By Kristin Limoges and Amber Katz

Published on July 18, 2018

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Illustration by PHUONG NGUYEN

What early risers accomplish before most of us have had a cup of coffee is nothing short of inspirational. The pre-business hours of no email, a quiet house, and a full night’s sleep under your belt without any stresses or draining meetings of the day to wear you down are ideal for strategizing, organizing, and accomplishing.

So we tapped more than a dozen successful women (and two men) whose professional prowess spans a range of industries. Here, their routines and tips, all completed by the ripe hour of 7 am.

Get Moving

For Aussie twin sisters Kim Devin and Zoe Kelly, founders of Dr. Roebuck’s, the day begins with wellness. From their 6 am green juice with cucumber, lemon, turmeric, chia, and flax seeds, to their yoga or HIIT workout class (either AGOGA in Bondi or F45 in Los Angeles), the wellness skincare founders practice what they promote: “This is the best way to get our mind and body going first thing.” And that promotion also involves their healing face masks to calm the skin post-workout, with either their Tama Healing Mask and our Icebergs Hydrating Mask.

Early Emails

Lars Frederiksen, founder of high-performance Swedish skincare line Verso, needs no alarm. He’s an early riser all on his own, waking up around 5:30 am every day, which allows for him to get ahead on overseas emails, and then read morning papers. Then, in true Swedish fashion, he hops on his bike and rides to the office, arriving around 8 am after he gets his kids ready for school.

“Once in the office, I follow-up on the emails sent in the early morning to other time zones,” he says. When traveling, he’ll add in a “morning workout or a run after responding to emails, before taking the first meetings.”

Rachel Winard, founder of Soapwalla, also espouses the benefits of an early morning email ritual, too. “I love this quiet time to work without interruption, and I think I do some of my best work when I’m still a little sleepy and not overthinking things yet. It’s also a great feeling to start the day knowing that I’ve completed one of my biggest tasks.” (We’re almost convinced to join this practice, too!)

Savor the Morning

It might seem counterproductive to take it easy in the morning, but Dr. Loretta, Miami-based cosmetic dermatologist and co-founder of Dr. Loretta skincare, swears by peace and quiet to start the day. She typically wakes around 6:30 am to “savor” a cup of dark roast.

“It’s precious not to rush anything, especially that morning coffee!” This intentional mindset transfers to watering her garden, as well as purposefully and thoughtfully doing her morning skincare routine.

Wake and Meditate

For Charlotte Devereux, Product Development Director at Girl Undiscovered, 6 am is the perfect time to start her daily 10-minute kundalini yoga routine. “It’s slow meditation-based movement centered on compassion and consciousness of the feminine energy. I find it the perfect way to wind into the day,” she says. 

The rest of her morning is equally conscious and calm, from her gentle morning face cleanse (she uses Under The Waterfall Cleansing Water) to her coconut milk coffee and toast with avocado and chili flakes, all of which she takes time to savor. “It’s the small things and moments that make my life I love.”

Don’t Forget About Your Gut

For Whitney Tingle, co-founder of Sakara Life, her gut wellness is her skin and overall wellness. “To keep my skin clear (and my digestive system regulated), I take the Sakara Probiotic Blend religiously every morning when I wake up.” The blend has probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to fight off any bloat. “When I feel good walking out the door, I know I’m setting myself up for having a good day.”

Probiotics are the most important thing Domino wellness editor Kristin Limoges does every morning, too. “As soon as I wake up, I check my phone, which I try to sleep at least 10 feet away from every night, then make my bed, and then go take my Prebiotic + Probiotic ($65) from The Nue Co.” She’s been using the brand’s pre/pro since it came out last year, and she now swears it dramatically increases her daily wellbeing.

Eat Protein

For plastic surgeon Dr. Melissa Doft, breakfast is vital, because during operating days, she can be in the OR as early as 7:30 am. “I start with a large breakfast of fruit and eggs. I am not always able to stop for lunch so it is critical to have a healthy breakfast.”

