On International Women’s Day, (which is March 8, in case you didn’t know), we kicked off a month-long series celebrating women—their contributions to the science of happiness, their focus on social connections, their words, and here, their habits. Read on for stories by ten kickass women on how they start their days and get inspired to find the best morning routine for you.
We can think of no better way to start our series than to share the wisdom of successful women—from doctors to designers. While these women come from different industries and backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: They’ve found the best morning routine that helps them achieve a productive and positive day.
10 Morning Routines of Successful Women You Should Try
Here, ten successful women share their best morning practices that keep them energized and organized to perform at their peak. Some of their habits might surprise you. Some might inspire you to build your own best morning routine for success.
Cindy Whitehead’s best morning routine involves…pigs?
Cindy is CEO of The Pink Ceiling, a VC fund and start-up incubator, which finds female-led or focused companies to invest in and mentor.
Her morning routine: “I’m up at 7 a.m. and check Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I come to life with my West Coast and insomniac friends’ overnight posts. This way, I start my day laughing. Then I move to the fridge. There’s never actually food there but I pour a huge tumbler of iced tea. Now I’m ready for email. After that, I take my dogs out and feed my pigs, Theodore and Talulah. [Then] I shower, pick my pink outfit, and bolt for the office or airport.”
How it helps power her day: “I’d break it down into laughter, love, attitude, and aspiration. I’ve collected such characters in my life—waking up laughing at their posts sets the tone for the day. The animals reinforce that. Nothing like their love to remind you what counts or their mess to keep you grounded. No matter where you find yourself in life, you still have to scrape the shit from your boots!
The fact that I check my fridge every day—despite the fact that I will never find food there—reminds me that I’m an optimist. And with that attitude and the aspiration, I get to work!”
Her biggest accomplishment: “I always knew that ownership was my path to freedom. Not only financial freedom but also the freedom to do what I truly cared about. I wanted others to have that too. Everyone who came to work for me was given a piece of ownership. With the outcomes we created together, I’m now witnessing the freedom ownership has given them. That ripple effect is definitely the accomplishment I’m most proud of.”
Hailey Harmon’s best morning routine is scientifically-approved
Hailey is founder of and designer for Aitch Aitch, a luxury handbag company that uses sustainable materials to create handbags and leather accessories.
Her morning routine: “Morning rituals are really important to me. I usually set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. Lately, I’ve been starting my morning with a quick self check-in. If I have time, I’ll write in my journal. I like to reflect on how I’m feeling, affirm positive thoughts, and set my intentions for the day.
I start my morning with lots of liquids—a pot of green tea and a turmeric latte. There’s a great view of the western side of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean from my apartment, and I like to sit at our table overlooking it while I sip my drinks and check my email. Then, I try to get some activity in, which recently has been Ashtanga Yoga. It’s the same sequence of postures that you build on as you practice, so it’s easy for me to remember.
Then it’s a shower. I’ll get dressed and put on a bit of makeup—I don’t wear a lot. After that, it’s off to work!”
How it helps power her day: “Because I work for myself, a routine is important to my well-being and self-care. I find that having a morning routine ensures that I don’t get too flustered before the day really gets started. It’s also a nice time to remind myself that I’ve accomplished a lot, even though I’ve set big goals for myself.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “Learning to be gentle and patient with myself. Every day of being an entrepreneur is emotionally and mentally taxing. Learning self-care and awareness of what is and is not in my control are some of the best tools I could bring with me as I live a more thoughtful lifestyle.”
Elana Lyn Gross’s best morning routine gets wisdom from Legally Blonde
Elana is a freelance writer and founder of Elana Lyn, a personal and professional development site for women.
Her morning routine: “I get out of bed at around 7:30 a.m. after hitting snooze once or twice. I like to work out in the morning because it makes me feel energized throughout the day. I’ll head to the gym and either do a class or a workout from an app. After getting ready, I grab a large coffee and head to the subway. When I’m on the train, I read The New York Times’ Daily Digest, The Broadsheet, and The Skimm. If there is still time, I read a book. I check my email, daily and weekly calendar, and make a to-do list for the day. Then it’s time for work!”
How it powers her day: “As Elle Woods would say, ‘Endorphins make people happy!’ Working out in the morning gives me energy for the day, plus it means that I can catch up with friends or go to events in the evening without missing a workout. I stay up-to-date on the news during my commute before going into a deeper dive later in the day. I write for multiple outlets, including my own site, so it’s crucial to stay organized. Making a to-do list in priority order helps me be mindful about what I work on each day.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “My biggest accomplishment has been creating a popular Career Profile series for Forbes and my website Elana Lyn. I have interviewed more than 250 women to showcase their career paths and advice.”
