Whether you're a repeat snoozer, an early riser, a long shower in the morning, or a dash out of the door kind of morning person, how you start your day often sets the tone for the rest of your waking hours. There's the old adage that the most successful people are early risers, but if you need a few extra winks to power through your tasks for the day, figuring out the right balance can feel like a daunting task.
Need some inspiration? In their book My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired, authors Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander talked to dozens of high-powered people in a variety of industries and lifestyles to see how they manage their days from waking up to powering down. Ahead, Spall and Xander explain how you can take what you need from their examples, and they share three examples from different women in the book.
Refinery29: Why do you think people are so fascinated by other people's routines?
Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander: "We think this is a combination of wanting to learn how to better ourselves through tips and ideas from other people, while at the same time enjoying the voyeurism that comes with this. We refer to our book as part instruction manual, part someone else's diary, because that's how you begin to feel about it as you go through the pages, reading one routine after another and then, at the end of each chapter, being presented with our own tips, suggestions, and takeaways gathered from the collective wisdom of the hundreds of people we've interviewed about their morning routines over the past five years."
What routines were most interesting to you or surprised you in any way?
Spall and Xander: "We loved Sonia Rao's interview as it was exciting to go deep with a touring singer-songwriter about how she gets herself ready in the morning, especially when she was up late performing the night before! We also loved reading about how three-time Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni tries to avoid decision fatigue in the morning, as well as about the one thing that Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, makes herself do before leaving the house every morning (the clue is in her book's title!)."
A lot of different people and industries are represented in the book. Were there any trends or similarities among them?
Spall and Xander: "We found that there's no singular best morning routine for everyone, but there are a lot of trends that come up time and again, which clearly indicate certain things are consistently working for people. For example, we quickly noticed that of all the people we were interviewing, well over 90% of them did not hit the snooze button in the morning. Many used an alarm, even if just as a backup to hedge against oversleeping, but the idea of hitting the snooze button first thing was a complete no-no to them. At the opposite end of the day, we found that a large number of the people we spoke with tidy up their home before going to bed at night to allow them to wake up to a fresh slate. James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, told us that in his house the kitchen is always cleaned and the house tidied the night before. In his words, it's 'gratifying to wake up to a peaceful environment.'"
What might our readers learn from this book about what it takes to structure a routine that works for them in their professional lives?
Spall and Xander: "The book gives you a peek into the lives of busy, successful people, and makes it simple to replicate what they do, but that doesn't mean you need to replicate any one routine exactly. There's a great line in the book from the writer Shaka Senghor: 'Find a routine that works for you. Do not feel pressured to adjust to other people’s standards of what your morning should look like. Be flexible and know when to pivot to make things as simple as possible for yourself.' Don't feel you need to change your whole routine all at once. Keeping your routine short and easy to accomplish, especially in the beginning, will greatly increase your chances of sticking to it over the long term."
The following slides are excerpted from My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander, in agreement with Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.