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Book Summary: My Morning Routine – How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired

When so much of our lives is outside our control, it’s essential to focus on what we do have some power over – which is how we start the day.

Book Summary: My Morning Routine - How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired

Research shows that a purposeful, nurturing morning determines the tone for the rest of the day. Whether you like to start your morning off with a calm activity or an energizing morning workout is a matter of personal preference. The important thing is that you have a purposeful routine you’ll look forward to waking up to.

In My Morning Routine, Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander offer plenty of inspiration for developing your own early regimen. Besides general advice on getting into a routine, the authors present a myriad of case studies of Olympic medal winners, CEOs, famous authors and military generals describing how they start their days.

Content Summary

Genres
Recommendation
Take-Aways
Summary
About the author
Table of Contents
Overview
Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award
Video and Podcast
Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Genres

Business and Money, Skills, Self Help, Productivity, Personal Development, Psychology, Inspirational, Health, Adult, Personal Time Management, Success Self-Help

Recommendation

Do you stagger out of bed frazzled and overwhelmed? That’s no way to start the day, say Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander, co-founders of mymorningroutine.com. Their research shows that a purposeful, nurturing morning sets you up for the day ahead. In addition to suggestions for helpful morning rituals, they interview successful people – including Olympic medal winners, CEOs, authors and educators – about their morning habits to provide inspiration for developing your own early regimen.

Take-Aways

  • Your morning routine affects the rest of your day.
  • Learning how successful people begin their day can inspire you to craft your morning routine.
  • Successful people who feel most alert and energetic in the mornings use this time to get as much done as possible.
  • A consistent exercise routine nourishes your mind, body and spirit.
  • A meditation or mindfulness practice gives your day clarity, focus and a sense of peace.
  • Create an evening routine that helps you relax, let go of daily demands and organize the next morning.
  • A good night’s sleep provides energy for your morning routine and enables high performance during the day.
  • Parents should continually adapt their morning routines to evolve with the changing needs of their families.
  • Beginning the day with self-care and attention sets you up to handle whatever may follow.

Summary

Your morning routine affects the rest of your day.

Hurrying through the first hours of the morning will not help you face the day awake, alert and ready. Productive, successful people start their days deliberately, with intention. A morning routine is not one-size-fits-all. What works for one person may not be right for another. Your work hours, your personal rhythms and your children, if you have kids, dictate the best way to begin your day. Some people commit to uncluttered living and rigorous exercise. Others prefer a routine focused on spiritual pursuits and self-care. A rejuvenating morning routine makes the difference between reaching your daily objectives and falling short.

“The choices we make during the first hour or so of our morning determine whether we have productivity and peace of mind for the rest of the day or whether it will clobber us over the head.”

As you go through different stages of life, your morning routine will evolve. If you align your actions with your beliefs and intentions, how you shape your mornings will add value to your life. Whether you’re an early riser or a late sleeper doesn’t matter. The first hour of your day, whatever time it may occur, paves the way for the remainder.

Learning how other people begin their day can inspire you to craft your morning routine.

Do you fly out of bed five minutes before you need to be on your way to work or school? If so, you aren’t allowing sufficient time for a beneficial morning routine. To carve out time after you wake up, set your alarm five minutes before your usual time. Add five minutes every week until you have created time to carry out a morning routine before rushing out of the door. Break the snooze button habit. For most people, hitting snooze makes them grumpier and more sluggish than getting up the first time the alarm sounds.

“If you struggle to wake up in the morning, there are two solutions that are guaranteed to exponentially improve your odds: 1. Having a baby. 2. Getting a dog.”

To start your morning, make your bed. Keep the television and your digital devices turned off. Listen to classical or soothing music. Take a moment to feel gratitude or say a prayer. Going for a walk, run or bike ride sets a positive intention for the day.

Writer and former firefighter Caroline Paul begins each day with a cup of coffee and a book or an issue of The New Yorker. She sets her alarm to rise between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., so she can write before the morning steals away. Paul often finds that the transition from the stillness of early morning to the bustle of daily life is “jarring.” James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, starts his day at 6 a.m. with a cappuccino. He and his wife enjoy sipping their coffee and reading The New York Times in bed before beginning their work or workouts.

Successful people who feel most alert and energetic in the mornings use this time to get as much done as possible.

