I tried five morning habits from successful people and here's what worked
I didn’t even have to join the 5 AM club
I’m constantly exhausted, my days blend into one, my productivity is at an all-time low even though I seem to be working all the time, and I barely have the energy to socialise. I don’t need an alarm to be woken up since my to-do list automatically scares me awake at 6 AM — but it takes a full three hours for my body to catch up with my wired brain and get functioning. If this sounds like a familiar morning routine (and life), like me, you’re likely another working cog in the machine of life.
Turns out, there is a way to improve all of the above — by adopting a morning routine. While the phrase throws up somewhat idyllic montages of people sipping a beverage languorously while reading the paper, stretching with suryanamaskars, working at a laptop, or even cooking and efficiently packing dabbas if you’re responsible for feeding those at home, as a young adult, my own morning routine looks nothing like any of this.
Harried parents, working professionals and most humans will agree that a morning routine is the luxury of retirees and well, celebrities, because really who has the time? But all signs point towards making the time. In an article in NM.org, Cheryl Beutell, APRN, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Northwestern Medicine explains, “Having a routine is how you build habits,” explains Cheryl. “When we practice good habits, that can help us maintain positive relationships, good hygiene and our best health.” All of which I could desperately use.
Considering my own morning routine consists of waking up, allowing my brain to buffer, inhaling coffee and running to work, it was time to create a new one. While we already stole 10 habits from the world’s most successful people to make our lives better, this time I decided to put into practice the morning routines of successful people. From Deepika Padukone to Oprah Winfrey, I tried each of their morning routines for 10 days and here’s what I learnt from them — and yes, they’re totally doable.
What I learnt from adopting celebrity morning routines
No doom-scrolling from Deepika Padukone
The slope from hitting the snooze button to doom-scrolling through Instagram reels is a slippery one — one that I regularly trudge up. Scrolling the moment you wake up can trigger a stress response by shocking the nervous system instead of letting the brain go through the various stages of waking up. In her Morning Chai interview, actor Deepika Padukone told us she avoids checking her phone first thing in the morning.
To ignore the temptation of Instagram, I dug out an old alarm clock instead of setting an alarm on the phone. It was ear-shatteringly loud and I instinctively reached out for my phone. But I distracted myself with making my bed and getting on with the day. Three days in, I began feeling refreshed and more relaxed on rising. My body wasn’t on edge and I was able to get a lot more tasks done through the day. Padukone made a great point (Yes, I made a badminton reference).
Morning routine meter: 9/10
Clocking 8 hours of sleep like Jeff Bezos
When it comes to a plan, you need to prepare to be able to execute it efficiently. The Amazon founder recommends a good (long) night’s sleep as the foundation to a successful morning routine. An eight-hour sleep routine is better for productivity and decision-making he said in an interview with Thrive Global.
I had to try it out. But the moment I got into bed, I ended up scrolling and staying up late trying to squeeze in all the post-work free time I could. I had to wake up early the next day so I could only manage six to seven hours of sleep. I consistently tried to do this for a week but I either had to stay up late to finish pending work, meet friends or help my family with something.
I couldn’t clock in more than seven hours. It may have been easy for Bezos, but for someone in their 20s trying to balance a social life and work, some days you’ll get eight hours, others it’ll be 12 and on some, four. If you can’t always manage the hours, you can try to improve your quality of sleep — by turning your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.
Morning routine meter: 5/10
Sweating it out like PV Sindhu
I dislike going to the gym, I’m not a sporty person and getting my body and soul to agree to exercising is more of a punishment than fun. But I had to get out of my comfort zone.
To kick the lazies out of my body, get the blood pumping and find a hatke way to exercise, I took inspiration from badminton star PV Sindhu. In an interview with Moneycontrol, she said that she starts her day at 7 AM with a warm-up and then plays badminton till lunch. I’m not athletic, but I do love badminton. So I signed up for a morning class and played for 40 minutes every day.
I felt refreshed but my arms were sore and my backbone was ready to give up. I love badminton but not this much. While the morning endorphin kick didn’t work for me, working out is one of the best ways to start a day — an article in CNET.com states that the morning exercise habit can shift your circadian rhythm so that your body is naturally more alert in the morning and more tired in the evening, so you fall asleep earlier and can exercise in the morning again (meaning for Bezos’ tip to work more effectively, team it up with Sindhu’s!)
From experience, I would recommend picking something you really enjoy to make it last, whether it’s Zumba, a racquet sport or even just a slow trudge in your neighbourhood garden.
Morning routine meter: 4/10
Moving meditation à la Sushmita Sen
Meditation has been recommended to me more times than I can count. It can create more balance, encourage positive thoughts and give a sense of calm leading to better emotional well-being. It’s a healthy habit but just when I have to quiet my anxious brain, the thoughts come rushing in like Shatabdi express.
I attempted actor Sushmita Sen’s moving meditation, a trick she revealed to us during her Morning Chai interview. All I had to do was play soothing music while engaging in light movement. Right before fixing myself a cup of coffee, I walked at a leisurely pace in my room for 10 minutes listening to Taylor Swift’s All Too Well, and that’s it.
For the next couple of days, I created a 10-minute mellow playlist as I walked, gazing at the sun outside my window. It made me feel a lot more centred than sitting still in padmasan. A work deadline that would’ve otherwise overwhelmed me, breezed past. For those of you whose brain hears overdrive when you say quiet, moving meditation might be the solution. Plus it’s free, you can do it at home and it barely takes any time or effort. Win, Win!
Morning routine meter: 9/10
Embracing nature like Oprah Winfrey
Wind in the hair, the smell of freshly cut grass and morning dew. It’s the wellness trio, all-natural, no additives. Spending time in nature has been linked to a host of benefits, both physical and psychological. From lowering stress levels to enhancing empathy and feeling of happiness, the phrase that ‘nature nurtures’ is true.
Oprah believes in it too. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she said her perfect day is the one where she gets to wake up surrounded by nature at home. She starts her day by walking her dogs in the yard before working out and meditating.
Living in a concrete jungle and controlled by technology, I barely even get the time to appreciate the plants in my house. But I’ll try anything Oprah recommends. I live near the sea so I decided to walk on the pedestrian path along the shore to the sound of the waves and view of the rising sun. It worked wonders. The first two days I was groggy but on Day three, I noticed a change. I was breathing deeper, my mind felt open and I experienced a burst of creativity.
De-stress, disconnect, feel fresh or revive your creativity, no matter the reason, spending time in nature will help. You could go to a park, sit on your balcony or visit a nearby waterbody — just being in nature will energise you. Leave your phone at home!
Morning routine meter: 9/10