“For me, meditation is the silence, smells, and sounds of making tea, and the peaceful waiting while it steeps. This is when I clear my mind and get ready for the day.” – Vanessa Van Edwards Share this quote on Twitter

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Vanessa Van Edwards

What is your morning routine?

I wake up around 7:00am and try not to use an alarm. I instead try to wake up naturally at the same time every morning.

I usually cuddle with my husband and ask him about his agenda for the day. Then I start my day by picking fresh tea leaves in my garden. This time of morning it is beautiful outside, and I love getting the fresh leaves (usually mint—I have six different kinds of mint plants!). Then I hand grind the tea leaves and wait while they steep. This is the closest thing to meditation that I do. The manual process of clipping, crushing, and steeping the leaves wakes up all of my senses. Then, at 7:45am, I take my tea and read a non-fiction book to warm up my brain for the day. I try to read books that could inspire my work: behavioral books, self-help, and research non-fiction. It helps get me in the right mindset. After about 30-45 minutes of reading I get to my desk.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Three years.

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How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

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!

What time do you go to sleep?

Around 10:30pm.

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

I have to have a book ready! When I don’t have a good book ready to read it’s hard to resist checking my email.

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 use an alarm if I can help it. I never hit the snooze button if I do.

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

I eat breakfast between half an hour and two hours after waking up. I always have a big bowl of fresh-cut fruit and nuts. Sometimes I add oatmeal when I am extra hungry. On sunny days my husband and I often sit on our deck to eat breakfast. On rainy days we often sit in bed to eat breakfast while reading or chatting.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

I wish I did, but I am an afternoon exerciser! At 5:00pm I go on a long hike with a friend, lift weights with a trainer, or attend a dance class. I have a rotation. My 5:00pm hike is sometimes my second hike of the day—I live on an urban forest in Portland, so I frequently take hikes when I cannot work out a creative or strategic problem.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

I cannot meditate. I have tried! For me, meditation is the silence, smells, and sounds of making tea, and the peaceful waiting while it steeps. This is when I clear my mind and get ready for the day.

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

It is the first work thing I do, but not the very first thing I do. I usually wait until after my tea and reading.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

I usually turn it on to make sure I have no urgent texts right before I read. But I don’t spend a lot of time on it.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

I try not to have any important tasks in the morning. Maybe going pee?

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Mint tea. It is ready just twenty minutes after I wake up!

Vanessa Van Edwards preparing her fresh mint tea

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

I like greeting him first thing in the morning. Sometimes I ask him to help me wake up and he talks to me. I often make him mint tea as well, and then we read together.

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

I have a totally different routine on the weekends. We usually sleep later because we are up later (until maybe 8:00am), and we get up and go right downstairs to make pancakes and watch Shark Tank.

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

I travel a lot. When I’m in a hotel room my routine is different because I’m preparing for a presentation. I usually have to get up and get dressed right away. I also don’t have a garden or my husband with me :(

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

I am very easy on myself when I don’t do this routine—I figure it is for a good reason. Feeling guilty about it will only make it worse. I do notice that when I have to jump right into work, my day is longer, harder, and I feel more burnt out by the end of it.


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