Those who consider themselves morning people find that they work most productively during the first hours of the day. Start your day with focus and intention. Create a to-do list at day’s end to work on in the morning. Writing tasks down frees your mind from thinking about what you need to do. Limit your list to five or six items, and work your way through it, crossing them off as you go. ​​​Tackle the most urgent items first, when you’re most alert and focused. Protect your productive morning time by scheduling calls, meetings and less-demanding tasks for later in the day.

Checking your email first thing upon waking generally isn’t a good idea; it means relinquishing control of your actions and thoughts, and compels you to answer other people’s questions and demands. However, to the contrary, L. Rafael Reif, the president of MIT, does check his email first thing. He’s usually up before his 6 a.m. alarm goes off. He scans his mail then, so he can respond to anything urgent that might have happened overseas during the night. After that, he can eat breakfast and read the news at a leisurely pace before showering and heading to work.

“The moment you open your email you enter reactive mode, and you begin working on someone else’s agenda rather than your own.”

Author Maria Konnikova orchestrates her mornings even though the rest of her day is topsy-turvy. She admits, “my writing is a mess,” but morning is when she “gets stuff done.” She begins the day around 6 a.m., drinks a cup of tea, and practices yoga and meditation. She jots notes in a planner in the evening, though she seldom refers to it the next day; just writing tasks down clears her mind. “Mornings are my most productive time of day,” says the founder of Farnam Street, Shane Parrish. He begins early with coffee, and works on two or three projects that he prioritized the previous evening. He lets email and breakfast wait until he’s completed a “good chunk of work.” Vanguard Group board chair Bill McNabb likes to be at his desk no later than 6:15. He enjoys having the time to prepare and catch up on the news from around the globe.

A consistent exercise routine nourishes your mind, body and spirit.

Incorporating a workout into your morning routine puts your day on a positive track. Some people prefer to exercise later in the day, but finding a time that fits into your daily schedule and sticking with it is what matters. Try to vary your exercise. For example, do cardio activity one morning and weight training the next. If you haven’t worked out regularly, start with short, manageable exercises. A few push-ups, squats and stretches will get your blood flowing. You’re more likely to persevere if you work out with a partner and get everything ready the night before. Give yourself little rewards for working out. They can be as simple as watching a fun, trashy TV show while you’re on the treadmill.

“When you embrace the early morning sweat, you know that regardless of anything else that happens (or doesn’t happen) throughout your day, you got your workout in.”

Leadership author and retired US Army general Stanley McChrystal begins his day at 4 a.m. with an hour-and-a-half workout, alternating running with weight training. He lays out his exercise clothes and shoes in the bathroom the night before so he can dress quickly and hit the road. Sherry Lansing, former top executive at Paramount Pictures, exercises four mornings a week, alternating between Pilates and running on the treadmill. She set a goal of not letting meetings and calls throw her off her workout schedule. Long-distance swimmer Sarah Kathleen Peck begins her days in the pool, starting by 6:50 and wrapping up by 8:15. To stay fresh, she sleeps late twice a week and takes Sunday mornings off to rest, watch the sunrise and read in bed.

A meditation or mindfulness practice gives your day clarity, focus and a sense of peace.

Meditation improves concentration, boosts focus, reduces stress and helps you sleep better. You can use an app for guided meditation, practice mindfulness by focusing on your breath, or devote five or 10 minutes to a sit-down practice. Building meditation and mindfulness into your morning routine is not difficult. Focus your attention and hone your awareness while you boil water for tea or make coffee. Let your mind linger on meditative thoughts while you’re running or exercising. Find moments throughout the day to stay present and bring a heightened awareness to your thoughts and the world around you.

“Meditation can include everything from heaving yourself into the lotus position (often against your best judgment) at a weekend retreat, to waiting patiently while your teakettle boils, to playing with your kids in the morning.”

Author Ruth Ozeki varies her morning routine according to whether she’s teaching, writing or leading a meditation retreat. Most mornings, she practices zazen meditation first thing for half an hour. Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios president Ed Catmull meditates for up to 60 minutes every morning before exercising. It helps him quiet negative thoughts and calms his tendency to ruminate about past events or concerns. Aiste Gazdar, founder of the Wild Food Café, uses daily morning meditation to “iron things out from the other side of conscious awareness.” Meditation puts struggles into perspective by bringing feelings of gratitude for the richness of life to the surface.

Create an evening routine that helps you relax, let go of daily demands and organize the next morning.

