How we spend the first few hours of our mornings can set the tone for the rest of our day. So when it came time to take a look at our own morning routines, schedules, and habits, we tapped our very own (and very busy) Ashley Merrill to see how the entrepreneur and mom of 2 sets herself up for the day. Though she spends much of her time thinking about rest, she has had to learn to balance her jam-packed work schedule with the right amount of family time and personal time so that she actually gets enough of each. Read on to learn more about her habits, productivity hacks, and routines that set her up for success.
Tell us about your morning routine.
I'm an "early to bed, early to rise person," so generally my day starts at 4 or 5 a.m. It's a calm time of day, so it's usually the time I get to my deep-thinking emails. I work in bed on my phone until about 7 a.m., when I get up, throw on Lunya layers and some moisturizer and go wake up the kids. My husband and I alternate days, but generally we make them breakfast and have them off to school by 7:35 a.m. I get back with just enough time to make a colossal jug of hot tea and start my 8 a.m. Zoom calls.
Do you have any daily habits that make you a better leader?
I work out five to six days a week. During Covid lockdown, I got in the habit of working out at home using YouTube trainers, and I've never turned back. My favorite trainers are Sydney Cummings, Caroline Girvan and Pamela Reif. Working out is a way to practice pushing myself — to build up physical endurance and emotional perseverance. This gives me the energy and strength to take on my day.
How much sleep are you getting? Do you wish you got more?
Of course, I wish I got more — I wish everyone got more. I spend many of my waking hours trying to make sure the world is better rested. Ironically I'm so obsessed with sleep because I've had a lot of waves of insomnia. For me stress, hormones and comfort are the biggest factors in getting rest. To manage my stress I try to stop working by 5 p.m. so I have time for my brain to wind down. I also do my best to track my hormone cycles, and before I ovulate I make my room as cool as possible and wear Cooldown Pima because I find I run super hot at that time. I sleep with nearly five pillows all around my body and between my knees. It's quite a process.
What is your daily uniform?
I wear Lunya to work every day. While on one hand, this is certainly a perk of the restwear biz, on the other hand, a lot of our pieces are easily blended into daywear — bringing comfort into day-to-day life while still looking put together. When I have a big meeting I might throw on a blazer, but generally, I'm all about the blend of comfort and style, so even that might be layered over a sweatshirt.
Any favorite productivity hacks?
I use my inbox as a to-do list and attempt to keep it under 20 emails. This is a bit intense, but it really helps me to feel focused and clear. I tend to knock out the short, easy emails the fastest and save the more complex ones for quiet, uninterrupted moments.
What's your favorite way to decompress after a long day?
I love hanging out at home with my family. Typically in the evenings my kids and I will wander to the garden and see if anything is ripe that might be delicious for dinner. Cooking with the kids now that they've gotten older has become a major wind-down for me.