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  4. I followed Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel's morning routine for a week. I finally understand the appeal of waking up early.

I followed Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel's morning routine for a week. I finally understand the appeal of waking up early.

Mykenna Maniece   

I followed Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel's morning routine for a week. I finally understand the appeal of waking up early.
(L) Evan Spiegel in 2023; (M) Screenshot of the time 5 a.m.; (R) BI reporter Mykenna Maniece.Steve Granitz/Contributor/FilmMagic; Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider
  • After failing to replicate the routine of Apple CEO Tim Cook, I was ready to try something new.
  • I tried following the morning routine of Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel.

I'm a recent college graduate, and many of the stereotypes about my age group involve partying, excessive drinking, and hanging out with friends. The reality, though, is a bit bleak: Gen Z is lonely, drinking less, and splurging more on their groceries than nights out.

However, after years of watching my favorite content creators share what it's like to "get their lives together" in their late 20s and early 30s, I'm inclined to think Gen Z might be onto something.

Call us overachievers or flat-out boring, but maybe we don't want to wait until we're 30 to build consistent, healthy routines we're happy with — I know I don't.

So, earlier this year, I made it my personal mission to curate an effective morning routine and started researching the special group of humans who seem innately more prepared to start their days than the rest of us: CEOs.

After some mixed results copying Apple CEO Tim Cook's morning routine for a week, I was determined to try something new.

Enter Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel.

Spiegel wakes up at 5 a.m. to check Snap, read his emails, and drink a double espresso before working out or meditating.

Spiegel wakes up at 5 a.m. to check Snap, read his emails, and drink a double espresso before working out or meditating.
Evan Spiegel at the Snap Partner Summit in 2019.      Neilson Barnard/Staff/Getty Images for Snap Inc.

Ideally, my morning routine would consist of a workout, breakfast, reading, and ample time for getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup. Luckily, I found that Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel likes the same things as me (minus the hair and makeup).

At 33, Spiegel is one of the youngest billionaires in the world with a net worth of $3.9 billion, per Forbes. He wakes up at 5 a.m. to check his app, read emails, and work out or meditate. Then, he showers, gets ready, and reads the news before having breakfast with his wife, Miranda Kerr, and their children at their mansion in Brentwood, California.

His routine aligns with what I'm looking for, and thanks to my previous experience with Cook's routine — which involved waking up at 4:45 a.m., strength training, and coffee — I knew what it would take to prepare for such an early start to the day.

Here's how it went.

I exceeded my expectations and was wide awake by 5:30 a.m. on Monday.

I exceeded my expectations and was wide awake by 5:30 a.m. on Monday.
I took a Snap of the time I woke up: 5:32 a.m.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

OK, technically, it was 5:32 a.m., but give a girl some credit.

In 2018, Spiegel said in an interview that appeared in the Entrepreneurship Handbook that he likes to wake up early to give himself some alone time.

"I get up really early, because that's the only time that's 'Evan Time' for me, when people aren't really awake yet. I get a couple hours between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. to do whatever I wanna do," he said.

So, to prepare, I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and even agreed to sacrifice my side of the bed for the week so I could more easily get to the alarm I share with my boyfriend.

I woke up right on time at 5 a.m. and redownloaded the Snap app since I haven't used it in years (sorry, Evan), but I accidentally "blinked" and woke up again at 5:32 a.m., this time wide awake.

Once I was out of bed, it was time to make coffee and work out.

Once I was out of bed, it was time to make coffee and work out.
One of the first things I did after I woke up was make a cup of coffee.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

I said a small thank you to the earlier version of me who had picked workout clothes the night before. I got dressed, put in my contacts, and made a cup of coffee.

Snap told BI that Spiegel likes to check the app and his email and drink a double espresso when he wakes up. Then, he'll exercise at the gym for 45 minutes or meditate.

I'm still a "coffee with my creamer" kind of girl, so I sipped my usual cup of coffee and checked my email and the updated Snap interface before scrolling through YouTube for a workout video.

I followed a Chloe Ting video that focused on arms, and afterward, I realized it felt really good to finish a workout so early in the morning.

