Se­crets of early ris­ers

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Cover Story -

It pays to have a strong start to your day. Five suc­cess­ful women share their morn­ing rou­tines with Es­ther McCarthy

MEET the suc­cess­ful Ir­ish women who have learned the se­cret of man­ag­ing a busy day — to be up with the lark.

Es­tab­lish­ing a great morn­ing rou­tine can be a chal­lenge for many women. From step­ping away from the snooze but­ton to or­gan­is­ing make-up, hair, and clothes, morn­ings can be a stress­ful time — and that’s be­fore you bring fam­ily into the mix.

For some of our most suc­cess­ful fe­male high-fly­ers, be­ing a morn­ing per­son and front-load­ing their day is the key — whether that rou­tine comes nat­u­rally or not.

But it makes a dif­fer­ence. A com­pre­hen­sive 2010 study by bi­ol­o­gist Christoph Ran­dler found that peo­ple whose per­for­mance peaks in the morn­ing tend to be more proac­tive and there­fore bet­ter po­si­tioned for ca­reer suc­cess. A Univer­sity of Toronto sur­vey even found that morn­ing peo­ple had higher rates of hap­pi­ness, cheer­ful­ness, and alert­ness.

We spoke with some of Ire­land’s most suc­cess­ful women about their morn­ing rou­tines — and how they start their day in the best pos­si­ble way.

Rachael English, broad­caster and nov­el­ist

The Morn­ing Ire­land pre­sen­ter un­der­stands bet­ter than most the im­por­tance of be­ing struc­tured and plan­ning ahead in the morn­ings.

“I do think, and even from peo­ple who work sim­i­lar hours, you tend to have to have ev­ery­thing set by a cer­tain time. I set the alarm for 4.20am, two presses on the snooze, and I do get up im­me­di­ately then at 4.30am. If I’m not hav­ing my ce­real by the time the news head­lines on BBC World Ser­vice comes on at 5, I’m in a heap.

“Ev­ery­thing’s out from the night be­fore and then I’m out the door. The first thing I do when I get into work is have a cup of tea. At work we tend to have a rou­tine that’s al­most un­spo­ken: You get the pa­pers, you make a cup of tea, and read the run­ning or­der, then the day starts from there.”

Does she eat any­thing healthy to kick-start her day?

“I wish! I do have a bowl of ce­real be­fore I go in. To be hon­est, to eat any­thing at all at that hour of the day is an achieve­ment.” When she’s writ­ing (her lat­est novel,

The Amer­i­can Girl, is out now) her hours are more typ­i­cal. “I tend to get up at a nor­mal time, and I don’t tend to start writ­ing un­til about 10 in the morn­ing. I do try and write most days.

“For all the draw­backs of be­ing up early, there are ben­e­fits as well, and the big one is you do get to see a part of the day that’s usu­ally the most beau­ti­ful part of the day. In the sum­mer, very early morn­ing is spec­tac­u­lar. You get all those pink and yel­low colours.”

Pamela Flood, broad­caster and busi­ness­woman

Pamela runs Counter Cul­ture, a healthy-eat­ing restau­rant and ca­ter­ing busi­ness, with hus­band Ro­nan Ryan. The cou­ple have three young chil­dren, Elsie, 7, Har­ri­son, 5, and Gra­cie, 20 months, who love break­fast as much as Pamela did as a child.

“I would al­ways go with por­ridge and throw some fresh fruit into it. And a cup of tea is an Ir­ish re­quire­ment. With the kids, I have a selec­tion of stuff. Some is very healthy, like the por­ridge or sugar-free muesli, and oth­ers maybe not-so-healthy ce­re­als. I like to give them choices be­cause I used to have choices as a kid, and I loved break­fast as a kid. Break­fast for me was a lovely meal. They love their break­fast too, I’ve kind of in­stilled that in them.

“We eat break­fast be­fore we dress be­cause we’re in­clined to wear our food and I’m as bad as they are. There’s plenty of time to get dressed af­ter brekkie, rather than wear­ing your ce­real down your school jumper.

“The baby’s still at home with me, so then it’s en­ter­tain­ment time while try­ing to clean up the kitchen and get the clothes wash­ing on. It’s just so busy. There’s very lit­tle sit­ting down, that’s for sure.”

Pamela feels that hav­ing time and struc­ture in the morn­ing is hugely ben­e­fi­cial. “Oh def­i­nitely, and if you’re not some­one who likes to move too fast in the morn­ing, and I’m re­ally not, it’s great to give your­self time. A good start to the day, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.”

Sinead Kane, en­durance ath­lete

De­spite be­ing born legally blind with just 5% vi­sion, Sinead, from Youghal, has been achiev­ing all of her life. She qual­i­fied as Ire­land’s first legally blind so­lic­i­tor and in re­cent years turned her am­bi­tions to en­durance

run­ning, be­com­ing the first ever blind per­son to run seven marathons in seven con­ti­nents in seven days. She is cur­rently study­ing for a PhD.