Dr. Doris Day’s best morning routine includes going back to bed
Doris Day, M.D., is a Board-certified dermatologist specializing in aesthetics, medical journalist, and author of Beyond Beautiful.
Her morning routine: “I’m usually up by 5 a.m. and try to start my day with a smile. I stretch for 10 minutes and do a series of squats and weighted arm lifts before going back to bed with my morning coffee, some almonds, and berries. Then I spend some time with my dog and my hubby to watch the morning news, read a variety of world newspapers on my computer, and catch up with email and social media before getting ready for work. I walk to and from work every day, which is just over two miles each way—about a 40-minute walk. My mind wanders as I walk, and I find that I come up with some of my best ideas during this time.”
How it helps power her day: “Stretching and working my muscles—both body and mind—help me start my day feeling productive, accomplished, and in control.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “My biggest accomplishment so far has been being able to incorporate all of my priorities without sacrificing any of them. I built a successful private practice, volunteer every week, have hosted a radio talk show for the past 10 years, wrote three books, and raised two children while being married to the love of my life for 28 years. I had many failures and hardships along the way. And I put in thousands of hours of work to reach these goals. But at each step, I made a decision to pursue a path that was important to me and that I believed I could achieve.”
Part of Dr. Sophia Yen’s morning routine is practicing what she preaches
Sophia Yen, M.D., is CEO and co-founder of Pandia Health, which brings birth control to women wherever they have internet and a mailbox.
Her morning routine: “I wake up around 8 a.m.—earlier if my daughters have questions they need answers to before school. I check my calendar, email, Slack, and finish research for anything that needs further prep before a meeting. Then I take my birth control, which was delivered by Pandia Health, and put on some hand lotion. Then I get dressed and grab my tote filled with Pandia Health swag, flyers, and business cards in case I run into a place to put a flyer or hand out cards.”
How it helps power her day: “Waking up to a loving environment, with my husband taking care of the morning routine and my daughters chatting happily, is a nice way to start the day.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “Opening, running, funding this company. I thought residency was hard, then breastfeeding—this is harder! You are responsible to your investors and your employees. If you mess up, you are hurting your investors, your family and friends who supported you, your employees, and yourself. My biggest luck has been finding an amazing life partner who is so supportive and having a supportive family and friends. I won’t stop until Pandia Health succeeds.”
Natalie Gray’s best morning routine starts the night before
Natalie is co-founder and head of product & design at Cover, a technology company that’s licensed to sell property and casualty insurance across the United States.
Her morning routine: “Getting a full eight hours of sleep is important to me, so I’m usually in bed by 11:30 p.m. and up by 7:30 a.m. The first thing I do in the morning is spend quality time with my dog. Next, I drink an entire liter of water. It’s really invigorating for my mind and body—more so than coffee. The next 30 minutes are my time for self-care. I read books on management, design, productivity, and communication. The topic is usually related to a project I’m working on or a skill I want to improve. Or I do a morning stretch and meditation. Afterward, I take the dog for a walk. Then I jump into the shower and I’m off to the office.”
How it helps power her day: “Start-up environments are fast-paced, exciting, and at times overwhelming. Now that our business is growing, it’s even more important that I lean into my routine, rather than working late, sleeping less, and rushing back to work. I know I need to be well-rested and de-stressed to do my best work. Without my routine, I’d run the risk of burnout, which is not a good place to be.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “I take immense pride in the work that my design team and I put into the products we launch. One of my proudest moments was having two companies I’ve founded, Cover and Stylekick, simultaneously have their apps featured on the front page of the App Store. Getting one app featured is difficult; getting two at the same time is incredibly rare.”
Lisa Price’s morning routine looks a lot like ours
Lisa is the founder of multicultural beauty brand Carol’s Daughter.
Her morning routine: “I am notorious for hitting the snooze button multiple times. Once I am awake, I look at my phone. I need to remember where I am (home or traveling), what day it is, and what I have to do and at what time. Then, I get out of bed and make my way downstairs to my kitchen and I make myself a cup of tea. (I gave up coffee in August and am struggling with it still). I drink my tea, take my vitamins, shower, and get ready. On my way to work, I check emails, messages, and Instagram as well as make phone calls as needed.”
