Successful People Swear By These Morning Habits

Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
You could argue there are two types of people in this world: the morning person who’s inexplicably chipper at 5 a.m., and the person who hits snooze once, twice…sometimes three times before rolling out of bed with a grimace. Regardless of which you are, there's no question that time is a precious commodity considering there are only 24 hours in a day. So it’s no wonder why many successful leaders wake up at the crack of dawn to get shit done — whether that time is used to hit up a Pilates studio or to meditate on the day ahead.

On a quest to find out whether the early bird really does catch the worm, we picked the brains of five successful power players — like Kimberly Drew, the social media manager of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Alicia Yoon, founder of Korean beauty site Peach & Lily — to uncover their a.m. habits (and steal a few for ourselves). Here’s to hoping these tips inspire you to rise — and shine — earlier.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Avoid Social Media
"I stay away from social media in the mornings," says Nike master trainer Traci Copeland. "Looking at somebody else’s life — especially when you first wake up — can distract from your own personal goals." We know, it’s a tall order. But Copeland suggests keeping your phone turned over and on silent until you’ve had a chance to collect your thoughts and prepare for the day ahead. Use your phone-free time to write down goals on a sheet of paper or to enjoy some blissful silence while you drink your morning cup of joe. You know the expression, "Out of sight, out of mind"? It turns out, it's true.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Talk To Yourself
We all have an inner voice that prompts us to make decisions — to take the new job or to buy that killer pair of mules. For some, like Kimberly Drew, that voice is also a powerful tool. "It may sound weird, but I’ve been talking to myself my entire life," she quips. "I make a point to silently tell myself positive, goal-oriented affirmations. Like: I know I can do X task in X amount of time. It helps keep me on the right path, even if I’m doubting myself." In other words — fake it 'til you make it.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Show Up Early
Instead of showing up to the office right on time (or, let's be real, a few minutes late), try going in before the rest of your colleagues. Use the extra time to check your to-do list, emails, and calendar before the day gets underway. "I used to be at my desk by 9 a.m., but now I'm there by 7:30. I like having that little bit of alone time to get through all of the emails from my business partners in Korea and to feel ahead of the curve," says Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily. "Once other people come in, there are a lot of meetings and events and no time to focus on the smaller things that need to get done."
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Phone A Friend
Katie Sturino is the founder of the body-positive blog The 12ish Style, owner of our favorite tongue-bearing pup Toast, and a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. In other words — she knows how to get stuff done. Sturino suggests finding someone who can keep you accountable and talking to them every morning. "I’ve been my own boss since I was 26 years old, so it’s nice to have someone you can rely on to keep you in check," she says. "For me, that person is my sister. We talk multiple times per day. She knows everything that’s going on in my life and exactly what needs to get done. [She's] sort of like the boss I never had."
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Read Up
Refinery29's own producer and lifestyle host, Lucie Fink, prepares for the day by skimming the headlines. "I pull up The New York Times Morning Briefing during my morning commute on the subway so that I’m always in-the-know," she explains. "Even if it's as simple as reading just the topline news, it helps me feel confident in my abilities on — and off — screen throughout the day." After all, knowledge is power.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Reclaim Your Morning
Mornings are often rushed and merely filled with the activities that kick off your workday. But you can actually enjoy your morning. While we're not recommending having full-on brunch and mimosas, we do suggest getting into the habit of doing something meaningful before the hustle starts. "I go to the High Line Hotel every morning for an iced coffee and love going on a long walk — even though Toast doesn't like to walk much," jokes Sturino. "Starting on a softer note sets the tone for the rest of the day. It's a little ritual of mine."
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Stay In Bed
Setting your alarm a little earlier doesn't have to mean getting straight out of bed. Yoon spends an extra 10 minutes in bed each morning, meditating on the things she’s grateful for and what she’d like to accomplish in the day ahead. "Meditating in the morning helps me feel like I’m living out the rest of the day with intention and purpose, as opposed to being reactive to whatever comes my way," she explains. "It sounds cliché, but the effects of a short, guided session in the morning last all day long." And on that note — namaste.