As master multitaskers, women have the incredible ability to manage a household, fit in a yoga class, answer a dozen emails, tend to children if they have them, and still manage to be a supportive friend and partner. As the largest growing sector of entrepreneurs, women are doing all of this and starting their own companies — many of which are revolutionizing industries and making history. With schedules that grow fuller by the day, these female founders have developed smart strategies for streamlining their morning routines. Even if they were not early birds, to begin with, the most lucrative and productive CEOs — including Sheryl Sandberg — wake in the wee hours of the morning to make room for everything, and to get a head start. If you are in need of inspiration and effective tips that make the start to your day less chaotic, take a page out of these boss ladies’ manuals.
'Don’t check your phone for 45 minutes in the morning'
Think about what happened once your alarm sounded today. Did you hit snooze so many times you had to rush to make it to your 9 a.m. meeting? Or skip breakfast because you had zero time to prepare? It might seem counterintuitive to efficiency, but the CEO of Hello Tunnel, Evie Phillips, takes 45 minutes each morning to invest in ‘me’ time. This is a conscious effort on her part to ensure she maintains some sort of work/life balance, which definitely is not easy when you are at the helm of a budding company. However, when she gives herself permission to focus on what fulfills her soul, refuels her passion and calms her nerves, she is better prepared — and energized. “Since I am constantly glued to a screen of some sort, being diligent about not jumping to Flipboard, my email or Instagram first thing in the morning has decreased my stress levels, as I’ve replaced it with meditation or journaling,” she says.
In return, she says this simple hack has trickled down into setting more healthy boundaries in other areas of her work and personal life. “It’s not easy, but it’s been a game-changer for me,” she adds.
'Prep the night before'
Erin Papworth, CEO of Nav.it, was finding herself frazzled each morning in a manic rush to complete every last task. So a year ago she made a change and now dedicates time in the evening to prep. In addition to less stress before the rooster crows, the most noticeable improvement has been in her relationship with her son. Because she prepares his snack and lunch the night before, she only has to focus on whipping up breakfast and spending 30 minutes with him. “Since I’ve been deep into my professional world for two years, it’s a conscious effort to be in the moment with him and not thinking about the next three things coming my way that day,” she says. “Since we have been doing this, it has allowed me to start the day lighter and more energized.”
Even if you are not a parent, a more relaxed start to your day has been proven to ease tension and tame stress levels. When you do not have to gather scattered items like your laptop, lunch, gym clothes and other daily essentials, you have that extra minute that can be spent in meditation or meeting a friend for coffee.
'Multitask during your routine'
Even if you are not fanatical about your daily makeup application or hairstyle, everyone has a routine before they head out the door. Instead of rushing through her tasks, CEO and founder of the Keepster App, Jennifer Simchowitz, uses the opportunity to check off other daily agenda items. She says she uses the time to not only take care of her body but her mind, too. How does she pull it off? While brushing her teeth, she does quad stretches on each side, which she notes to improve her overall flexibility. Then, as she continues through make-up, getting dressed, straightening the bed and so on, she listens to podcasts. This helps to evoke ideas and serve as her way to remain updated on current events. A handful of her favorites include the New York Times’s The Daily, How I Built This with Guy Raz and Slate’s Culture Gabfest. “By the time I walk out the door I’m up to date with the biggest news stories and inspired by great minds which always helps me reach higher,” she says. “And best of all, I feel I’ve given myself a shot of quality ‘me time’ before the day runs away with me.”
'Use sleep stats to guide your day'
Once you enter the working world, you quickly understand just how essential sleep is to performance. After all, when you reap eight hours of heavy, warm shut-eye, you are feeling on top of your game, while four hours after a night of tossing and turning has you running on empty. In a way to exercise her strategic mindset in her personal life, CEO and founder of Unblocked Future, Alison McCauley, turns to a sophisticated sleep tracker to map her day. Using a dozen or so metrics, Oura Ring Sleep Tracker determines how rested she is once she opens her eyes. “Every morning I look at my score and adjust based on what I learn. If my score is low, I reschedule work that takes deep concentration and instead focus on clearing out my light administration work that I typically avoid,” she says. This makes a huge difference in how well she manages her deliverables since she does not push herself to complete to-do list items that she may not be in the best mindset to execute.
'Encourage independence in your children/colleagues'
Part of being an empathetic and successful manager is the fine art of delegation. This extends beyond the workplace though, if you ask the president and CEO of CertiStar, Shandee Chernow. Since her children are not exactly morning people, getting them ready for school used to be a stress point for her. To help mitigate the arguments, she instituted two rules that have changed everyone’s morning: They have to lay out their clothes the night before, and they have to tell her what they want for breakfast before they have screen time or do anything else. “Mornings are much, much easier now that we don’t run out of time each day,” she says.
You might have employees who need more guidance and motivation than you would prefer. You can apply this same thought process by creating a daily morning check-in where they complete the tasks that you need immediately before turning to anything else. This could be combing headlines for news, creating a report or even setting up a meeting room. Whatever it is, take the load off your back and lean into assistance.