Life would be perfect if only we could all rise naturally at 5 a.m., go exercise for an hour, drink a homemade green juice while writing in our gratitude journals, have those birds from Cinderella tie our clothes on, and then peacefully stroll to our office. And yet, we snooze. We dawdle. We hate-read Twitter in bed.
If you’re in need of some a.m. inspiration, might we suggest studying the morning routines of the iconic women ahead. Some are #goals, but attainable goals (I see you, Esther Perel, listening to the news and swimming with your girlfriends).
Others are in another stratosphere (hi, Oprah, casually meditating in a grove of oak trees). As ever, take what speaks to you and leave the rest.
Marie Kondo, organizational consultant and author
“I wake up naturally around 6 or 6:30 a.m. I rarely use an alarm clock. After waking up, I open all of the windows, let the breeze in, and then burn incense,” the Tidy Queen told The Cut. “At home we have a Japanese-style kamidana [Shinto household altar]. On the shelf there is some salt, some rice, and some evergreen fronds, and I’ll give this a once-over, freshening things up.
“Then I’ll pray for the health of my family and friends, and also for myself to get done as much as possible what needs to be done. This is not a religious thing really at all. It’s just for me to take this time every morning to feel gratitude. It’s a practice I started when I was still single, maybe about seven years ago.”
Julia Hartz, CEO of EventBrite
“6am: yoga, 7am: shower, rush rush rush, 8am: school run, 8:30am: office,” is how she put it to the Tory Burch Foundation.
Whitney Wolfe, CEO and founder of Bumble
“Most of my days are unpredictable and start at different times, so I try my best to keep up a stable morning routine. I sleep with the drapes open to rise with the sun,” she told Entrepreneur. “I think that’s a healthy thing to do because even if you don’t like to wake up early, your body does adjust.
“I have a yoga mat and a huge bottle of water next to my bed so when I get up, I drink that and then try to stretch and do some form of a morning workout. I do my best to avoid the direct-to-phone dive, because once that starts it’s nearly impossible to escape.
“I spend the first 30 minutes of the morning being cognizant of my family and dog—taking him for a walk, spending time with my fiancé [now husband]—before it goes into madness and work mode.”
Oprah, legend, icon, everything
“8:00 a.m. First thing in the morning, I brush my teeth and take the dogs out. There are five of them and everybody’s ready to get out, but I make them wait while I brush my teeth. After I walk the dogs around the yard, I make my favorite espresso,” the mogul told Harper’s Bazaar.
“I mix caffeinated and decaffeinated espresso with milk and a little hazelnut. As I wait for the brew to froth, I pull out a card from my 365 Gathered Truths box. I read five of them each morning; it’s a beautiful way to start the day. Today I got this great one that said, ‘Wealth is not measured by dollars and cents, but by the love we make, the laughter we enjoy, the meals we share, the dreams we experience and the hopes we create.’”
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money
“Left to my own devices, which means assuming I don’t have to travel, I get up every day at 6:20 a.m. No alarm. That’s just when I wake up every morning, weekends too,” Gadhia told The Guardian. “First thing I do is look at my emails and answer any outstanding. I can’t stand having any not done! Then I look at the BBC news website, then Twitter. If that counts as an early start, I do it because I always like to be on top of work so I can enjoy the non-work stuff, like having breakfast with the family and talking to my daughter on the way to school, rather than being distracted by work. So it sort of helps me have a normal life.”
Nancy Pelosi, member of the House of Representatives
“On a recent Friday, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, showed up for her morning power walk along the Potomac,” Jane Mayer chronicled in The New Yorker. “It was nine o’clock, and she had been up for hours. She had read several newspapers. Her lipstick was perfect, her hair was professionally styled, and she had on an impeccable white running jacket over black jogging pants. “This is like noon for me,” she said. Instead of carrying weights when she walks, Pelosi, who [was then] seventy-one, carries an iPhone—and uses it incessantly.
“During her forty-five-minute walk, she plans her day, touches base with her staff, makes thank-you calls to donors, and keeps up with overnight developments.”
Shonda Rhimes, television producer and writer
“I have breakfast with myself, figure out what I’m going to do for the day… I have to admit, pretty much every morning, I have a tiny little dance party… Lately, it’s with Beyoncé,” Rhimes told Vulture. “So Beyoncé and I are having a little dance party every morning. I’m getting in formation. And that usually puts me in a good mood. And then I leave the house.”
Payal Kadakia, CEO and founder of ClassPass
“As an entrepreneur, the first thing I do is check my email and quickly answer any urgent messages. The next most important thing is my workout—I love going for a 30-minute run in the a.m., which helps me wake up as well as plan out my day,” Kadakia told Refinery29. “If I’m strapped on time, I do a 10-minute core workout in my room, instead. (I always have my yoga mat and weights laid out.)
“I then take a shower with some of my Bollywood music playing while thinking about any big meetings or decisions I have to make. After, I get ready while intermittently checking my emails as well as packing my workout or dancer gear. Before I leave my apartment, I always take my vitamins and grab some fruit. I also can’t start my day without a venti citrus green tea from Starbucks—it’s been a part of my routine for over 10 years!”
Katie Couric, journalist and author
“I’m pretty programmed to wake up at 7 a.m. This morning, I went to the gym with my husband [financier John Molner] for a half hour,” Couric told Harper’s Bazaar. “Normally, I walk around the reservoir, take a spin class at Fly Wheel, stretch, or do yoga and then shower.
“[At 9 a.m.], I had a breakfast with the head of my production company at Sarabeth’s, which kind of doubles as my home office. It’s a block away, so I’m never too late. I’m a big caffeine person—hazelnut with steamed skim milk. My espresso machine changed my life. I also think breakfast is important. (I know, I sound like a Kellogg’s commercial.) For me, that usually means Kashi cereal with fruit or a shake.”
Esther Perel, psychotherapist and author
“I wake up at 7 most of the days. The first thing I do is say good morning to my husband. We listen a bit to the news, snooze for about 20 minutes, and then I get up,” Perel told The Cut. “We sit, we chat, we have breakfast together, and then I go to exercise. I generally exercise with friends. I run with a group of girlfriends, and we swim. We have a weekly yoga class. And we go to dance class, mostly salsa and African. The motivation comes from not making someone wait for me.”