“Mornings are so precious because it’s when I’m most productive. For me, thirty minutes at 5:30am is equivalent to at least an hour at 3:00pm.” – Whitney Johnson Share this quote on Twitter

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Whitney Johnson

What is your morning routine?

Once I roll out of bed between 5:00 and 5:30am, I go downstairs and get myself a great big glass of ice water. I then head back upstairs to my office​, sit at my desk, and read a scriptural text. During this time of meditation and thinking, I have thoughts and ideas of things I need to do that day that weren’t already on my calendar. Normally they’re about people I need to reach out to, sometimes business-related and sometimes not. This is when my brain is clearest and I am the least likely to edit my ideas or thoughts. I tend to think a bit more expansively during this time.

As I’m thinking, I pull out a piece of scratch paper and make a to-do list. This is in addition to my master Excel spreadsheet that lists things I want to accomplish during the day, the week, and the quarter.

In the morning I’m thirsty but not very hungry, so I eat between 8:00 and 9:00am. My favorite breakfasts include leftovers—this past week I had chicken and cheese enchiladas for breakfast—but a staple is scrambled eggs with cheese. I love cheese, and it is low on carbohydrates (I’m pre-diabetic), so even better.

This, of course, is when I’m at home. When I’m on the road, my routine varies slightly. I generally travel to either speak or consult with a corporate client, so I wake up early, mentally run through my notes and what I’m going to say while still lying in bed, and then meditate and pray before heading out.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

It’s been off and on for decades.

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When I was at Rose Park Advisors, I got up and went into the office every day. I still made time in the morning to meditate, pray, and think, but I had to get cleaned up for the day fairly early. Now, on the days when I work from home, I often go for a quick walk around 8:30 or 9:00am as a sort of break before getting cleaned up for the day. The thing that has helped me stick to a new routine is realizing that there are so many things that I want to get done. So many. Mornings are so precious because it’s when I’m most productive. For me, thirty minutes at 5:30am is equivalent to at least an hour at 3:00pm. I want and need that time to do things that actually require me to create, like writing.​

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Not looking at my email until I’ve had a chance to meditate, pray, and put in at least an hour of heavy-lifting on projects that require all my brain, like writing a book.

What time do you go to sleep?

Between 9:00-10:00pm.

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

Plan out my schedule for the next day.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning?

Only when I have to catch a plane and can’t risk not waking up. Otherwise, I wake up on my own.

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

Typically 3-4 hours after waking up. Sometimes I have a kale smoothie, sometimes eggs, sometimes leftovers, sometimes fruit.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

No. It’s frustrating because I love playing tennis in the morning, but I’m so productive at that time that I’ve had to move tennis to the evening. On Fridays and Saturdays I treat myself and play tennis in the morning.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

I read sacred texts like the Bible and Book of Mormon, think, and pray.

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

When my day goes the way I want it to, I wait until I’ve been up for 3-4 hours.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Sometimes as soon as I get up, but at least 50 percent of the time I wait for a few hours.

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

My husband tends to get up about half an hour after me. We only have one child still at home, and she is fairly autonomous.

Our children are growing up. We have a son who is away at college and a daughter who is a junior in high school. Because she now has her driver’s license, she gets up and drives herself to early morning seminary (religious class) at 6:00am before heading over to the high school.​ Some days my husband gets up and exercises before heading over to the university where he teaches. Some days, but not all, we quickly check in with each other around 6:00am before our daughter leaves. We might have a quick breakfast or morning family prayer before they head off, and then I head back up to my office.

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

On weekends I sleep until 6:00 or 7:00am. On Saturdays, I may exercise in the morning—either tennis or a walk with my husband. On Sundays, we head to church.

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

I wake up even earlier. I think it’s because I am more focused. I don’t watch TV when I’m not at home, nor do I have the distraction of my husband or children. I just fall asleep when I am ready and then get up earlier. Jet lag tends to help, too.

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

When I don’t wake up early I feel like I’m behind all day long. No real thinking has happened and I tend to be reactive, just putting out fires.


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