Our Team's Morning Routines & How to Optimize Yours Our Team's Morning Routines & How to Optimize Yours
Back to Insights

April 01, 2020

Our Team's Morning Routines & How to Optimize Yours

How to create great habits for a great day of work from home

How we start our day sets the tone for the rest of the day. No doubt about it. And in times of crisis, discipline is everything. Discipline keeps us going, growing, and glowing at work. As with anything, practice makes perfect. After a while, discipline turns into habits and becomes second nature to what we do and who we are. When we put the mundane on autopilot, we open the capacity to tackle the big stuff and master each day.

To help you develop your daily routine, we reached out to our team for inspiration and insights. They came back with a beautiful list of tips and tricks that they put to practice each day. We hope these inspire you to roll out of bed with a newfound energy, focus, and purpose.

Kevin O’Neill, Managing Partner

What time does the alarm ring, do you hit snooze? 

My alarm goes off at 6 am, but generally, I am up before the alarm sounds.  

What elements make up your morning routine? 

My first activity when I wake up is to consider the 24 hours ahead and frame my mind to be able to properly approach what is coming at me in the day. I meditate quietly, asking for insights in to how to face my day in such a way that I don’t have a lot of wreckage to clean up.

Even though I haven’t had the chance to do it much lately, I enjoy getting a morning workout in, whether it be on the Peloton, or a run, and/or kettlebells.

What’s normally cooking for breakfast? What time is your first bite?

Coffee and my gluten-free Red Mill oatmeal are my morning go-to. 

Have you changed up your morning routine recently?

Well, my routine has changed a lot lately, as has the whole country’s and the world’s. I am trying to stay focused on self-care as much as I possibly can. The good news is that I am getting more — and better quality — sleep than I have in ages.

Do you get to email first thing or check it later?

I don’t look at my phone until I have coffee in hand, which is typically 30-45 minutes after I start moving in the morning. It’s one of my life hacks... only way to maintain some control over my life and schedule is to decide when I am reviewing the emails and messages that are being sent to me.  Also, when I sit with my coffee, I ask Alexa “what’s new?” and “she” walks me through my pre-selected news items that have come out overnight. 

At what time do you go to bed?

I try to get to bed between 10-11pm generally.

Do you have any evening rituals to set the tone for the next morning?

I drink my nighttime tea and do an evening inventory of my day. How did I do? Did I make a mistake that I need to correct? Do I owe an amends or an apology to anyone? I do a mental balancing of my “books” and make note of what corrective action I need to take tomorrow. Then I sleep... like a baby.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

I watch my sleep patterns on my Oura ring... look for themes. Did I toss and turn?  What did my deep sleep v. REM v. light sleep look like? How can I adjust my activity levels, caffeine intake, or meditation to ensure that I sleep better?

A day in the life of Kevin…

6:00 – 6:30 am: wake-up, frame the day, meditate
6:30 – 7:30 am: work out
7:30 – night: work
7:30 – 10:00 pm: dinner, family time, tea, daily inventory 
10:00 – 11:00 pm: bedtime

Geoff Votta, Partner

At what time do you wake-up?


How do you start your day?

There are three staples to my morning: cold showers (at least 3 minutes), morning meditation, and Bulletproof coffee. Pro tip: I prep my coffee machine at night, so the first cup is always ready when I wake.

When do you have breakfast, and what’s usually on the menu?

10am at the earliest… protein shake.

Have you made any adjustments to your morning routine recently?

With three young kids, I’ve had to swap the gym for daddy duties, getting them up and ready for school. Once they’re off and running, my mornings usually consist of coffee meetings. I couldn’t imagine any better way to start the day than family time but would recommend a morning workout if you can. 

Do you go straight to the email inbox, or leave it for later?

I’m a big believer in email triage, so not unless urgent. That means making rapid, effective decisions and carving out chunks of time to respond. And yes, the popular 2-minute rule. It works.

