I’ve always been fascinated by the little, everyday morning habits that are shared by so many successful and creative people. What are the secret rituals and healthy practices that make up their lives and why?

That question formed the springboard for our Wake Up Call series. I’ve loved the chance to take a peek into the morning routines of our favorite stylish women to get the inside scoop on the products and rituals that help them prepare for the day like a boss.

Since we’re all trying to set some good habits at the beginning of this new year, it seemed the perfect time to dig into the archives and see what healthy habits these—and a few of our other favorite ladies—share for a little AM inspiration. And I’d love to hear in the comments what habits make your morning complete!

Feature image by Michelle Nash.

image by kate lesueur

Wake up early.

Most of the successful women we’ve interviewed in our series wake up early in order to allow plenty of time to work out, eat breakfast, care for kids (if they have them), and plan for the day ahead—all without feeling overly rushed. I’ve found that waking up an hour and a half before I have to be somewhere usually means that I’ll be able to check off the important things on my list and stay calm. For my non-early rising friends, don’t panic: this is one “rule” that seems to have many exceptions! Check out the case for setting the alarm clock later in this article: Yes, You Can Sleep In and Still Be Successful.

image by riley reed

Be mindful.

My biggest resolution (almost) every year is to consistently set aside time in the morning for a mindfulness practice. For me, this means that I use the app Headspace for a 10-minute meditation which helps me feel calm and focused, then I spend a few minutes praying and jotting down thoughts in my gratitude journal. This habit is the #1 difference between a morning where I feel centered and one where I feel frazzled.

Arianna Huffington has said that, “When I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day.”

Katie Kime tells us that she starts her day with “a long daily meditation from a favorite author or teacher that I love. It sets my intention for the day and I think it’s a really healthy and helpful habit.” Wendy Koletar’s morning practice also involves meditation: “I do a 20-minute meditation in the living room… The challenge at my house is finding a quiet moment and some privacy, but I make it happen. The goal is simply to be present and aware. I focus on breath to bring me to the present moment.”

image by kate zimmerman turpin

Make the bed.

Successful women from Cameron Diaz to Gretchen Rubin swear by making the bed every single morning, no matter how busy they are. It’s a little task that gives you an instant sense of accomplishment and helps you feel like you can take on whatever the day throws at you. Plus, starting with that one good habit creates a domino effect; the feel-good vibes from tackling it will motivate you not to skip out on other positive tasks.

image by michelle nash

Visualize your perfect day.

Just thinking about the people and situations you’ll encounter during the day ahead—and planning how you want to respond to them—can transform your actions from reactive to proactive. Lately, I’ve been using the time while I’m blow drying my hair (which used to be my most dreaded task) to visualize how I want the day to unfold, and I’m already seeing the powerful results.

image by teal thomsen

Conquer the most important item on your to-do list first.

Often, the morning is when we can think most clearly, making it the perfect time to tackle that one important to-do list item before nothing else can get in the way. Laura Vanderkam, the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, is a major advocate of this. “The quiet hours of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted,” she writes. “What’s more, spending time on it at the beginning of the day ensures that it gets your attention before others—kids, employees, bosses—use it up.”

image by kirsten kilpatrick

Eat an energy-packed breakfast.

Usually, this means a good mix of protein, fat, and healthy carbs. Wendy Koletar typically starts her day with an egg breakfast taco, greek yogurt with granola, or a smoothie with banana, frozen blueberries, kale, almond butter, and almond milk. In fact, lots of the gals we interviewed go the smoothie route since it’s an easy and delicious way to pack loads of nutrients into one glass.

However, if drinking your breakfast isn’t your thing, never fear: Audrey Hepburn always ate two eggs and a slice of whole-wheat toast first thing and never skipped breakfast. For more healthy breakfast ideas, check out all of our early morning meal inspo (mealspo?) here.

image by riley reed

Work out before any excuses can get in the way.

Almost all the gals we’ve interviewed start the day with some kind of sweat session, from Katie Kime to Emma Hemming Willis. Anna Wintour famously starts each day with an hour-long tennis match at 5:45 a.m. Not only does a morning workout get your blood pumping and release mood-boosting endorphins, but conquering it first thing ensures that your daily workout will actually happen. NBC News Now correspondent and new mom, Simone Boyce will try to get in at least 45 minutes, four days a week.

image by belathée

Connect with someone you love.

