Writer

Well, when my son was in school and we lived in London, we would get up at about 8:00am, get dressed and have breakfast — cornflakes and juice for him and coffee and cigarettes for me, then leave to walk round the corner at about 8:45am. Now we really don’t have one. Pretty much the only thing we always do — and Zac does without any prompting — is brush our teeth.

Amit Sonawane · Reader, Writer, Devout Tea Drinker

It changes all the time.

I really enjoy waking up early but I let my body decide when it’s time to wake and once I am up, I get going instantly. Snoozing or being lazy in bed is the girlfriend’s job, not mine, haha. I am the one who wakes early, reads, writes, and makes tea/coffee for both of us. I enjoy it. So, as long as there is some contemplative thinking, reading, and making of a hot beverage involved, I don’t stress out too much over when and how I do it.

Will Peach · Writer, Frequent Traveler

A few years ago I was trapped in 9-5 hell so my morning routines were fairly regimented involving the usual shower breakfast coffee combo.

The one highlight that I sincerely miss from those days was my cycle ride across London to my former offices in Covent Garden. That’s a luxury you just can’t indulge in the hot chaotic mess of Southeast Asian traffic. Not that I actually have an office to commute to any more; it’s more a shuffle from the bedroom to somewhere with quick access to WiFi. Then it’s a quick scan of the email followed by the onslaught of other unhealthy habits.

Paul Schiernecker · Writer, Musician, Freelance Journalist

When I was a student I really wasn’t a morning person. At the time I put it down to my anaemia but I don’t think the nights of drink and drugs helped. I reached a point where the whole thing completely lost its appeal and now I’m annoyingly perky.

Kashyapi · Meditation and Zen Teacher

This year, I trained formally as a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, I took Jukai (Precepts) as a lay ordained Rinzai Zen Buddhist, and I became a trainee Zen teacher.

This upped my game significantly, strengthening my daily practice in so many ways. I have sat one day

Zazenkai (Zen meditation retreat) and one week Sesshin (Zen meditation retreat). Each time I sit, those experiences are with me. Everywhere I go, those experiences are with me.

Andrew · Early Riser, Australian Francophile

My current routine started when I started working for myself and had the flexibility of my own time, but to be honest I’m up, exercised, fed and watered by 7:00am so it’s something I could have been doing while working in an office.

Over the years my morning routine has gone from high school student (wake up as late as possible, arrive ten minutes late everyday, saving approx. two weeks of school time over the year), to college & university (waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus thirty odd kilometres for an 8:00am start), to work (early starts).

Over the years there’s been a bit of early morning wake-ups, running and gym, depending on how tight the pants have felt or if summer is imminent and you don’t want to look like a pork chop at the beach.