The Morning Routines of 8 Women Leaders

We thrive from the consistency and efficiency of routines; they reduce our deliberation and in turn, our stress. So it is no wonder that these 12 extraordinary women adhere to strict ones.

Each of these women is at the top of her industry. On average she wakes up at 6:03 am, she prioritizes breakfast, and dedicates much of the morning to getting her kids up and out. Two of the women here are childless so their wake up times are significantly later. And then there are the empty nesters who tend to wake early as a remnant of the kid years.

While each of their approaches differs, these successful women all view their daily routines in small increments to keep them on track and thriving. Whether it’s the designer, the doctor, or the CFO, their morning rituals are a vital ingredient in their secret sauce.



1. Stacey Bendet, The Designer

4:45 –  Wake up and have a bowl of quinoa cereal. I do an hour or so of 3rd or 4th series ashtanga yoga.

6:00 –  My little ladies wake up and I make their breakfast—green milk (almond milk with coconut water, banana and steamed baby spinach) and either whole wheat French toast or pancakes. I usually run downstairs to get dressed while they eat and then I get them dressed and do their hair.

8:00 –  We leave the house and I drop them off at school on my way to work.

8:45  –  I’m at the office. I spend the first hour by myself working on design ideas for the day.

Stacey Bendet is the CEO and Creative Director of Alice and Olivia.


2. Leslie Hale, The CFO

6:30  – Wake up and express in prayer how thankful I am to have woken up that day because someone went to sleep that night and didn’t wake up.

6:35  – Mentally walk through my priorities for the day. (family priorities, then work)

6:45  –  Head down to the home gym for a workout and watch Squawk Box.

7:15  –  Wake the kids and give/get lots of kisses and talk to them about what they are going to do that day.

7:30  –  Get dressed while continuing to watch Squawk Box.

8:15  –  Head to the office and listen to local news on the radio.

8:30  –  Skim the newspaper (WSJ).

8:45  –  Send at least two networking notes, a follow up note or a new connection note.

9:00  –  Write down the priorities for the day. I have to get all the mental notes that have been piling up in my mind since I woke up on paper before I forget.

9:30 –  Start working on that list.

Leslie Hale is the CFO and Executive Vice President of RLJ Lodging Trust


3. Nell Scovell, TV Writer

6:43  –  Alarm goes off. No snooze. Pull on John Eshaya sweatpants and clogs.

6:50  – Make coffee (fair trade); microwave Zen Bakery muffin (vegan) First breakfast.

6:55-7:15  – Check email, Facebook, TalkingPointsMemo, Jezebel while consuming coffee and muffin.

7:15  –  Computer closed.

7:15-7:45    Make breakfast for family. When producing or directing, I rarely made it home in time to cook dinner so I shifted the focus to breakfast. I make buttermilk pancakes, eggs in a frame, and for over a decade, we have Crepes Thursday. I make the batter the night before (so the flour absorbs the liquid) and then customize for each family member with fresh-toasted pecans, nutella, marshmallows, and bananas.

7:45  –  Kids are out the door with husband. Clean dishes and pans.

7:50  – Back on computer for a little more email and news consumption.

8:15- 9:15  – Lifecycle workout (four days a week—other three days are yoga in the afternoon.) I try to only watch TV while exercising and use the hour to catch up on my favorites: Last Week Tonight, The Daily Show, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Orange is the New Black, Broad City and Nashville.

9:15-9:30  – Shower, dress, skip the blow dry (too time consuming and hair dries quickly in Southern California.)

9:30  –  Write, write, write. I’m not on staff at a TV show right now so my work is freelance. My husband calls me an “itinerant worker” because I like to move around, writing in various cafes. Second breakfast. Yes, I’m a Hobbit.

Nell Scovell is a TV, magazine and film writer. She is currently working on the film adaptation of Lean In.


4. Sally Susman, The Pharma Executive

5:44  – My internal clock, without fail, always wakes me 60 seconds before iPhone alarm goes off.

6:00  – Check emails and on-line news feeds for any breaking news/issues.

6:10  –  Shower and dress.

6:20  – Drink a quick cup of coffee in my kitchen and spend a few minutes writing…a snippet of a dream, a bit of fiction or a journal entry.

