Do you spring out of bed or hit snooze? Answer emails before dawn or after your first coffee? Laura Silverman talks to seven successful women to find out how they kickstart their high-octane days
Businesswoman Lisa Tse
Lisa Tse, 38, runs her own brand agency, with clients that include Willem Barentsz gin and VanLeles Diamonds. She also started The Sorority, a private club that introduces high-flying women to each other at networking events. She lives in North London with her husband Paul and their son Oscar, six
6.30 I’m in bed by 10pm so that I’m alert when my alarm goes off. I hate rigidity, but I have a strict routine because of Oscar. Paul is a doctor and is often on call so I’m on child duty.
6.31 Wash and apply Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30 and Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser. My hair sorts itself out, and I don’t usually wear make-up – I’m very low maintenance.
6.35 Make an instant decision about what to wear. I like elegant tailoring from Dior and Amanda Wakeley, and jewellery from Anabela Chan. I have shoes made for me by Kari C.
6.45 Sip a Nosh Raw Veggie Juice sitting in the garden if it’s warm. I like being around nature, which reminds me of growing up in Devon. It’s peaceful and I think about the day ahead.
Lisa’s go-to face cream
7.05 After WhatsApping my wider family and my female friends, who are crazy busy like me, I wake up Oscar. There’s a lot of negotiation to get him dressed. I play really loud music such as Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake to fill the house with positivity.
7.30 Drive Oscar to school, where he has breakfast.
7.40 Set off on the 50-minute journey to work. On the tube platform, I check what’s trending on social media, glance at newspaper websites and scan the first line of my emails. I also jot down ideas on my phone as I’m walking the final leg to the office.
8.45 Arrive at work 15 minutes before my staff. I start sifting through the thousands of emails in my inbox. The day has begun.
Author Louise Doughty
Author Louise Doughty, 54, whose novel Apple Tree Yard was dramatised for television earlier this year, lives with her partner and two daughters in North London
7.00 The alarm goes off. I think about going for a run. Hit snooze.
7.10 Alarm goes off again. Switch on Radio 4 – it’s important to stay aware of what’s going on in the world when you work on your own because you don’t have those office ‘watercooler’ conversations. My alarm and radio are on my phone so social media and email are at my fingertips, but I’m trying to break the habit of checking them immediately. I have two or three writing days a week – when I ignore everything except my book – and admin days for tax returns, publicity or emails to my agent.
7.30 If it’s a run (more like a brisk walk), I tumble into Sweaty Betty sports gear to look the part even if I’m rubbish at it.
7.40 Is my teenager in the land of the living? Her father and I take it in turns to call through her bedroom door, a process as dicey as prodding a pit bull with a stick. Later, he will take her to school.
Louise starts her day with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon
8.00 Go for a run, aiming for 5k. Sometimes I take my laptop in a backpack and have breakfast in a café. On a good day, I write 2,000 words over two or three hours. But it isn’t always like that.
8.40 If I don’t go to a café, it’s home to shower and sling on yoga pants and a top. If I didn’t go running, I could easily be in my dressing gown till lunchtime. For meetings I opt for Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses or tailored trousers with a Reiss top. Dinny Hall earrings and pendants are also favourites. Make-up is a bit of everything but you can’t beat Boots No 7 for quality.
9.15 Breakfast at home is scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and a black coffee. If it’s an admin day, I scroll through Twitter and emails.
10.00 Once the coffee has kicked in, I’m typing away, either at a book or emails. This is my most productive time – after noon it’s the law of diminishing returns.
- Louise will appear at the Henley Literary Festival tomorrow; henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk; her most recent novel, Black Water (Faber & Faber, £7.99), is out now. To order a copy for £6.39 until 15 October, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; P&P is free on orders over £15
Bare Biology founder Melanie Lawson
Melanie Lawson, 44, is the founder of health supplement brand Bare Biology. She lives in Brighton with her husband Clive, a finance manager, and their children Grace, 11, Otto, nine, and Stella, seven
5.45 I’ve been dozing since my husband got up 15 minutes ago. I shower, then massage in body lotion and moisturiser.
6.00 My make-up is my armour – without it I’m not prepared for the world. First it’s a Nars foundation and finishing powder; then a Laura Mercier base for my eyelids and a Laura Mercier eyeshadow, and finally Nars eyeliner and Hourglass mascara.