Not everyone has free evenings, but if you usually spend evenings at home, use the time wisely rather than plopping down in front of the television. Some people prefer to work at night, but even night owls should establish a calming practice for going to bed. Evening activities that people find beneficial include selecting their clothes for the next day and getting their workout clothes ready. Write to-do lists at the end of the workday, and review the next day’s schedule. Waking up to a tidy home is nice, so clean up before bed. Put the kitchen in order and set up your coffee maker. The time you spend winding down in the evening opens opportunities the next morning to meditate, pray, practice gratitude or write in a journal.

“Most people spend their evenings running up the hours before they’re finally bored enough to go to bed.”

Jenny Blake, an author and speaker, thinks about the things she’s grateful for and asks herself “wind-down” questions before she falls asleep, such as, “What was my highlight of the day?” Bob Moore, the founder of Bob’s Red Mill, enjoys reading in the evenings after he takes a shower and picks out his clothes for the following day. Sometimes, he gets so caught up in a biography or history book that he goes back to reading it if he awakens in the night. Author and educator José Luis Vilson extols the benefits of a before-bed cup of chamomile tea to help him sleep and stay hydrated during the night.

A good night’s sleep provides energy for your morning routine and enables high performance during the day.

That adults can get by on less than seven to nine hours of sleep is a common misconception. Some people function well on less, but most people feel the ill effects of not getting enough sleep. To get the best sleep possible, go to bed a little earlier, and follow consistent bedtimes and waking-up times. Make your bedroom a sleep haven by keeping it dark, quiet and cool. Invest in a high-quality mattress, and good pillows and bedding. Beginning in the late afternoon, avoid caffeinated beverages. When it’s time to go to sleep, make your bedroom a digital-device-free zone. Televisions and digital devices emit a blue light that interrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythms.

“You deserve to give yourself the best shot at your morning routine, and the best way to do that is by making sure you’re well-rested.”

Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post, considers her bedtime ritual “sacrosanct.” She turns off her digital devices, takes a hot bath by candlelight, and often drinks a cup of calming chamomile or lavender tea. Her goal is to “catch the midnight train” – that is, to be asleep by midnight. Tidying expert Marie Kondo straightens up her house and puts comforting essential oils on the back of her neck before getting in bed. Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, calls himself a “world-class compartmentalizer.” He leaves work at his desk and doesn’t think about it when trying to fall sleep.

Parents should continually adapt their morning routines to evolve with the changing needs of their families.

When kids become part of the mix, your old morning routines fade into the past. Once the baby is sleeping through the night, consider rising before his or her wake-up time to carve out a precious hour for yourself. Children force you to become more adaptable as their needs change. Routines matter to babies and young kids because they provide a sense of security and well-being. Ignore your digital devices in the mornings so you can focus solely on your kids. Early morning is a great time to tell stories, share a meal and catch up. Always take a moment to say goodbye for the work or school day with a hug and a kiss.

“Having a great start to the day with your children is so important to your (and their) overall happiness. Embrace it; it is everything.”

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone plays with his son for around an hour before leaving for work. Legos were popular with him for a while, but more recently they’ve been playing Minecraft on an iPad. Emily Schuman, founder of Cupcakes and Cashmere, enjoys the time she spends in the morning reading and playing with her two-year-old daughter. Before Schuman had kids, her mornings featured less structure, but now she finds that she enjoys the mommy-baby routine. Before he had children, journalist Nick Bilton used to write in the mornings. Now, he’s up at 5:30 with his toddler. Chasing him around the house has become Bilton’s morning workout.

Beginning the day with self-care and attention sets you up to handle whatever may follow.

Every morning offers the possibility of a “clean slate” and the ability to start fresh. Taking care of your needs first thing helps you respond calmly and productively to the day’s challenges. The “me time” you enjoy in the morning’s quiet hours can become precious and necessary for your well-being.

“Without a routine, you’re like a ship without a rudder, veering this way and that, but never truly sailing the course you’ve set.”

Making the most of the day’s beginning allows you to fortify yourself for upcoming demands and thoughtfully prioritize your responsibilities. The sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete an important project before lunch or get in an early workout is uplifting and energizing.

About the author

Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander co-founded the online magazine My Morning Routine. Spall writes for The New York Times, Observer and Business Insider. Xander is a product designer and engineer.

Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander are the founders of mymorningroutine.com. Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin), in which today’s most talented creatives and businesspeople share their secrets to unlocking greater energy, focus, and calm—starting first thing in the morning. He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.