Whether it’s a breakfast date with your partner or a tickle session with your kids, connecting with someone you love is a beautiful and important reminder of what’s really important. Even if the morning is really busy, try to sit down for a few minutes over breakfast and talk about what’s going on in each others’ lives. Katie James’ morning routine is all about spending quality time with her two babes, and Nadine Abramcyk tells us that although her two kids are her alarm clock, “Seeing their faces makes the early wake-up time worthwhile.”

And don’t forget that the simple act of smiling can actually make us feel way happier. Next time you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, go ahead and laugh at your partner’s cheesy joke. Suddenly the morning won’t seem like such a bummer after all.

image by chelsea francis

Be a super scheduler.

It’s no secret that most successful people live by their calendars to stay organized and make sure that high-priority items are non-negotiable. As you’re visualizing the day ahead, go ahead and put everything that you intend to accomplish on the calendar, prioritizing the things that are most important to you. This way your mind is freed from all those scheduling details to focus on more creative tasks. Don’t forget to schedule in breaks and a little time to yourself, or else those are bound to get neglected once the busyness of the day sets in.

image by teal thomsen

Nail your get-ready-quick routine.

Boss babes are usually too busy to spend an hour primping in front of the mirror, so most of them have a tried-and-true makeup and hair routine that they can knock out at lightning speed. Brooklyn Decker gets this gorgeous in six minutes, while Tory Burch has been quoted as saying, “I usually walk out the door with a wet head, put my hair in a low ponytail and go out for the day… I don’t blow dry my hair, except when I go to a party.”

Discover more inspiring morning routines from women we admire in our Wake Up Call series.

This post was originally published on January 21, 2019, and has since been updated.

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Comments (48)
  1. 1
    Vanessa @ Living in Steil January 3, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Starting my day without my smartphone and choosing to meditate or set an intention for the day, sounds ideal. I’m going to work on that in 2017!


  2. 2
    Rachael January 3, 2017 at 6:42 am

    LOVE this! I’m definitely going to try and do some of these things!

    Rachael xx.

  3. 3
    npharney January 3, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I’m really trying to get up early enough to work out and meditate on a morning, but it’s such a struggle I love my bed so much

    – Natalie

  4. 4
    oliviaschueller January 3, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Love this post! It’s so adorable, I love the photographs too!! NEW POST- http://www.oliviaschueller.com

  5. 5
    Joy January 3, 2017 at 9:44 am

    The list is now in my 2017 intentions list. Great way to start any day. Thank you for this article.

  6. 6
    Little Miss Katy (@MissKatyEnglish) January 3, 2017 at 10:45 am

    This is actually so so helpful! I’m already a morning bird but I need to start planning my schedule better and visualising my tasks I think. Thanks for the tips!

    Little Miss Katy

  7. 7
    Daeyz January 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    These are all great tips, I will be taking note and start implementing some!


  8. 8
    Graciella Colmenares (@dizzyspangle) January 3, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Gosh it was so nice reading this. With how hectic life can be, it’s always nice to find ways to have a healthy start to your day mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Thanks for the awesome post!

  9. 9
    Kelly January 4, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Nothing about having a good cup of coffee? Amazing tips but I need a cup of coffee to start the day right! Happy 2017!

  10. 10
    Paulina Biernacka January 4, 2017 at 4:58 am

    I love the style of your posts and I found your tricks really amazing – I’ll try to use them even from today! 🙂

  11. 11
    Naomi January 4, 2017 at 6:32 am

    All these tips apply to my daily schedule. I feel accomplished at the end of the day.

  12. 12
    Dana Andersen January 4, 2017 at 6:56 am

    In 2016 i was constantly trying to organise (aka create) my morning routine and still haven’t managed it! 2017 might be my morning year with these tips though!


  13. 13
    Pallavi (@wildfirecharm) January 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

    What a wonderful post. I really to incorporate more of these into my lifestyle. x


  14. 14
    Sakeenah Aleem January 5, 2017 at 1:52 am

    I love reading articles on this topic. I have probably Youtube’ed all the success habits I could possibly find. I recently took to plugging in by phone away from my bed. I also began visualizing my day for 15 minutes before getting up. It keeps me centered throughout my day. And I find that setting an intention keeps me grounded to that mission. I really enjoyed this article. Thank you for sharing!

  15. 15
    Miranda Pender January 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    If you did all these things, the morning would be over before you had the opportunity to do any actual work.

  16. 16
    shauna January 7, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    The Best Post on becoming a successful Boss of your life! Thank you I love this post!