A typ­i­cal day starts at 7am. “When you wake up early, you have more time for plan­ning, strate­gic think­ing, and get­ting or­gan­ised.”

Her break­fast varies de­pend­ing on her train­ing strat­egy. “One day it could be a cup of green tea, brown toast, and cherry toma­toes. Other days might be two eggs. Or it might be blue­ber­ries. It de­pends what I’m do­ing that day.

“I’m veg­e­tar­ian — no meat, no fish. Pre-run, I like to keep things light. Post run, I will eat more.”

By 8.30am Sinead will be at the gym and by 11.30am study­ing for her PhD. Her week­ends are more re­laxed but she tries to be up by 9.30am. She says she’s not a great sleeper and finds it hard to get to sleep.

There are two ab­so­lute musts first thing: Make the bed and stay away from so­cial me­dia. “I don’t like leav­ing the house or be­ing in my room too long know­ing the bed’s un­made. I like know­ing that my room is neat and tidy for when I come back to it. Also, when my bed is made it sig­nals to me the day has be­gun and there is no get­ting back into it.

“I check my phone to see if I have any texts/calls but I don’t check so­cial me­dia. I find Face­book and Twit­ter can dis­tract me if I have tasks to do.”

Julie Ryan, film/TV pro­ducer

Julie, from Lis­goold, Co Cork, is one of our most suc­cess­ful film pro­duc­ers, bring­ing smash hit The

Young Of­fend­ers to the big screen. She re­cently set up her own pro­duc­tion com­pany, MK1 Pro­duc­tions, and is film­ing a TV project in St Lu­cia.

Her work could in­volve get­ting up as early as 5am dur­ing film­ing. “I don’t find it easy to get up early so I’ve had to trick my­self into mak­ing it work over the years. I ease my­self into talk­ing, start­ing off with some gen­tle hum­ming — nor­mally a top 30 Christ­mas song that ev­ery­one hates. By the time I get to set or work, though, I’m ready to take on the world.”

She likes to start the day with the healthy habit of drink­ing wa­ter. “I wake up and drink a pint of wa­ter. I drink an ob­nox­ious amount of wa­ter but I love it. I don’t drink cof­fee. I once did, and near hal­lu­ci­nated, but then again it was my first time mak­ing cof­fee and I might have taken too much.”

She de­scribes her morn­ing non-ne­go­tiable as “a shower and a show­tune” and watches movie trail­ers to mo­ti­vate her­self. Her worst morn­ing habit is check­ing her emails in bed. “I think it’s al­ways wise to plan some­thing you en­joy for first thing in the morn­ing. I go through phases where I some­times go to the gym in the morn­ing but I don’t nec­es­sar­ily en­joy the process of work­ing out. I go there to lis­ten to pod­casts and there’s the added bonus that I’m at­tempt­ing to work out as well. This is all mas­sively ex­pe­dited on a day I’m film­ing.”

Eve­lyn Cu­sack, me­te­o­rol­o­gist

As one of Ire­land’s best­known and loved weather fore­cast­ers, Eve­lyn un­der­stands the value of a morn­ing rou­tine, es­pe­cially given much of her work is shift based.

“When Rachael English in­tro­duces me at 7.55 on

Morn­ing Ire­land I am just com­ing to the end of a long night shift which started at 8pm the pre­vi­ous even­ing. When I am on TV my shift starts at noon and ends at 10pm.

“So there is great va­ri­ety from day to day and, like most work­ing moth­ers — and some fa­thers, of course — I try to squeeze in the house­work/gar­den­ing/ cook­ing/shop­ping into the gaps be­tween shifts. Or not.”

A mum of one (daugh­ter, Fleur, 17, sits the Leav­ing Cert next year) it is she who or­gan­ises the school run.

“I hop out of bed at 7am (if I wake ear­lier, maybe I’ll catch up on read­ing) and have the first black cof­fee of the day and make my to-dolist. Have a shower and to truly wake up grad­u­ally turn the dial to cold. To help keep the weight down I never have break­fast un­til be­tween 11am and noon. The hint is in the ‘break­fast’. If I eat at seven or eight I am still starv­ing by 11.”

Af­ter drop­ping her daugh­ter to school, she aims to have some ex­er­cise. “If it is a sunny day now is the time I must cy­cle/walk Dun Laoghaire pier or I will never fit it in. Or cy­cle to work.”

Pic­ture: Dan Line­han Pic­ture: De­nis Scan­nell

Sinéad Kane: “I don’t like leav­ing the house know­ing the bed’s un­made.” Julie Ryan: “I ease my­self into talk­ing.”

Pic­ture: Nick Brad­shaw Pic­ture: Dave Mee­han

Rachael English: “I set the alarm for 4.20am.” Eve­lyn Cu­sack: “I never have break­fast un­til be­tween 11am and noon.”

Pic­ture: Nick Brad­shaw

Pamela Flood at home with her daugh­ter Elsie: “A good start to the day, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.