When you long for more hours in the day, can never seem to tackle your entire to-do list or always feel on the wrong side of exhausted, you’ll do just about anything to find a way to streamline your life — including waking up at 5 a.m.
The mythical 5 o’clock in the morning routine stirs visions of your best self: you in your best athletic wear, you making a green smoothie, you practicing a daily meditation and mantra. It’s enough to make you think, “Yeah, sure, I can do this.”
Well, I actually tried. I attempted four celebrity morning routines to see which one was the best, and if I could actually be someone who has a morning routine. From a duchess to a YouTube lifestyle vlogger, I took the morning routines of four people and tried a different one each day.
Here’s who I modeled my mornings after, and how things went.
1. Tuesday’s morning routine from Meghan Markle
When I thought of celebrity morning routines, my mind immediately went to Meghan Markle, and not just because she’s my style and philanthropic inspiration (insert Chris Crocker meme shouting “Leave Meghan Alone!”). Markle has one of the busiest, most pressurized schedules in the world, and that’s what drew me to her. Cheat Sheet compiled her morning routine from start to finish, and let me tell you, it was a doozy.
First, Markle reportedly wakes up at 4:30 a.m. I did not. Did I try? Yes, of course, but I eventually rolled out of bed around 5 a.m. Her first activity is said to be a 30-minute yoga practice, and while I’m no yoga expert, I turned on a Yoga with Adrienne video and did my best.
Unfortunately, the yoga didn’t exactly help me wake up. While a more vigorous yoga practice may be more beneficial for getting the blood flowing and waking up the body, the one I chose was potentially a bit too calming, and I had to resist the urge to crawl back into my bed.
Next up, Markle answers emails and listens to music. While the duchess is said to have her own playlist that I could have attempted to reproduce, I instead used my own Girl Power playlist full of my favorite female artists and songs that make me feel like a Spice Girl.
This, alongside finally grabbing a cup of coffee (which is not Markle-approved, but I give up coffee for no one), did wake me up. There was something about having Lizzo blaring through my Amazon Echo that made me want to charge forward with my day. If there’s one thing from this routine that I recommend, it’s a good morning playlist.
As for breakfast, I didn’t stick with Markle’s exact diet, just her timeline. Cheat Sheet reports that the duchess typically eats oatmeal or an acai bowl after answering emails. Instead, I made myself a mug omelette and caught up on my YouTube subscriptions to relax. Next, while not in her schedule, I showered, did my skin care and got ready for the day. I’m sure this is part of the Duchess of Sussex’s routine, but it wasn’t mentioned. I wasn’t going to miss brushing my teeth just to be more like Markle.
Markle then attends any royal events she has on her schedule. I, unfortunately, am not royalty (just in my mind), so I had no charitable visits or things that require me to stand on a balcony next to the Queen. Instead, I took one of Markle’s next steps, grocery shopping, and parlayed it into my normal life. On a Tuesday, I didn’t need to go to the grocery store, but I did need to do a few household chores. I washed dishes, swept the cat hair off my floors (I see you, pet owners) and did a load of laundry. By the time all of this was done, it was 10 a.m. and it was time for me to report to work.
THE VERDICT: There were a few things I enjoyed about this celebrity morning routine. First, there is the playlist. The music helped get my mind ready to take on the day, and it’s definitely something I’ll work into my own version of a morning routine. I also liked taking care of emails first thing. While this may not be something that’s for everyone, it helped me feel like I got a bit of a jump start. The little time of corresponding with people wasn’t enough to make me feel like I was immediately in work mode. Instead, it just gave me peace of mind that I could tick some things off my to-do list.
What I didn’t like? The wake-up time. 4:30 a.m. is far too early. I report to my job at 10 a.m. This timeline would give me nearly six hours of additional moments to get things done, but it just left me feeling tired and cranky for most of the day. Plus, I had quite a bit of extra time. I watched an extra YouTube video and scrolled on my phone longer than I should have. Overall, this routine could have been condensed for me.
2. Wednesday’s morning routine from Ashley Graham
If you’ve never watched Elle’s celebrity routine videos, you’re missing out. You get a behind-the-scenes look at some of your favorite stars’ lives and, like me, you can take a bit of inspiration for yourself. As for Ashley Graham’s celebrity morning routine, it was by far the simplest of the bunch.