  17. 17
    Kayleigh Cooper January 8, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I always try and start the day with meditation and a bit of yoga, I find that it clears my head so much and really gets me focused for the day! One thing I need to work on is making my bed in the morning, I always find myself creeping back into bed after breakfast, oops!

  18. 18
    Andrea Ingrid January 8, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Meditation is my favorite part of the morning. Taking 5 to 10 minutes to connect with your mind, body and soul it makes my whole day better. Wonderful post! xx

  19. 19
    Leslie Ann Clark January 8, 2017 at 7:50 am

    I love getting up early….3:50 am! … but it also means going to bed early.

  20. 20
    Kristin January 8, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Really enjoyed this article. Wonderful tips! Check my benefits for a morning workout 🙂

  21. 21
    Cookie Crumbs January 8, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    These are great. I do some of them but I’m definitely not taking full advantage of my early rising. I can’t wait to implement the tips that I’m not already doing and optimizing my early morning. Thanks for sharing!

  22. 22
    Jocelyne January 8, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I’m working on visualizing my day more often while I do my make up hehehe It does help and I’m seeing results. 🙂

  23. 23
    Natalie Redman January 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Great tips! Waking up early is still a difficult one for me!

  24. 24
    lilian Tahmasian January 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

    this is one of my favourite posts..ever.

  25. 25
    katrina January 10, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I love the photographs too!! NEW POST-Love this post! It’s so adorable

  26. 26
    Roxy January 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Great tips! Definitely feeling motivated for 2017!

  27. 27
    Xa Dailey January 11, 2017 at 2:44 am

    I definitely needed that! Thanks

  28. 28
    Vera January 19, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    How can I share this post with my friends and family?

  29. 29
    Josephine Emeli January 24, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    I start my day with prayer and a plan.

  30. 30
    Debie February 3, 2017 at 3:09 am

    I say “Thank you Universe!” for a new day. I recall a happy memory and then find joy in the details of my morning preparation from washing my face, using my favorite bowl and cup during breakfast to packing up for the day.

  31. 31
    Ellen February 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I am already an early riser but I usually lay in bed and plan my day. I need to stop that, I need to just get up and start my day!

  32. 32
    Magna St. Hilaire February 18, 2017 at 7:01 am

    This is great! My challenge is waking up early (consistently) because my sleep is usually interrupted at least two times during the night. Waking up early, mindfulness/meditation and visualizing my day are the two things I am definitely going to fight for. Thanks for this article.

  33. 33
    patricia ellis June 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    please remember that quite a few of us ladies live alone. what can you do to put a smile on your own face first thing in the morning when you live alone?

    • Arwen August 17, 2021 at 4:43 am

      We should try to smile at the mirror ?

  34. 34
    Marie A. Diaz-Cervo June 29, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I like this article because I am on the right path, I have so much energy in the morning and I like to write to empty my mind. I am very creative and I make sure I stay positive since I work with special needs children. It is not fair for my students if I am not mindful to help them to be the best they can be. I like these websites, you might them also. http://www.angiediazcervo.com http://www.fiercelybeautifulblog.com http://a.co/9Xvojqt

  35. 35
    Candace July 17, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Starting my day without looking at my smartphone first! Whoa, that sounds nice!! I’m going to try that for at least 30 days!

  36. 36
    haliey February 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Where can you find the pajama pants? Do you know where they are from? I’m in love with them 🙂

  37. 37
    haliey February 16, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Floral ones <3

  38. 38
    Kim April 16, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    It takes me at least 20 minutes on my feet before my brain functions. And I better have coffee that first 20 minutes. I have a 1 hour drive to work one way and the dogs take up at least 15 minutes of time feeding and walking them–probably more like 30 minutes cause you know one of them is going to take his time). Add shower, makeup, hair and that’s another 30 minutes. So, that’s 3 hours I need before I walk out the door for work….need another 10 minutes if I have to stop and get gas . Not sure I’m willing or able to add another 20 minutes for meditation (sorry, but my reality is this would put me right back to sleep) and 20 minutes of exercising. If I did, then i need FOUR HOURS of time before I leave for work. Oh. hell. no. That’s REAL and that doesn’t work.

    We need to focus more on higher pay for women (so we can pay a dog-walker and pre-cooked meals and housekeeper) so we have more time to 1) go to bed earlier since you got meals delivered and the housekeeper will do the dishes in the morning and 2) sleep a minute longer in the morning cause you don’t have to fuss with the dogs. Now THAT works. 🙂