My Morning Routine | Facebook @morningroutines
My Morning Routine | Twitter @morningroutines
My Morning Routine | Instagram @morningroutines

Overview

ONE OF AMAZON’S BEST BUSINESS BOOKS OF 2018
ONE OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES BUSINESS BOOKS OF THE MONTH ON RELEASE
ONE OF BUSINESS INSIDER’S BEST BUSINESS BOOKS TO READ THIS SUMMER

A guide to the early morning habits that boost your productivity and relax you—featuring interviews with leaders like Arianna Huffington, General Stanley McChrystal, Marie Kondo, and more.

Marie Kondo performs a quick tidying ritual to quiet her mind before leaving the house. The president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Ed Catmull, mixes three shots of espresso with three scoops of cocoa powder and two sweeteners. Fitness expert Jillian Michaels doesn’t set an alarm, because her five-year-old jolts her from sleep by jumping into bed for a cuddle every morning.

Part instruction manual, part someone else’s diary, the authors of My Morning Routine interviewed sixty-four of today’s most successful people, including three-time Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, and General Stanley McChrystal–and offer timeless advice on creating a routine of your own.

Some routines are all about early morning exercise and spartan living; others are more leisurely and self-indulgent. What they have in common is they don’t feel like a chore. Once you land on the right routine, you’ll look forward to waking up.

This comprehensive guide will show you how to get into a routine that works for you so that you can develop the habits that move you forward. Just as a Jenga stack is only as sturdy as its foundational blocks, the choices we make throughout our day depend on the intentions we set in the morning. Like it or not, our morning habits form the stack that our whole day is built on.

Whether you want to boost your productivity, implement a workout or meditation routine, or just learn to roll with the punches in the morning, this book has you covered.

Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award

“After a productive morning where I accomplish my big things, the rest of the day can be played by ear. It’s all extra from there.” – Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle Is the Way

“A big part of my morning routine is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t look at my phone.” – Arianna Huffington

“The quiet time between 6:00-7:30 AM is when some of my best work gets done. It’s my time to read, think, and prepare for the day ahead.” – Bill McNabb, chairman of The Vanguard Group

“If I don’t get a chance to play with my son in the morning I feel like I missed something that I’ll never get back.” – Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter

“I travel a lot for work, so my days are always different. Having a morning routine really means fitting things in around everything else.” – Cameron Russell, fashion model and cultural activist

“Find certain things you know you should do, don’t like to do, or make excuses to avoid, and then do them every day.” – General Stanley McChrystal, author of Team of Teams; retired U.S. Army General

Video and Podcast

Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Chapter 1: Getting Up

How to Move from Your Bed to Your Morning

Waking up in the morning may be at the very top of your list of least favorite things to do, but it is, unfortunately, essential to starting your morning routine.

Deafening fire alarms and cumbersome roommates aside, there are few things that will wake you up as fast and fully as having a morning routine that you love and can’t wait to get started on. With that said, sometimes we need a little push to get ourselves over the line (or rather, out of the bed) and to fully wake ourselves up in the morning.

In this chapter we’ll speak with (among others) the president of MIT, L. Rafael Reif, about how he spends his first few hours upon waking; the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, Daisy Khan, on how the month of Ramadan brings a big change to her mornings; and economist and author Tyler Cowen on his unique take on breakfast (smoked trout and cheese, anyone?).

Caroline Paul

Author of Lost Cat, former firefighter

When you’re a creature of habit, and you’re in no rush to change.

What is your morning routine?

I set an alarm for anywhere between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., depending on when I get to sleep. I need sleep, but I need to wake up early more, or my day feels shot.

Next I make coffee, feed the milling animals, grab two protein bars, and sit down to read. Not the newspaper, though I do often check the headlines, but a real, honest-to-God book. If one’s not around I will settle for the New Yorker. It’s a sacred time for me, because reading has always been a part of my life and it’s hard to find time for it. As a writer, it’s also a vital part of my work. At this time, my partner, Wendy, is still asleep, the doggie has gone back to bed, one cat has gone outside, so there are only two other animals to contend with, one a cat and she curls up on my lap, and the other my own rambling mind, and we both stay there until the house stirs and comes to life. I have to say that the transition from the world being mine to the moment it seems to splinter and everyone wakes up-phones ring, emails come in, the dog reappears-is always jarring.

How long have you stuck with this routine? What has changed?