Part of Graham’s morning routine actually involves a bit of nighttime prep work. In her Elle video, the model explains that she sleeps with her hair in a bun using a scrunchie. She takes her hair down and explains that the blow out she’s gotten can be used again for the following day. On Tuesday night, knowing I was going to emulate her routine, I took the time to wash my hair and give myself an at-home blow out.
Prior to going to bed, I used a scrunchie (not an elastic hair tie, which can cause creasing) to put my hair in a loose bun on top of my head. I set my alarm for 7:45 a.m. — like Graham’s own in the video — and actually woke up on time (after waking at 5 a.m. the day before, 7:45 felt like sleeping in). When I took the bun out the next morning, my hair was not quite as voluminous and bouncy, but it certainly didn’t need any extra work that would slow me down. I knew that I could brush it out and go before even getting out from under my covers.
Before she gets out of bed, Graham explains that she likes to set an intention for her day, and she does so with a Bible study and avoids her phone. While Graham’s devotional is religious, this portion of the routine can be done by anyone. Whatever your belief system is, or if you aren’t religious at all, simply meditate and take time for yourself.
Like Graham, I identify as Christian, so did a devotional as she does. There was a major difference, though: I have a devotional app on my phone. Look, I’m a millennial, okay? I can’t help myself. Everything is on my phone. Unfortunately, before reading my devotional, I took a scroll (or four) through Instagram and Twitter. However, I did eventually finish and get out of bed.
Next, Graham does her skin care and makeup routine. The model’s approach is minimal, and well, mine is not. For this experiment, I didn’t want to change me. I just wanted to see how adjusting my time would make me feel.
The model finishes her skin care and makeup in about 40 minutes according to the video’s timestamps. Mine? Yeah, it took an hour and a half. By the time I was done, it was around 9:45, and I needed to clock into work soon. Thankfully, though, Graham explains in her video that she’s almost always running late, so maybe that means I followed her routine well?
Finally, Graham sits down to eat breakfast. I’ll be honest. I made coffee as soon as I was out of bed, prior to doing my skin care, so I’d already had a little something. However, like her, I was running late and grabbed a granola bar before sitting down to start my day.
THE VERDICT: Overall, I liked that of all the celebrity morning routines I tested, Graham’s was simple. Running late didn’t make me feel like a failure, and I love that I got to sleep in a bit more than when I tried Markle’s routine. However, her morning doesn’t seem that different from my own. I did, however, enjoy taking time in bed to set my intentions for the day, and I felt markedly less stressed as I got ready for work.
3. Thursday’s morning routine from Amy Landino
YouTube lifestyle guru Amy Landino is a personal favorite of mine. She’s straight to the point, honest and still encouraging. She also just so happens to be writing an entire book on how to create your own morning routine. In one of her latest videos, she walks viewers through her own routine and how to customize it for yourself. So I did.
For Landino, her morning routine comes down to three core categories. The first is mindfulness. She recommends customizing your mindfulness practice to your own needs. Whether that’s being intentional with a single, simple task or carving out time for meditation, you need to warm up your brain.
I enjoyed waking up at 7:45 during Ashley Graham’s morning routine, so I kept that timeline during this day as well. I also continued Graham’s intention setting. Like the day before, I did a devotional to begin my day and, this time, I didn’t scroll through social media first (look at me go!).
Next, Landino encourages movement, so yes, I had to exercise again. Look, I’m not someone who exercises, but the good news is that Landino doesn’t necessarily say that you have to do a workout video. She explains that taking a walk can tackle this part of her morning routine.
I just happen to have the world’s cutest dog (sorry), so I decided to take her for a walk in the morning instead of the evenings like normal. While I live in Atlanta, the weather has become markedly cooler lately, and this part of Landino’s morning routine quickly became my favorite part. The cool air helped wake me up, and I took a travel mug of coffee with me in one hand while I walked.
Landino’s final step is what she calls mastery. Here, you incorporate something you want to get better at or accomplish and, for me, that’s writing a novel. Sure, it’s a little cliché, but on Thursday, I sat down and worked for 30 minutes. While that time was short, it made me feel like I’d done something to progress toward a goal.
