If celebrity lifestyles and Forbes.com are to be believed, anyone who’s ever been successful has a morning routine, and if you want to be successful then you need one too. Google ‘famous morning routines’ and there’s no end of examples. Barack Obama avoids coffee. Marilyn Monroe washed a multivitamin down with two raw eggs whisked into milk. Famous fictional serial killer Patrick Bateman does 1000 crunches before lathering himself in a series of lotions which, as well as giving him the complexion to go on a psychotic killing spree, also serves as a cinematic excuse for lots of close ups of Christian Bale naked in the shower.
A Morning Routine
Modern life is full of endless recommendations, some more useful than others. In this series, we try everything from age-old traditions to newfangled fads, all to determine: is it worth it? Here, Club writer Georgie attempts a Morning Routine, beloved habit of CEOs, GOOP devotees and Mark Wahlberg.
If there’s anything to learn from Patrick Bateman, it’s that having a morning routine does not make you an inherently good person. It makes you a person with a remarkable aptitude for getting up early and spending lots of money on potions and facial ice packs. Which is one of the issues with this fixation on morning routines: it can easily feel like a byproduct of capitalism’s obsession with self-optimisation. We’re failing at life if we haven’t buffed every minute into a useful nugget of productivity.
I’ve often rejected the concept of a ‘morning routine’ for these reasons, in the same way I resent instagram ads promising to change my life with a 30 Day Barre Core programme. I’m not lazy! I’m just rejecting the societal pressures that base our worth on whether we’ve made it to the gym twice a day! On the other hand, there is also a lot of scientific evidence proving exercise is, unfortunately, quite good for us. Likewise: there is probably a healthier way to start the day than my current wake up call.
My current wake up call: snoozing between 3-5 times, scrolling through Instagram for 10 minutes and feeling awful about myself, scrolling through Twitter for 10 minutes and feeling awful about the world. Pee, shower, dress, coffee, scroll more. Spend 15 minutes looking for keys/cards/sunglasses and run out the house late.
Intent on regaining a slightly more robust sense of self-esteem and a vaguely more optimistic perspective on life, I’ve decided to try a morning routine. A moderate, achievable one, as opposed to Mark Wahlberg’s habit of getting up at 2.30am to play golf, workout and stand in a chamber of dry air that reaches -150° Celsius.
I ask around the office for inspiration. Design queens Adrian and Youhan have both streamlined their morning routine to the point where they know precisely when they will shit (post coffee, pre shower). Yu Mei founder Jessie says this isn’t a component in her own routine, but her boyfriend later texts me to confirm that she, too, occasionally shits in the AM. Is regular shitting the secret to a productive day? Unfortunately that is an element I have no control over, so I move on to more manageable components.
I’ve dabbled in meditation since I was a fairly miserable 18 year old, when mum gave me a book on it as a not so subtle hint to chill out. My version involves attempting to sit very still while I focus on breathing, observing my thoughts without judging them. Admittedly, this often descends into daydreams about a really smart comeback I should’ve said in an argument last week, but it’s good practice to notice this and come back to your breath. When I first started, it was a) really hard, and b) confusing as to why daydreaming about week old arguments would help me calm down. But over time, I realised that on the days I did try to meditate I was less stressed, and able to focus longer. I’ve fallen out of practice recently, but in the interest of unleashing my inner Gwenyth Paltrow, I am committing to 15 minutes of morning meditation.
If I’m adding something, I need to take something away. This thing needs to be social media. I do not need to see Kendall Jenner lounging in a sunhat the size of a serving platter at 7am. Besides that, I’m keeping it simple. Clean, coffee, clothes. Walk to work playing something light and uplifting, like Christina Aguilera’s Hurt.
Monday, Day One. I wake up and hit snooze four times. I’ve already failed my routine, but persevere nonetheless. I pretend to meditate for 15 minutes but actually just nap some more, then get out of bed, inhale a coffee, feed the puppy and walk to work. I don’t feel significantly different to normal. Day two is similar, except that I only hit snooze three times (progress), and the dog vomits all its food back up and I have to take it to the vet. I feel much more stressed than usual. Not because of the routine, but because I am an overbearing first time mother whose puppy may or may not need surgery.
On Wednesday, however, things shift a little. I hit snooze once. I manage to slow my thoughts down during meditation and don’t check my phone. The pup doesn’t need surgery, and I walk to work blasting Prince feeling like the fun aunt in an eighties rom-com.
On Thursday I have pilates at 8am so absolutely screw any routine, doing exercise at that time is saintly enough. On Friday, I manage to stick to my schedule again, and am miraculously still writing this piece at 5pm, when normally I would’ve logged off in favour of three Chardonnays.
Has a morning routine changed my life? No. Do I feel like my life has mildly improved since I started? Yes. Whether it’s the routine, the meditation or the lack of morning social media, it’s hard to say. But something about exercising a little control first thing has leaked its way into my days, imbuing them with a fraction more clarity and concentration. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit, so I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s something I hope to stick with.
Can’t wait for my extensive feature on Forbes 30 Under Thirty.