What time do you go to sleep?

9:00 – 10:00pm

Do you do anything before bed to prepare and set the tone for the next day?

I like to squeeze in some leisure reading. Absolutely no work before bed.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

Insight Timer in the morning.

Geoff's daily routine…

4:30 – 5:00 am: wake up, coffee, meditate 
5:00 – 5:30 am: coffee and news
5:30 – 7:00 am: get kids ready for day & shower
7:00 – 8:00 am: Starbucks for news and strategic bd work
8:00 – 6:30 pm: office
6:30 – 7:00 pm: home for dinner
7:00 – 8:00 pm: kids to bed
8:00 – 9:00 pm: spend time with wife, TV, and relax
9:00 – 9:30 pm: in bed reading, lights out

Linnéa Jungnelius, Senior Director, Marketing + Strategy

When do you rise and shine?

Around 7:00am.

What makes your mornings productive and inspiring?

After my feet hit the floor, I make the bed, drink lemon water, pour a coffee-to-go, and head out for a walk. I live by the beach so I’m fortunate to take in some beautiful sunrises and fresh air — this stirs up clarity, energy, and creativity for me, which are so essential to my work. Then some combination of breakfast, podcasts/news, meditation, and checking our social media channels. Before diving into my most difficult tasks, I hand-write my action plan for the day, which I refer to and reprioritize constantly.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, any go-to’s?

About an hour after wake-up. My go-to’s are avocado toast (secret ingredients: EVOO, red pepper flakes, pumpkin seeds) or oatmeal with peanut butter and berries.

Has your routine changed since working remotely?

Yes. Small things that make a big difference when WFH are making the bed, getting out of the house daily, live plants (proud plant mom over here!), and good air. I love opening the windows, always have an air purifier running, and a humidifier in the winter. Getting dressed well gets me in the right headspace. Lately, I have dabbled in smart home technology to cue routines. My Philips Hue smart bulbs slowly light in the morning and dim at night (cue: get off the computer and get on the yoga mat!).

Do you manage email in the morning, or leave it until later in the day?

I do. Getting it out of the way removes mental clutter to focus on my biggest tasks. In the evening, I revisit my inbox to clear out emails that have trickled in. I often use the Delay Delivery feature so the person receiving responses doesn’t feel obligated to respond at night.

What time do you go to sleep?

11:00pm or so.

Any evening routines that get you in the right headspace? 

Setting the coffee on auto-brew is a game-changer. The aroma and bubbling of the coffee machine are the best incentives to get up the next day. To unwind, I run or practice yoga in the evening. And to end the evening, a little indulgence in a piece of chocolate and herbal tea. Last but not least, I aim to put the phone away at least 30 minutes before bed.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

I have an app for everything, well almost. For meditation, I’m a fan of Insight Timer. I’m a big Podcast listener and frequent NPR’s Up First and episodes by Rich Roll, Joe Rogan, and Oprah for extra morning motivation. I love data and dive into the Garmin watch/app quite a bit to check on sleep and activity patterns. Product-wise, I like the Molecule air purifier. Before bed, ginger or chamomile tea with adaptogens like Ashwagandha or Rishi.

Linnéa’s daily routine looks something like...

7:00 – 7:30 am: wake, make bed, coffee, walk outside
7:30 – 8:30 am: meditate, breakfast, podcast/news, calls to family in Sweden, get ready
8:30 – 6:30 pm: work
6:30 – 7:30 pm: yoga or run
7:30 – 10:00 pm: dinner, time with friends, email, tv-series, tidy up
10:00 – 11:00 pm: relax, read, yoga nidra, sleep

Dan Weller, Associate

What time is wake-up?

6:30 am

How do you start the day right?

I make my bed, stretch, meditate, and do some body weight exercises (push-ups, crunches, planks, etc.). This is essential to start my day with a clear mind.

How soon after waking up is breakfast, and what’s your favorite?

