What you do before you sit down at your desk and open that first email can pretty much determine how the rest of your day will turn out. A morning routine can be a thing of art or chaos in the making. Sometimes you can make a great breakfast, put together a snazzy outfit and finish up a project all before you march out the door. Other days it’s a miracle if you manage to find a matching pair of shoes and get them on your feet. But with these tips in your back pocket, we’re betting all your future days are gonna be productive to the max.


1. Wake up super early. You may still be in the college mindset that you can wake up 10 minutes before class. But consider laying off the snooze button. Many high-performing leaders crave extra morning time. A poll of 20 executives found that 90 percent said they wake up before 6am on weekdays. Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi wakes at 4am and is in the office no later than 7am.

2. Exercise. Some of us can’t imagine stretching in the morning, much less running or spinning. For others, exercise is the only thing that will really wake them up. “I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in an interview for O, The Oprah Magazine in 2009. “If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.”

And she isn’t alone. Michelle Gass, Chief Customer Officer at Kohl’s, has woken up each morning at 4:30am to go running for 15 years (the woman isn’t relying on coffee). She believes her morning routine has helped boost her happiness and business success.

3. Talk with family or friends. Obie Mckenzie, managing director of BlackRock, spends 84 minutes every morning chatting with his wife on their morning commute. He says, “It keeps us connected all day.” If you can get some in-person face time with a loved one, then do it! It’s great to have a commute buddy.

4. Master a fast morning routine. Tory Burch, who runs a fashion empire, has a surprisingly low-maintenance morning beauty routine. She told Into The Gloss, “In the morning I usually walk out the door with a wet head, put my hair in a low ponytail and go out for the day — not very exciting. I don’t blow dry my hair, except when I go to a party, just so it’s a little more presentable. I prefer the look of my hair when it dries naturally — not too perfect or too straight.”

Jenna Lyons, creative director and president of J.Crew, says she also has a short beauty routine, but that doesn’t mean she still doesn’t focus on what she is wearing. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I do my makeup in about five minutes and I get dressed in about three minutes. I definitely don’t have a work uniform. The idea of a uniform is like a slow and painful death to me. There is nothing I like more than getting dressed.”

5. Play a competitive game. Before her daily blow-out at 6:45am to perfect that famous coif, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour reportedly starts her day with an exciting 5:45am tennis match, according to The Guardian.

6. Watch the news. Some of us just want to know what is going on in the world before we go out into it. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was up by 5am every weekday, even though she stayed up very late the night before (Thatcher wasn’t a big sleeper) to listen to “Farming Today,” a popular broadcast program on BBC Radio 4.

7. Answer emails. Some people start their morning by getting right to it. Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO, told The Guardian that he gets out of bed immediately when he wakes up at 5 or 5:15 in the morning, either to answer emails or sneak in a workout. “Historically, I would start sending emails when I got up,” he told The Guardian in April. “But not everyone is on my time schedule, so I have tried to wait until 7am. Before I email, I work out, read and use our products.”

8. Walk their dog. Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, walks her dog before 7:30am, even on weekends, to get her day started. “She’ll start walking around the room and then I’ll get up and take her out for a walk. I normally walk her for about an hour in the morning. It’s the only time of day I get to myself.”

9. Meditate. Gwyneth Paltrow gets up at 4:30am to practice her asanas. ”I’m really not a morning person at all,” Paltrow told InStyle. ”It’s just sheer determination. I’m very strict with myself. When I practice six days a week and eat clean food, I feel much better.”

10. Chug coffee (or green tea). Lyons says she is a big fan of coffee: “My favorite thing in the world is coffee ice cream, so I try to get my coffee to taste as close to coffee ice cream as I can.”

Eva Chen, former Lucky editor-in-chief who now helms fashion at Instagram, has said she starts her day with a calming green tea. She also puts together an outfit from the shoes up. “It’s a random thing about my morning routine. I don’t watch TV in the morning because I get sucked into it. I’ll end up watching reruns of The OC on Soapnet.”

How do you power up in the morning to kick off your day? Tweet us @britandco!

This post was previously published on Levo League by Meredith Lepore.

(Photo via Getty)