6:45  – Peruse hard copy of newspapers (WSJ, NYT, FT, NY Post)

7:00  – Leave for office – brisk walk for exercise in good weather and take taxi in bad weather.

7:15  – Grab more coffee at the shop beside the office… oatmeal if I feel virtuous and egg burrito if feeling otherwise

7:20  – Arrive at my desk…call head of media

7:30  – Pull out a legal pad and create a list of the things I want to accomplish that day.

7:45  – Dig into the mountain of email.

8:00  –  Begin the day’s meetings with any number of external stakeholders, Corporate Affairs team members or Pfizer colleagues.

Sally Susman is Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs for Pfizer


5. Shama Hyder, The Social Media Guru

Since I travel internationally for speaking engagements, every day looks a little different. However, when I am in Dallas, this is what my schedule looks like.

7:30  – Wake up. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a morning person. I don’t wake up at 5 am. However, I do focus on making my waking hours productive. I check email and respond to any immediate issues which need addressing.

8:30  – Breakfast. I never skip breakfast because chances are with client meetings and shooting in the studio, I often end up skipping lunch.

9:00  – Team meeting with my employees where we touch base and brainstorm client strategies. The digital ecosystem moves so fast that every morning our first question is always, “What changed while we were sleeping and how can we best utilize it for our clients?

Shama Hyder is the CEO of The Marketing Zen Group


6. Noel Bailey Merz, The Doctor

5:40  – Out of bed, a hold-over from driving kids to 6am workouts and never changed the habit.

5:45  – Exercise and shower

6:30  – Breakfast with husband

7:15  – Drive to medical center, 30-45 minutes depending on traffic. Frequent conference call with hands-free in the car. Otherwise listen to NPR (Three stations in the LA area so I can avoid fundraising drives as an annual subscriber.)

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA is the Director, Preventive Cardiac Center, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.


7. Keri Glassman, The Nutritionist

5:45-6:00 – Alarm goes off. I am usually very fast to get up and out. Go to kitchen and pour myself large glass of water and add a lemon wedge. Take my supplements. Turn coffee pot on – on a good morning I already put the coffee in the night before.

Go to the computer and usually edit one or two items. I do my best thinking in the morning so I save these for the early morning. Then I move on to the kids scheduling. Did I respond to so and so’s mom that yes Maizy could play that day, did I make sure to tell the soccer coach that Rex had a dentist appointment?

6:45  – I pour my coffee and make breakfast and then sit by myself in my living room. Sometimes with the Post or WSJ, sometimes the news, sometimes my iPhone. Breakfast could be a smoothie or ezekial toast with cashew butter, or oatmeal with chia seeds and almond butter.

7:00  – Two sets of push ups and then I am in the shower fast.

7:15  – I wake the kids up. While kids are getting dressed (wooohooo this is done on their own now!) I make their breakfast and lunch. I am down to making one lunch so it goes faster.

8:05  – We walk to school to drop Maizy, then I walk Rex to the bus.

8:15  – I say, “Aaahhhh” and then the rest of the day begins.

Keri Glassman is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life.


8. Audrey Puente, The Meteorologist

6:25  – Radio alarm goes off

6:30  – Check emails, social media, & weather websites and post forecast

6:45  – 4 year old climbs into my bed to cuddle

6:50  – Wash up & get dressed

7:00  – Wake up 7 year old & cuddle for 5 minutes

7:05  – Wake up 9 year old & chat for 5 minutes

7:10  – Start making breakfast

7:15  – Tell all 3 kids to get out of bed and get dressed

7:20  – Tell all 3 kids to get out of bed and dressed

7:30  – Make school lunches, serve breakfast & brush everyone’s hair.

7:45  – Pack lunches in backpacks and tell everyone to brush teeth & put shoes on.

7:50  – Tell everyone to brush teeth & put shoes on.

7:55  – Tell everyone to brush teeth & put shoes on, make myself a protein shake.

8:00  – Everyone out the door to walk to parking garage

8:20  – Drop off 9 year old daughter

8:30  – Drop off 7 year old son

8:40  – Drop off 4 year old daughter

8:50  – Arrive home, clean up morning mess, check emails, social media, & weather websites

9:15  – Shower & get ready for work

10:20  – Leave to work at FOX 5

11:00  – Start reporting day at FOX 5

Audrey Puente is a meteorologist at Fox New York.


This article was originally published in Forbes.