I’ve started my day with the same meal and coffee (Peets French roast, one large cup, so strong you could probably eat it with a spoon) for almost thirty years. Gosh, that’s sort of embarrassing, seeing that so starkly on paper. But that consistency first thing grounds me, and sets me up to be able to handle whatever is thrown my way.

When I was a firefighter I didn’t read in the morning, and I was a little looser about my wake-up time because you never knew how much of the night would be spent working at a fire or on medical calls, and I’m useless without sleep.

When I became a full-time writer and had to make my own schedule I became adamant about setting the alarm and getting up. I needed the structure, and I needed to start back on whatever book I was writing before the morning slipped away. People think that when you work outside of an office you can sleep in and how glorious that must be, but to me that’s the road to discombobulation and dismay.

Have you always used an alarm to wake up?

Always. I’ve tried to train myself to wake up without one because it seems like a cool superpower, but I spend all night thinking about whether I’ll wake up, and the anxiety isn’t worth it. Once the alarm goes off, I sort of doze, but I have a dog and two cats who have heard the alarm and stare at me until I get up. It’s called the animal snooze button.

What time do you go to sleep?

I would love to go to bed by 9:00 p.m. every evening. I’m just not a night person. Once the sun goes down I think, huh, not much to do anymore, and I sort of begin to look forward to the next morning already.

How does your partner fit into your morning?

Wendy’s best work (she’s an illustrator) is done at night, so she doesn’t value her mornings like I do. This works because I get my quiet morning and she gets to sleep without me tossing and turning.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends?

I like to get up early no matter what, but I may not set the alarm, in deference to Wendy. If I’m writing on a Saturday or Sunday, though, then I set the alarm like it’s a weekday.

What happens if you’re traveling?

When we travel my bag is always overweight because it’s got maybe two pants and two shirts and then thirty protein bars, five books, and a bag of coffee. Wendy will say, “Caroline, it’s NEW YORK CITY, they have everything!” But, nope, I’m not going to leave my morning routine to chance. Wendy is much more loosey-goosey with her days. She used to pester me to lighten the load, but it’s been nine years and she doesn’t bother anymore.

James Freeman

Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee

When your old espresso machine gets you up in the morning and helps you make your most important decisions.

What is your morning routine?

I get up at 6:00 a.m. most days, unless the babies get me up before. I have an alarm clock with no snooze bar, so I can’t be tempted to hit it. I have an old espresso machine (a late 1970s La San Marco Leva) that is set on a timer, so when I wake up the machine has been warming up and is at optimal temperature for making coffee.

After I get up, I make a cappuccino for me and a cafŽ au lait for my wife. I’m less optimistic before I have coffee, so my general rule is not to make any important decisions before I have it.

If I’m lucky, I have ten to twenty minutes to chat with my wife and read the New York Times in bed as we drink our coffee. Sometimes the dog needs to go out during this time and I have to be okay with it.

I leave for my workout at around 6:45. Post-workout, I shower, eat breakfast, feed and dress the babies, dress myself, and hop in the car. I usually have a playlist in mind for the drive to Oakland. I used to listen to NPR but it just got too depressing.

How long have you stuck with this routine? What has changed?

Several years. As we add babies, my mornings get more hectic, but so far everyone is getting what they need.

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

The kitchen is always cleaned and the house tidied before we go to bed. It’s hard to fit it in but it’s gratifying to wake up to a peaceful environment.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?

I eat breakfast when I get back from my workout. Usually a yogurt and fruit smoothie, or just yogurt, jam, and chopped raw almonds. My favorite yogurt is an organically certified, full fat, Jersey milk yogurt from Saint Beno”t.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Four days a week I do a boot camp in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. It’s exhausting and arduous and clears my mind like nothing else I’ve ever done. The teacher gives the impression of never wanting to be anywhere else doing anything else, which is quite rare, in my experience.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your morning routine?

Is a coffee maker a product? Pajamas? A nice robe? Maybe I’m just too old but I don’t believe that one’s life can be hacked; it can only be lived.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Once I get to work, I try to concentrate most deeply on the people or problems that are in front of me, so, in that sense, my most important task prior to arriving at work is to arrive with a clear head and a pleasant attitude.

What happens if you’re traveling?

I travel with a coffee kit so I can have control over making coffee. I have an app on my phone that I use to do an interval workout if I am away from San Francisco. Running in the parks and neighborhoods of great cities when I travel is a pleasure. I try not to schedule myself too early when I’m traveling so I can fit in a coffee and a run each morning.