An hour or so. Cereal or yogurt, plus granola.

How has your routine evolved over recent years?

It has changed to incorporate meditation, but I’ve always started my day with stretching and exercise.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I don’t look at my phone until I’ve gone through my morning routine; I usually check email about an hour after waking up.

What time do you go to sleep?

Between 10 and 11 pm.

Do you do anything before bed to prepare and set the tone for the next day?

I always check my schedule and make sure I know what needs to get done first thing. After that I read.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

Books! I read before going to sleep. And I use my phone as my alarm clock.

Dan’s day goes something like this…

6:30 – 7:30 am: wake up, stretch, meditate, exercise
7:30 – 8:00 am: check email, make breakfast, create checklist for the day
8:00 – 11:30 am: calls, meetings, research
11:30 – 12:00 pm: lunch
12:00 – 4:00 pm: calls, meetings, research
4:00 – 6:30 pm: recap day’s accomplishments + what needs to be done tomorrow/ rest of week
6:30 – 7:00 pm: make dinner
7:30 – 8:30 pm: check email, reduce tomorrow morning’s workload
8:30 – 10:00 pm: writing/reading/watching TV

Derek Santana, Senior Associate, Knowledge + Insights

What time do you usually wake-up?

Around 6:30 am. Often up before the alarm.

How do you start your day? What elements make your mornings productive and inspiring?

Before I leave the bed, I check my email first thing. If there are time-sensitive projects, as there often are with the West Coast time difference, I freshen up and get directly to work for the first hour or two. On the daily, I organize a written list of priorities/deliverables and several logs used to track project progress. I reference both closely throughout the day. As a practice, I always have blank paper nearby for taking notes, drawing diagrams, and tracking ideas. This is essential to my productivity. I also like to get moving each morning. I walk my dog up and down our neighborhood hills and do some physical therapy stretches using a foam roller.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I start my day with a tall glass of cold water within ten minutes of waking up to get my metabolism going. Within a couple hours, I also make myself hot herbal tea and oatmeal, followed by coffee.

Has your morning routine changed over recent years? If so, how?

I used to incorporate a 10 to 20-minute meditation session (Headspace app) and gym workout (walking, running, lifting, stretching) into my morning routine. With lots of pressing projects in the early mornings recently, I have had to shift those routines to the evening when possible — still working on striking the best balance.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

Yes. By the time I wake up, the east coast is well into the workday so there are often time-sensitive matters that need attention or input. In these situations, I answer almost immediately after waking up, before breakfast or any morning wellness routine.

What time do you go to sleep?

It depends. I’m certainly a night owl. Between 11 pm and midnight is usually the target.

Do you do anything before bed to prepare and set the tone for the next day?

Most of the tone-setting takes place early morning as I like to do so with a clear mind. For me, the key is to go to sleep with a clear mind, which makes for peaceful sleep. Mental clarity at night allows me to wake up focused for the day ahead.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

The Headspace app has been a big part of my wellness routine. Aside from that, I am a big believer in physical therapy and use both a foam roller and rubber resistance bands to do some focused stretches and exercises. 

Derek’s daily timeline...

6:30 – 6:45 am: wake up, check email, respond to pressing matters, cold glass of water
6:45 – 7:00 am: freshen up, kick off projects (all morning routines put on hold until time-sensitives are handled), shower, check financial news
7:00 – 7:45 am: walk dog, hot herbal tea, foam roller stretches, read news, breakfast
7:45 – 6:30 pm: desk time
6:30 – 8:00 pm: wrap up work 
8:00 – 11:00 pm: cook dinner, long dog walks, listening to music, TV, reading
11:00  – 12:00 pm: bedtime

If there is a golden thread through our team-members’ daily routines, it’s the simple act of having one. What it looks like is as diverse as our people are. So pick up on the habits that work for you and rest assured that small, repetitive actions lead to big, sustainable outcomes. Here’s to intentional routines — and good mornings!