How it helps power her day: “While my time in the morning can be a bit hustle and bustle, it has moments of gratitude. I am thankful for waking to see another day. Grateful for the ability to walk on two feet. And I love my showering process. I always incorporate wonderful smells and quick treatments to make that time special and productive. All of this helps to improve my outlook on the day ahead.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “Learning to get out of my own way, and not allowing my fears and insecurities to dictate what I do and who I am and what I have yet to become.”
Kate Williams’ morning routine puts family first
Kate is the founder of a women-led PR agency Pistol, which specializes in working with independent beauty, grooming, wellness, and lifestyle brands.
Her morning routine: “I usually wake up around 6 a.m. so I have a little time to get through urgent emails before my nine-month-old son wakes up at 6:30 a.m. We have clients in Australia, New Zealand, France, Sweden, and the UK, so they’re already somewhere between the middle of their work day and bedtime by the time I wake up. Once my son wakes up, I give him a bottle and have a little playtime. Then we head outside with my husband and dog, to our favorite coffee spot.
“I set a reminder on my Calm app to do a morning meditation, but in reality, this rarely happens. Back at home, I either shower and get ready if I have a breakfast meeting with an editor or hop on my bike and ride into our office in the city. Once at work, we have a team huddle to go over what we’re working on for the day (and flag anything that’s fallen flat), then I hit the ground running between client calls, editor meetings, and pitching.”
How it helps power her day: “Spending quality time with my husband and son in the mornings is the most important part of my day, and reminds me why I work so hard. Our morning walks set up the day and give me a chance to “solve the world’s problems” with my supportive husband. After becoming a mom, my free time is limited, so riding my bike to work is a great way of getting incidental exercise (and avoiding grumpy people on the subway).”
Ally Carlton-Smith fuels up her mornings right
Ally is part-time executive editor of Student Health 101, an online health and wellness publication for high school and college students.
Her morning routine: “I’m woken up by my 10-month-old baby, Scarlet, around 7 a.m., but have an amazing husband who takes over so that I can sleep. Around 8 a.m. I roll out of bed and feed Scarlet, play with her, and get her ready for daycare. My husband takes her to daycare around 9 a.m., at which point I make my favorite green smoothie, a waffle with peanut butter, and coffee (the most important part). Then I settle in for work.”
How it helps power her day: “Any mom knows that sleep is precious so that extra bit I get while my husband watches her is extremely helpful. Getting enough sleep makes a difference in my mood and energy, so I try to prioritize it as much as possible. On workdays, I don’t get to spend as much time with my daughter, so I try to appreciate that time with her. I miss her during the workday, so I like to play with her in the mornings. That helps me focus more on my work once she leaves.”
Her biggest accomplishment: “I’m proud of my career, but creating this little family with my husband and daughter feels like my biggest accomplishment. Motherhood is by far the most challenging experience of my life. It can be tough just getting through some days, and it was especially hard when I was sleep deprived and had new mom anxiety. Trying to juggle a career on top of that adds even more chaos. But it’s all flying by so I try to take in as many little moments with my family as I can.”
Aggie Burnett’s best morning routine is all about self-care
Aggie is a beauty brand strategist and publicist at AB Creative helping women brand founders and their beauty companies stand out.
Her morning routine: “My morning routine at home is very special to me. We’re a night owl family so we stay up late, which also means I rise on the later side—typically around 7 or 8 a.m. when our one-year-old son (our human alarm clock) wakes up. At this time I’ll usually do my positive affirmations and remind myself of my intention for the day. If I didn’t go to sleep too late the night before, I will try to do 15–20 minutes of writing before breakfast. During breakfast, we try to enjoy each others’ company, talking about the day ahead, the adventures we’ll have.”
“I always love to make the bed in the morning. It’s such a simple thing but I feel like it sets me up for a successful day ahead. Then I’ll typically get my son cleaned up after his breakfast and ready for his nanny before tidying up our apartment. Once the nanny arrives at 9:30, I’ll usually meditate for 10 minutes before heading to my office.”
How it helps power her day: This probably sounds like a long routine but because I don’t come home from work until around 8 p.m., I use my mornings as a way to connect with my family. It’s almost like rolling self-care and family time into one—it brings me a lot of joy. We try really hard to create a morning routine that doesn’t feel rushed, which can really negatively affect my day. My morning routine is THE thing that sets me up for a positive, productive, and successful day.”
Your turn: What’s your best morning routine? Share in the comments.
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Editor’s note: We’ve edited all responses for clarity and brevity.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.