6.20 I put on nice jeans with a grey or navy cashmere jumper and blazer. I like Massimo Dutti, LK Bennett, Zara and Uniqlo.
6.30 Builder’s tea and two fried eggs with smoked salmon or mackerel. Gulp down several glasses of water, take a teaspoon of fish oil and a couple of probiotic capsules.
7.00 Drag the children out of bed. Their uniform and school bags were put out the night before, but there’s often an upset.
Jeans are Melanie’s go-to staple
7.20 Make my lunch for the office – usually a salad with lentils, avocado, sardines or chicken breast, with olive oil and lemon juice. Sky News is on while the kids eat breakfast. I also prepare their school snacks – seaweed or carrots.
7.40 Clear up the kitchen. I can’t bear to leave it in a mess.
7.45 In the car for school, I threaten the kids with Radio 4 – they want Ariana Grande.
8.00 The children leap out at the school gates. I listen to dance music on the drive home – it’s meditative.
8.20 Back home, I do a ten-minute meditation with the Headspace app. Then walk to work.
9.00 Arrive at work full of ideas.
BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin
Louise Minchin, 49, co-hosts BBC Breakfast, which is watched by 6.5 million people every morning. She lives in Chester with her husband David and their two daughters, Mia, 16, and Scarlett, 12
3.30 The alarm goes off and I bounce out of bed. I used to set my alarm for 3.46am and feel really tired all morning, but Nick Littlehales, a sleep guru to the stars, told me I had been waking up during the deep phase of my sleep cycle. I try to be in bed by 9.30pm.
3.31 Check my phone for breaking news, and scroll through my emails to see if the Breakfast team has scheduled any last-minute interviews.
3.40 After a super quick shower, I jump into my clothes, which I lay out the night before. I choose and buy all my work clothes (usually from The Pretty Dress Company, Matilda & Quinn and Libby London) and often wear long necklaces from ChloBo, Boho Betty or Vixi Jewellery.
For Louise, part of starting her day is donning a long necklace
3.50 Trot downstairs and pat my dog Waffle, who is still asleep. Breakfast is oats with milk, greek yoghurt and blueberries, which I mix up and take to work.
3.58 Check on my daughters. I try not to wake them, but leave a silly message on the whiteboard in Scarlett’s bedroom. My husband runs his own business and will take them to school.
4.00 Leave the house. My rabbits Bumble and Bee, who are kept outdoors, try to follow me out of the gate, so I distract them with food. Take a taxi to work and plug my earphones into my HumanCharger, a device that channels bright lights into my brain to make me think it is daytime. It works!
5.00 At the studio in Salford, I head for the BBC Breakfast desk and say a very cheery hello.
5.05 Brief editorial meeting to discuss the day’s main story.
5.15 Go into make-up. Pop my contact lenses in and slurp a cup of tea. Read the papers and my interview notes, and eat breakfast.
5.53 Grab my earpiece and heels to match my outfit but I walk barefoot to the studio to rehearse the headlines as I hate walking in heels. Seven minutes later, we’re on air.
Talent agency CEO Caroline Michel
Caroline Michel, 58, is CEO of literary and talent agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop. Her clients include Ruby Wax, Bear Grylls and Jeanette Winterson. She has three children, Tom, 25, Merlin, 23, and Mabel, 21, and lives in West London
4.30 Wake up naturally and read manuscripts in bed. It’s heaven in summer when it’s light, and rather cosy in winter. I don’t need much sleep – I’m rarely in bed before 1am. Sleep is such a terrible waste of time.
6.30 The alarm goes off. I listen to Radio 4’s Today and get furious about the news and what’s happening in the world. Respond to any urgent emails.
6.45 I wash, and throw on some comfortable clothes before taking my two schnauzers, Marni and Miuccia, for a walk. They show such enthusiasm it always perks me up.
7.30 Back home I change for work. It takes minutes as I plan what to wear the night before –invariably a Dolce & Gabbana dress and my grandmother’s jewellery. I keep it simple.
By 7.30am Caroline has sent emails and walked the dogs
7.40 Apply a little lipstick and eyeliner – I don’t have the patience or skill to put more make-up on. As it is, cleaning my teeth is the most boring thing in the world – I normally read at the same time.