Interior designer Corey Jenkens’s first task in the morning also involves protein, but in shake form. Blending up a protein shake of oatmeal, water, and chocolate whey protein comes first, and then he hits the gym. “Weight-lifting early in the day is refreshing and leaves me in a good emotional place for the balance of the day,” he says.

Take a Walk

Christine Chang, co-founder/co-CEO of Glow Recipe, indulges in a walk through Central Park after a cup of warm water with lemon. If she can’t fit in as much workout time as she would like during the week, she’ll allow herself the luxury to be able to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the park without being strapped for time on the weekends.

Pick Your Favorite (Instructors)

“I’ve found that finding your favorite workout instructors and what classes they teach in the mornings makes it a billion times easier to get up early and never ignore the alarm,” says Kristin Breen, Vice President of Media Relations at Alison Brod Marketing + Communications.

She also uses the pre-dawn hours to go through emails from the night before, read The Post headlines and Page Six and mentally get prepared for the day without the interruptions that happen during business hours. “Making my bed is a must,” she explains. “It somehow changes my mentality all day and gives me a sense of having it together.”

Get Productive

Author Felicia Sullivan has found that waking early helps her set an intention for her day, especially since she has to balance a full-time job with novel writing. She devotes the first two hours she’s awake to anything that will move a project forward.

“This time doesn’t necessarily need to be about the physical act of writing,” she explains. On the days when she’s blocked, she researches, organizes, brainstorms, reads, or edits: “All essential tasks that are needed to complete a project,” she says. “At the end of the two hours, I feel productive regardless if I’ve written a single word.”

Cycle Away

The  first order of business for Sarah Lee, co-founder and CEO of Glow Recipe, in the early morning is to drink a bottle of water (for good skin, of course) and hit the gym with her husband. “We’re both into Peloton these days, and the studio is located in Chelsea, which is a nice jog in the morning from our midtown apartment,” she says. Starting the day with a positive and vibrant energy helps, and they love the fun, competitive classes.

Watch TV (No, Really)

Kaitie Coghlan, director of customer success at Liveramp, sets her alarm about 90 minutes before she has to wake up in the morning, giving her time to strategize her day. A patron of the arts, her tip is to indulge in a little “Murder She Wrote” TV binge before work, as opposed to at night, when most people tend to unwind with a show. During this 90 minutes, she typically takes a little snooze for about half an hour. The last 30 minutes before she has to leave, she enjoys a cup of pre-programmed Nespresso coffee and goes through her calendar for the day.

Plan Ahead

“Everyone in my house knows not to talk to me until I have my first sip of coffee,” says nutritionist Lara Metz who is up by 6:30 am. She drinks hers with Malk Milk, homemade cashew milk, or organic whole milk, depending on her mood.

Then, she’s ready to face the day. Her hack for getting her children—ages 6 and 8—to eat breakfast is offering two menu items from which they can choose. For example, one morning’s menu is a fried egg (she uses coconut oil) on a gluten-free Le Pain De Fleur Quinoa cracker with mashed avocado or a thin slice of muenster cheese and fruit or an oatmeal bar made from oats, berries, banana, chia seeds, and honey. They can assemble it themselves.

After that, she feeds herself, and then works out either with her trainer, on the tennis court, spinning, or walking the reservoir with a friend. After showering, she’s off to work and always begins the day with a large jasmine or lemongrass green tea.

Write It Down

Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter, spends the first couple of hours of the day reading poetry and writing in a notebook. “During the week, it’s mostly a 30-minute affair; it’s not realistic for me to dwell in that creative space when emails start coming in about projects and deadlines and meetings,” she explains. She likes to spend weekend mornings doing the same with a never-ending pot of coffee and multiple pieces of toast.

This story was originally published February 25, 2017. It has been updated with new information.

Read more wellness tips:

Habits You Should Copy From Amazing Sleepers
We Tried 8 Tricks for Better Sleep
How to Sleep Better: Must-Try Tips from Acupuncturists