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Your morning routine sets the tone for your day … and it just might be your secret for success, too. From the first sip of coffee to your beauty regimen, your daily habits and preparations can make all the difference in your productivity. We asked eight of Nashville’s most accomplished and motivating women to share the morning routines that set up their days for success.

The Morning Routines of 8 Successful Nashville Women

A Good Day Starts the Night Before

Unsurprisingly, sleep deprivation can drastically affect your job performance; a solid night of rest gives way to better concentration and creativity the following day. “I’m a morning person, and I think a big reason why I love mornings is because of my routine, which starts the night before,” says Jessica Averbuch, CEO and owner of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty. For some, the magic combination is a hot shower and reading in bed. For others, it’s watching the nightly news and enjoying a glass of wine. Regardless of your nighttime routine, a consistent bedtime ritual can lead to sounder sleep patterns. “I always wind down with an Epsom salt bath, then I read and do a short sleep meditation,” Jessica says. “I think a good night’s sleep is the key to getting a good start the next day. When I wake up, I immediately put on the workout clothes that I put out the night before and enjoy a small cup of coffee before I work out.” Jessica prefers to change her exercise regimen daily, so she has quite the repertoire of activities she loves, from boot camp to yoga. “I know the workout is what lifts my mood and gets me energized about the day ahead.” So, catch those Zs and look toward a brighter and more active tomorrow!

CEO and owner of Zeitlin Sotheby's International Realty, Jessica Averbuch

Jessica Averbuch, CEO and owner of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty, is a huge proponent of sleep benefits. Image: Leslie Brown Photography

RELATED: How to Be a Morning Person When You’re Really a Night Owl

Organize, Prioritize & Artful List-Making

Being organized can mean the difference between a hurried, hectic day and one that runs smoothly and calmly. “Setting up my day for success means preparing for it the night before,” says Jane MacLeod, president and CEO of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. “I always clean off and organize my desk when my work is finished for the day. I print out an updated, prioritized to-do list, separated by “urgent” and “important” tasks, and highlight the top three things I intend to accomplish — despite whatever unexpected demands may arise and require my attention. I am a strong believer in the power of three!” Leaving yourself five minutes to wrap-up at the end of a long day can keep you from feeling overwhelmed when you get back to it. Simple activities such as filing, purging unnecessary papers, reorganizing desktop accessories and making an updated agenda are all preemptive steps that lead to a fresh start the following morning. For Jane, organizing the night before means she’s also able to set aside additional time for herself each morning before tackling any work challenges that come her way. She also puts off checking emails and messages until after she has completed her routine, which includes a two-mile walk with her dog, Lucy, 30 minutes of strength training in her home exercise room while listening to a spiritual podcast, setting aside time for reading the Bible or a daily devotional, breakfast and checking the news. With so much on her plate, it’s no wonder a clean desk and a positive outlook make for a more successful day!

President and CEO of Cheekwood, Jane MacLeod

Jane MacLeod, president and CEO of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, says the key to a successful day is organizing her space and priorities. Image: Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Get Moving!

For philanthropist Jennifer Frist, fitness is an invigorating way to hit the ground running. A morning workout routine can alleviate anxiety, boost your energy and mood, and help you focus on the day ahead. A little dose of endorphins goes a long way. “I start every day by working out with my friend and personal trainer, Caralyn Hammonds, at Takes 2 Fitness,” Jennifer says. “It gets me up, out of the house, and moving for the day. Once I get through that, then I feel like I can take on anything else!” Whether you opt for getting on a Peloton, doing Pilates or taking a brisk walk around the block, the perks of beginning your day with some physical activity are endless.

Philanthropist Jennifer Frist

For philanthropist Jennifer Frist, exercising first thing in the morning gives the best boost for her day. Image: Michael Shane Neal

Early Rising, Early Exercising

Beginning the day with exercise seems to be a common theme among professional women. Chauhan Ale & Masala House Chef Maneet Chauhan is no exception — even if it means getting up in the wee hours to make it happen. “Early morning exercise is definitely what sets my day up for success,” Maneet says. “Chefs are not typically known to be morning people, but with two young kids and many projects, I start my day at 5:30 a.m. to exercise.” After she finishes her workout, she wakes up her children and gets them ready for school, followed by a short walk while she reads through emails and preps for the day ahead. “I either walk on the treadmill or, if it’s nice enough, I stroll around my neighborhood,” she says. Early morning exercise isn’t just a way to fire up your metabolism; it also helps cultivate a routine that energizes your productivity.