7.45 Merlin is interning and living at home – I can’t leave the house until I’ve tortured him out of bed. I yell at his door, ‘It’s time to get up!’ If that doesn’t work I kiss him.
7.50 Skim The New York Times and The Guardian to read what people are thinking. I don’t feel like eating, but I knock back a multivitamin for women over 50.
8.00 Walk to work and ring my closest friends – Ruthie Rogers, co-founder of The River Cafe, and Philippa Walker, a television director – on the way. Grab a coffee or an orange juice en route.
8.30 Arrive at work after a heavenly morning of children, friends, work – everything I love before the day really begins.
Reverend Marie-Elsa Bragg
Reverend Marie-Elsa Bragg, 53, is the duty chaplain of Westminster Abbey and a writer and novelist. She lives alone in North London
5.15 I love early mornings and am usually awake when my alarm goes off.
5.20 Still slightly dreamy, I do a basic hatha yoga routine in silence in the study. It gives me a sense of calm.
5.45 I read a few lines of a poem or Biblical text, or look at an image. I call this my meditative prayer. I don’t think about its meaning. It’s more a case of waiting. It makes me feel present, and open to an inner dialogue. It helps me work things out.
6.00 Sit at my desk, overlooking an oak tree, and write. I describe something that catches my eye, such as the light on a leaf. It takes me into a more creative space.
7.00 A change of pace – I leap into the shower. My writing is still permeating. Sometimes I jump out to scribble something down.
7.15 Getting dressed takes very little time. When I’m working as a priest, it’s a long black skirt, a white shirt and a waistcoat. My robes are kept at the church. As one of the first female priests, I designed my own outfit with the suffragettes in mind. I also wear a cross and a little medallion Madonna, then after a quick lick of mascara I’m done.
For breakfast Marie-Elsa has an anything-that-is-in-the-fridge smoothie
7.20 Chuck some carrots, lemon, ginger and whatever fruit and vegetables are in the fridge into my juicer for breakfast.
7.30 On priest days, I walk to the station rather than take the bus. It helps me notice the day. If I am off to a parish, I muse over the text for the daily service. When I am on duty at Westminster Abbey, I think about the seven contemplative prayers I have prepared for the day. Sometimes I listen to Radio 4 on my headphones, or an audiobook. I only check my phone and emails once I’m out of the door. If it’s a writing day, I’ll go back to my desk and write until midday – the wider world can wait.
- Marie-Elsa’s latest novel, Towards Mellbreak (Chatto & Windus, £12.99), is out now. To order a copy for £10.39 until 15 October, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15
Cake designer Georgia Green
Cake designer Georgia Green, 26, has baked for Cara Delevingne and Suki Waterhouse and her business, Georgia’s Cakes (@georgiascakes), has nearly 78,000 Instagram followers. She lives with her boyfriend Ilia, a dancer, in Northwest London
8.00 Ignore my alarm – I used to get up at 5.15am for bakery shifts but now I work from home and try to lie in. I’ll log into Instagram and Facebook and WhatsApp my family while still in bed.
8.30 Take a shower while Ilia pops out for bagels, then I make myself a black coffee. I work late, often designing cakes at 9.30pm, so I need it.
8.45 Apply concealer to hide the bags under my eyes and some mascara – I use Mac and L’Oréal. I wear make-up even if I’m planning to stay in – if I head out later, I might bump into someone. It’s jeans and a top for baking but I like to look presentable, as though I’m starting the day in an office.
9.10 Eat the bagel Ilia bought topped with avocado, while in front of my laptop sending emails I’ve drafted the night before (I try not to send anything after 10.30pm because it looks crazy to email so late). Read the BBC website or MailOnline, and browse Facebook.
9.30 Consult my schedule, which is written in a paper diary. I make up to five cakes a week. They’re bespoke; some have multiple tiers, and I make all the decorations (giant lollipops, meringues and macaroons) from scratch. They’re also all at different stages, so I’m waiting for bases to rise as well as toppings to dry. Each one can take three or four days to finish.
To look her best when she is baking Georgia looks to Mac
9.35 An order from Amazon Prime of unusual ingredients such as French butter arrives. Sometimes I might pop to Sainsbury’s to buy any last-minute supplies.
10.00 Baking begins. I like having the radio on for company – LBC to get me thinking, Radio 2 as a treat.