Andre D. Wagner

Artist, New York City street photographer

When your creative job requires you to be “on” all day long.

What is your morning routine?

I usually wake up around 6:00 a.m. to have some silent time to myself. I also keep a journal, so some days I’ll write.

When I’m not photographing for hire, I’m usually out the door by 7:00 or 7:30 with my camera in hand, ready to enjoy the day. My routine changes from time to time, but I always wake up early. The morning is by far my favorite time of day. As a street photographer, I’m always engaging with people, watching people, walking all day, and being fully stimulated all at the same time. Days become full and draining. It’s important that I get some quiet time to myself; it helps me stay balanced in such an emotional city.

When I’m working on photo projects I will adapt my routine to it. Two years ago when I was working in a photo studio, I would leave my house at 7:00 because I wanted to photograph in the subway for an hour or two before I had to be at work. Now that it’s summertime and the light is so beautiful when the sun is rising I like to get out and take advantage of it.

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

I’m a neat freak and I like everything to be clean. Waking up to a clean apartment is the absolute best. It keeps my mind clear.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Two or three times a week I’ll ride my bike to Prospect Park and do a lap or two. It’s great because there aren’t many people out yet, and the park is pretty quiet. My favorite is in the fall, when we start to get that brisk morning air.

How about morning meditation?

Waking up in a clean apartment, beautiful light shining through my windows, and Miles Davis playing is my meditation.

When do you first check your phone?

I’ll check my phone before I leave the house, but I try not to check it while I’m in bed. When I’m waking up I like to keep a space for my own thoughts and ideas. Sometimes there’s nothing, and that’s totally fine. On occasion, I’ll think of something that will add to a project I’m working on, or just reflect on something that impacted me, whether an interaction from photography or just a personal exchange. When I wake up, checking my phone is not a priority of mine.

L. Rafael Reif

President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

When staying on top of the news feels like a full-time job.

What is your morning routine?

I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. but I rarely get to hear it-I almost always wake up around 5:00 or 5:30 on my own.

The moment I wake up I drink a glass of water, then I check my email. As MIT is global on so many levels, I try to stay current on what’s going on around the world, and I want to know what happened overseas during the night. I’ll try to respond to any urgent messages right away, then I take my phone or tablet to breakfast and read the news while I eat.

After breakfast I shower, get dressed, and then I’m off to my first meeting of the day.

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to go to bed around 11:00 p.m. I always read something, a magazine or a book, before lights out. I start reading that week’s edition of the Economist on Saturdays, and that lasts me for a few days. Then I’ll move on to a book for the rest of the week. I love reading history books and biographies; it’s fascinating to look back at what happened, why it happened, and who made it happen.

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

Before I wrap up for the night, I look at the next day’s schedule to see what my staff has gotten me into over the next twenty-four hours!

I use a fitness/sleep tracker. It tells me how many hours I slept and the quality of my sleep. It’s a curiosity more than anything else. I love data, and I love comparing what the data says about my rest to how I think I slept.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?

Once I’ve responded to any urgent emails from overnight, I go downstairs for breakfast. My wife usually wakes up around the same time and joins me. We both read the news while having breakfast and comment to each other on the issues of the day.

What happens if you fail?

If I don’t have a chance to check my email, I worry about what I’m missing. (Even when I do check my email, I still worry!) And it happens rarely, but if I miss breakfast for some reason, it throws me off for the whole day. The word “grumpy” comes to mind.

Daisy Khan

Executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement

When Ramadan wakes you up for dawn prayers, and you go back to sleep on a full stomach.

What is your morning routine?

My wake-up time depends on the fluctuating prayer time (I adjust my wake-up time accordingly). Ramadan is a month when the body, soul, and mind not only get challenged but transformed as well. This Ramadan is really tough; I sleep at midnight, wake up from my deep sleep at 3:15 a.m. to eat a meal (suhur), then I finish my dawn prayer and go back to sleep on a full stomach at 4:30, only to wake up again at 8:30 to go to work.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?

I have to maintain an alkaline diet, so I drink lemon water right after getting up. I’ll then eat a very healthy breakfast about two hours later, because I skip lunch. I start with black tea with milk (an English-breakfast variety), cooked fava beans (protein), cucumbers, arugula, or eggs, with gluten-free bread and homemade jams (made by me).

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