THE VERDICT: Overall, I enjoyed the flexibility of Landino’s morning plan. Her advice was all about customizing what she does to your own life, and that’s exactly what I was looking to do. I could choose my own time to wake up and do whatever type of exercise or movement I wanted.
The only downfall here was the mastery portion, because getting into a creative streak and having to end it was honestly sad for me. Sure, every day would be different, because I may not be feeling as inspired, but to have to stop writing when I was just getting going was certainly a negative.
4. Friday’s morning routine from Beyoncé
We all have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé, right? The viral meme (and my admiration for the singer, actor, director and activist) inspired my last of four celebrity morning routines. Career Girl Daily compiled what appears to be Beyoncé’s morning schedule, and if I can be more like Beyoncé, well, I’ll give it a shot.
According to the site, Beyoncé typically wakes up at 6 a.m. to practice gratefulness. Again, I did not wake up in time for this. Look, if the sun is not up, I am not up. If this experiment has taught me anything, it’s that I enjoy sunlight more than I thought. Instead, I made myself get out of bed around 6:45 (don’t judge my ability to hit snooze, OK?). How Beyoncé actually practices gratitude is a secret, but for me, it was a combination of prayer and intention setting. I stayed in bed for a moment (not on my phone, I swear) and thought about the things I could accomplish that day.
Next, Beyoncé has breakfast. If breakfast means coffee, then sure, I had breakfast, too. By Friday, I was running on less steam than day one.
Why? Well, it’s time for an admission. I usually sleep until about 9:30 a.m., so this week was challenging. I needed coffee. I needed coffee the way Lorelai Gilmore needs coffee. In fact, I skipped breakfast altogether because I felt I couldn’t possibly go on to make Beyoncé’s plant-based vegan breakfast. Honestly, sitting down with my coffee, catching up on YouTube and browsing Pinterest felt just as relaxing as eating some fancy breakfast from Whole (Paycheck) Foods.
After breakfast, Beyoncé allegedly works out. Since physical fitness is, admittedly, not my strong suit, I went back to Tuesday’s yoga routine. I found a beginner’s video and attempted it. Through this, I’ve found that I enjoy yoga and its more laid-back approach to exercise, as well as its typical “every body is a good body” ideology. As a plus-size woman, exercise can often be intimidating, but yoga’s focus on wellness, as opposed to shredded abs (though that’s OK, too!), was a surprise for me during this week.
THE VERDICT: Technically, Beyoncé’s celebrity morning routine ends with her workout. For me, this wasn’t the case. After waking up at 6:45, I had plenty of time to do my skin care and makeup the way I like: slowly. That’s something else I learned during this experiment: What you do in your routine should be for you, not something someone else says you should do. For me, doing my skin care and makeup brings me this overwhelming sense of calm and confidence that makes me feel as if I can tackle anything.
What I learned about celebrity morning routines
Now, after sleeping as much as I’d like for an entire weekend and not rising until the sun is firmly in the sky, I have a better grasp on morning routines. The most important thing, though? Routines are personal and should be structured as such.
Do you love working out? Make time for it. Can you benefit from meditation to make your workday less stressful? Wake up 15 minutes earlier. For me, I love my beauty regimen. I need to do it before starting any work. As a person who works from home, putting on real clothes and applying makeup has helped me feel more productive, so I plan to do it more. In fact, I plan to do it every day.
The helpful part of this experiment was learning what I liked: feeling put-together, taking time for myself, drinking coffee. Since the experiment, I’ve woken up at 8 a.m. each day. It’s certainly not the earliest I could be waking up, but it gives me the opportunity to make my coffee (yes, I do this first and, yes, I have a problem) and drink it while reading a devotional like Ashley Graham. Next, I’ll answer some emails like Meghan Markle, but I throw in a good dose of Instagram and Pinterest. Finally, I do my skin care and makeup and take my time before logging in to work.
If you’ve been thinking of testing out some celebrity morning routines — or even just any new morning routine — in the hope of getting more things done, my advice would be to remember that your morning sets your mood for your day. There is truly no best routine. Don’t stress about waking up at 5 a.m. if you hate it. Don’t meditate if you get bored. Find an exercise you like, not one that feels like punishment. Do you. Do you at 5 a.m. Do you at 8 a.m. Because no matter your inspiration, it’s your morning, and you deserve a good one.
If your morning routine needs coffee, find out how to make the perfect French press cup!