I was pleasantly surprised by Spiegel's skincare must-have.

I was pleasantly surprised by Spiegel
Kora Organics turmeric brightening and exfoliating mask.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

Then, it was time to shower and try the part of Spiegel's routine I was most excited about: his face wash. Spiegel has been married to Kerr, a model and the founder of Kora Organics, since 2017, and he uses the brand's turmeric brightening and exfoliating mask.

"He doesn't use it as an actual mask; he keeps it in the shower and uses it as an exfoliant," Kerr told New Beauty in 2019.

"What he loves about it is that it has peppermint oil in it, so it's so invigorating. He says he can't be without it because it's his little boost of aromatherapy in the morning! It gives him energy!" she added.

According to Snap, he still uses it, so I wanted to see if it was worth the hype. I bought a 1-ounce tube, which cost $20.

First impressions: Wow, they weren't kidding — the peppermint is strong.

I loved the feel of the exfoliating particles and how smooth my skin felt afterward. The best way to describe the experience was as if the sensation of using mouthwash was on my face, which doesn't sound pleasant, but I found it to be very enjoyable and, yes, "invigorating."

My only issue with Spiegel's routine thus far was that he reportedly allots a mere 15 minutes to get ready after his shower.

I, meanwhile, am more of a "Vogue's Beauty Secrets" six-step skincare routine, try on a bunch of outfits, perform a mini concert while doing my hair, and listen to a podcast while doing my makeup kind of gal. So, 15 minutes? Couldn't be me.

But with ample time to spare after such an early start, I realized I didn't have to rush to complete all those steps immediately; I could sit, have breakfast, and even knock out some chores before going back to hair and makeup.

Waking up so early gave me time to finish my self-care routine, get ahead on chores, and read before work.

Waking up so early gave me time to finish my self-care routine, get ahead on chores, and read before work.
My Monday morning desk setup.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

I don't know if it was the bright sun shining through my windows or the earlier dose of caffeine, but after I ate my breakfast, I went on a superwoman cleaning spree around my apartment, washing dishes, starting a couple of loads of laundry, and wiping down my glass coffee table.

And I still had time to finish getting ready and read a Wall Street Journal article before clocking into work at 9 a.m.

A 10/10 morning.

On Tuesday, I maintained my momentum and didn't feel rushed at all, even though I had to commute.

On Tuesday, I maintained my momentum and didn
I started Tuesday morning with coffee and pilates.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

Day two also started strong.

I woke up at 5 a.m. and was out of bed by 5:30 a.m. to get dressed and head to my living room for another workout.

I made myself a cup of coffee and took a picture of the early moments of the sunrise over New York City before doing a Pilates workout and repeating one of the same Chloe Ting arm workouts from Monday. After that, I finished my coffee while watching a vlog before moving on to the rest of my routine.

Thanks to my early start, I had enough time to try on a few outfits, make my lunch, pack my work bag, and toast a bagel for breakfast without rushing, which is simply unheard of in my life.

I was out of my apartment by 8 a.m. and clocked in at 8:45 a.m., feeling incredibly satisfied. My one shortcoming of the morning was forgetting to read, but a win is a win.

On Wednesday, I tried Kriya meditation for the first time. Spiegel has called it "life-changing."

On Wednesday, I tried Kriya meditation for the first time. Spiegel has called it "life-changing."
My daily desk setup with my laptop, coffee, water bottle, and notebook.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

Wednesday was the first time I struggled to wake up on time. Despite taking my daily Snap at 5:11 a.m., I didn't get out of bed until 5:45 a.m. Given how sore I felt from working out the past two days, I decided Wednesday would be the perfect day to try Spiegel's other morning activity: Kriya meditation.

Spiegel told Vogue Australia in 2022 that his wife got him "hooked on Kriya meditation."

"On a good day, I can get 45 minutes in the morning to meditate, which is life-changing," he added.

In 2020, BI reported on the extensive benefits of meditation including better focus and concentration, reduced stress levels, and improved self-esteem and self-awareness.

