“I’ve always been curious about learning more about myself and the world around me, and meditation keeps me connected to that.” – Ritu Narayan Share this quote on Twitter

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Ritu Narayan

What is your morning routine?

On weekdays, I get up between 5:30am and 6:00am, whenever my body wakes me up. I have a big window that I walk to every morning to look out at the view of the hills and the [San Francisco] bay. That is my start every day. It centers me and connects me with nature. No matter what, that is always there in the quietness and freshness of the morning.

After that, I make a cup of tea, have some quiet time alone, practice meditation, think about the day, reply to some crucial emails, and check my Zūm app to see the drivers for my kids for that day.

I get my kids up one at a time. My daughter is first, and I always greet her with a cup of chocolate milk when she wakes up. I get her going for the day (clothes, bath, etc.) and then fix what she wants for breakfast (I let my kids choose their meals every day). I then wake my son and get his breakfast order started. Then they’re off, my daughter with her driver after eating breakfast, and my son with his breakfast on his ride to school.

Once both my kids are out the door, I get myself ready and take calls, or head out to the office for meetings.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Ever since the kids started going to school, so about ten years, give or take.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

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.

What time do you go to sleep?

Usually by 11:00-11:30pm.

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

When the kids go to bed (they have to be in bed around the same time every night), I usually work for a couple of hours or read nonfiction - it’s how I clear my brain. I love learning about new things in business and technology. I have some good books and a good articles feed, so I always have plenty to read. I also use this quiet time to work on product and company plans, taking time to connect the dots for the business by being reflective and contemplative.

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

I don’t usually use an alarm, I just know by the light that it’s time to get up. If I used an alarm and set it for an insane time, I would absolutely use the snooze button.

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

I eat my own breakfast between the kids’ breakfasts. I have 15-20 minutes to sit down and eat, which is always nice. Oatmeal with raisins and almonds is my favorite. I also like a bagel with cream cheese and sometimes eggs, but not often. Overall, I keep breakfast pretty simple.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

No. I work out on and off, depending on the cycle of work. When I’m in an exercise phase, that’s the first thing I do. I love to do group exercises at the gym - bodypump, yoga, Pilates. Recently, a personal trainer has been coming once a week on the weekends. Group classes keep me motivated. I don’t like doing much on my own.

How about morning meditation?

Absolutely, it’s part of my daily life. I practice Vipassanā meditation. “Vipassanā” means to see things as they really are. It’s a Buddhist style of meditation and is said to be the style Buddha used to achieve enlightenment. The practice is to pay attention to your breath and the physical sensations in your body, which brings you to the present moment. I started practicing about fifteen years ago.

Growing up, we had yoga in school. Our home was very spiritual with morning prayer and meditation. It was a habit instilled in me when I was very young. I’ve always been curious about learning more about myself and the world around me, and meditation keeps me connected to that.

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

Not first thing, but I do check my email within the first thirty minutes of waking up. It’s part of me and what I do. I like to see the messages customers are sending.

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

Not really, but I do have Alexa. Alexa puts music on for me every morning for whatever mood I’m in. I love it!

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

First thing I check is the time on my phone, so pretty much immediately.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Setting myself and my kids up for success for the day. I know that having a calm morning will make everything good until I’m back home from the office. That gives me the comfort that allows me to work for many hours without worrying about them.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Indian ginger tea with milk, within thirty minutes of waking up. It says “good morning” to me.

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

My husband usually gets up before me or around the same time, also on his own with no alarm. When he gets up, he takes quiet time for himself - catching up on news around the world, reading, etc. Usually, the first time we chat with each other is around the time our daughter wakes up.

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

I don’t sleep in much because my daughter wakes up at the same time, whether it’s a weekday or weekend, and she always wakes me. There’s no meditation or reading on the weekends in the morning, but there may be some exercise.

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

When the morning gets thrown off or when I get up late, I try to maintain one hour of time spent with my children and stick to the routine as much as possible. I may take fifteen minutes to come back to myself before getting on with the day after the kids head out.

I try to plan so that I don’t have meetings that conflict with my family routine. It’s very hard on my family when our routine is thrown off, and it requires me to ask a lot of everyone else.


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