My mornings are the messiest part of my day. I do not rise and shine. Instead, I hit snooze on the alarm and throw the covers over my head. As I hear the early bus shuffle through my stop outside my window, my mind fills with thoughts from the night before, with to-do lists and deadlines. The alarm goes off again, and I repeat the snooze cycle twice more. By the time I roll out of bed, I’m a tangle of anxiety.
This never seems to be the case in other people’s morning routines. I know, because those routines now seem to be everywhere: in series like The Cut’s “How I Get It Done” and The New York Times’ “Sunday Morning,” in roundups on news outlets from CNN to Vogue, and in hashtagged Instagram pictures of frothy lattes cut with leafy designs. The subjects of most of these morning-routine reports are celebrities and other conventionally successful people. Richard Branson plays a “hard game” of tennis at 6 a.m. Elizabeth Gilbert makes homemade chai and dances.
Morning-routine stories are a relatively new trend in the undying genre of self-help. In voyeuristic glimpses into a typically private time of day, the rich and the famous reveal how they are almost invariably superhumanly energetic. They meditate, run several miles, make matcha tea, do some yoga—all before 8 o’clock. Some dive into their email right away. Others ban phones at breakfast. But the through line is the same: A carefully choreographed morning routine is the key to a productive day. These people have it together, the stories seem to imply, and so can you, if you just wake up at 5:30 a.m.