On YouTube, I found a video entitled "Isha Kriya: A Guided Meditation For Health And Wellbeing | 15-Minutes" by the channel Sadhguru.

"Daily practice of Isha Kriya will bring health, dynamism, prosperity, and wellbeing. It is a powerful tool to cope with the hectic pace of modern life and empowers people to experience their lives to the fullest potential," the video displayed on the screen.

From my understanding after watching the video, one of the main features of Isha Kriya meditation is the practice of breathing while thinking, "I am not the body," and exhaling with the thought, "I am not even my mind."

I don't know if it's possible to be "bad" at meditating, but that's certainly what it felt like to me — a first-timer and chronic over-thinker.

While trying to focus on the space between my eyebrows and to think only of how "I am not my body," I was instead thinking about all the things I had planned for the day, how I would write about the experience, and how long it'd been since I started.

Although I wouldn't call this initial attempt at meditation successful, I think trying it was useful in helping me identify a weakness that makes it challenging to stay in the present.

I finished the meditation and proceeded with the rest of the routine, arriving at my office in time to grab a coffee and snack and read a bit of a WSJ article.

I started Thursday slow but still made time for a quick workout and breakfast.

I started Thursday slow but still made time for a quick workout and breakfast.
I had coffee and a bagel for breakfast.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

Unfortunately, I didn't feel well when I woke up, so I pushed off working out until around 7 a.m. I used the Kora Organics again in the shower before getting dressed to work from home. Rather than my usual hair and makeup routine, I skipped both, favoring a bun and a fresh face since I had no intention of leaving my apartment.

I had a bagel and coffee for breakfast and read some of Business Insider's latest stories before clocking in at 9 a.m.

The morning was a much more condensed attempt at Spiegel's routine, but I could truly feel the difference an adjusted sleep schedule makes. All week, I'd been going to sleep by 10:30 p.m. not by sheer force, but because I was naturally feeling tired.

Friday was the least productive day, but Spiegel's definitely onto something with "Evan Time."

Friday was the least productive day, but Spiegel
Me and my coffee.      Mykenna Maniece/Business Insider

On Friday, I wasn't feeling well again, so I got up around 7 a.m. and tried to do a quick five minutes of meditation.

Although this wasn't the routine I aimed for, I could still appreciate the impact of the little shifts I'd made in my mentality. Before this, I would've stayed in bed till 8-8:30 a.m. and just rolled from my bed to my laptop for work at 9 a.m., but with my improved sleep schedule and more disciplined mindset, I was able to get up an hour earlier and take some time for myself before jumping into the demands of the day, which felt like a huge win.

So, while the only Spiegel-related highlight of my morning was the face wash, I was optimistic about my ability to sustain these efforts going forward.

After a week of living like Evan Spiegel, I finally understand the appeal of waking up early.

After a week of living like Evan Spiegel, I finally understand the appeal of waking up early.
Evan Spiegel at the 9th Annual Breakthrough Prize Ceremony in 2023.      Taylor Hill/Contributor/Getty Images

In the weeks since I attempted to copy Spiegel's routine, I've continued using the face wash, sleeping by 10:30 p.m. and waking up by 7 a.m. at the latest, and I'm happy with my progress.

It's a stark contrast to how exhausted I felt after finishing Tim Cook's routine, which surprised me since both men wake up incredibly early.

Looking back, it's easy to see how important timing was in the outcome of both routines. When I completed Cook's routine, daylight-saving time had just started, causing me to lose an hour of sleep; my body never had a chance to adjust properly before being thrown into a completely new routine. By comparison, trying Spiegel's routine in mid-April allowed me to adjust and wake up shortly before sunrise.

Waking up at 5 a.m. is still unnecessary for my lifestyle, but I think the best part of trying a routine like this again has been learning how to be more disciplined. Of course, it would be easy to lay in bed for an extra 15 minutes — and trust me, sometimes I do — but if I know that getting out of bed will make me less rushed and stressed, what's the point in continuing to self-sabotage?

I've by no means mastered my mornings, but I think I've gotten one step closer to figuring out the puzzle, and that's good enough for now.

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