Chef Maneet Chauhan

Maneet Chauhan, chef at Chauhan Ale & Masala House, credits early morning exercise with helping her feel motivated. Image: Amelia J. Moore Photography

RELATED: Local Health Professionals’ Top Suggestions for a Healthy 2021

Seek Solitude

With fewer distractions, exercising before your workday begins can offer the clarity and solitude you need to tackle a hectic day with the right amount of intensity and enthusiasm. For Sherry Stewart Deutschmann, founder and CEO of BrainTrust, that means waking up before 6:30 a.m. and hitting the streets of Hillsboro Village to fast-walk three or four miles before she even has her first cup of coffee. “[I don’t listen to] music or podcasts or books on tape,” she says of her morning walks, “and it’s the rare time you’ll see me without makeup.” She adds, “It’s a great time for solitude — to plan and prioritize my day without interruption.” Whether your morning routine involves exercise, walking the dog or even a soak in the tub, quiet time alone to gather your thoughts and focus is a constructive and relaxing way to begin a busy day.

Founder of Brain Trust, Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

Seeking solitude through a brisk morning walk makes for a productive day for BrainTrust founder and CEO Sherry Stewart Deutschmann. Image: Grannis Photography

Necessary Self-Care

Giving yourself a little personal TLC each morning can be a game-changer. Gracie Penix, model and swimwear designer, is a big believer in starting her day with a dose of self-care — an opportunity to recalibrate and enjoy a moment of reflection. “I start my day grounding myself with 30 minutes to an hour of quiet time,” Gracie tells us. “Before picking up my phone in the morning, I read some scripture and say a prayer or bless the day. This helps me refocus and calms any feelings of busyness or anxiety.” Her daily shower also serves as quiet time. “I think self-care time is super important,” she says. “Loving and caring for yourself for 15 to 20 minutes in the morning will change the trajectory of your whole day. Plus, getting out of my PJs helps me get into work mode.” Whether you opt for meditation, stretching, or simply lying in bed mentally preparing yourself, prioritize a few minutes of grace and calm before your day goes from zero to 60.

Model and Swimwear Designer Gracie Penix

For Gracie Penix, model and swimwear designer, self-care is an important part of her morning ritual. Image: Jami-Lyn Fehr Hall

Dress for Success & Make Every Moment Count

How you dress can shift your mental perspective of the day ahead. When you don professional clothing, you’re telling yourself it’s time to get into “work mode,” motivating you to gear up. After getting up every day at 6 a.m. to feed her dog and work out for an hour, Dr. Veronica Mallett, dean of Meharry Medical College, says she focuses on getting dressed in business attire. “It makes me feel like I’m going to work when I am dressed professionally,” she tells us, “even though I am working from my home office.” She’s also a big believer in planning ahead and diligently scheduling every time block on her calendar. “I look at my schedule a day ahead of time,” she says. “I have ADD, so what helps me is to set alarms so that I stay on time. I schedule everything on my calendar, even if it’s not a meeting. If I plan to spend time working on a grant, for example, I schedule that time on my calendar, and I manage my time by setting alarms. I also schedule breaks so that I remain productive.” By carving out time for each activity, you’re not only giving your day structure, but you’re also making every moment count.

Dean of Meharry Medical College, Dr. Veronica Mallett

Dr. Veronica Mallett, dean of Meharry Medical College, proves that daily productivity can be directly linked to dressing professionally and time management. Image: Meharry Medical College

Embrace the Chaos

Mornings aren’t always calm, cool, and collected. For some, the routine of feeding pets, getting kids out the door and prepping for the workday can be a little less “relaxed and structured” and a little more “roll with the punches.” And that’s what works for Hannah Crowell, owner and principal designer at Crowell + Company Interiors.“One thing I’ve learned is to be realistic about how much time is in a day and what my limitations are,” Hannah says. “My morning routine is anything but glamorous. I usually wake up at 6 a.m. to our cat, Larry, meow-screaming at me to feed him. I feed our menagerie of animals, frantically make lunches and breakfasts while yelling at my teenage daughters, ‘Get dressed! Stop fighting! Get in the car! It’s 25 degrees out … put on a coat!’ My last thought before walking out the door is, If I get into an accident, how humiliated will I be by what I’m wearing? Then, I usually decide the neon green Panama City Beach sweatshirt isn’t all that bad.” After she gets her children to school, Hannah takes some time to listen to an audiobook while getting herself and her office ready for the influx of work. “The day begins in chaos,” she says, “and by 9 a.m., it settles into some semblance of calm — only to do it all again when the cat deems it time.” The takeaway? Embrace the chaos and show yourself some grace.

Interior Designer Hannah Crowell

Sometimes it’s tough to remember that just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you should. “My natural inclination is to say ‘yes’ to everything and then to be extremely overwhelmed by how much I have on my plate,” says Hannah Crowell of Crowell + Company Interiors. “I have to remember I just have a plate — not a Shoney’s-size server’s tray.” Image: Grannis Photography

Thank you to these wonderful women for sharing their morning routines with us!


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