Charlotte Business Owners Share Their Morning Routines & Productivity Hacks

Selenite Beauty
Charlotte Business Owners - Tiffany Parrish of Selenite Beauty

Charlotte business owners let us inside their heads to tell us their best tips for morning routines and their productivity hacks for success at work.

Tiffany Parrish of Selenite Beauty

For productivity, I find I am most productive when I  prioritize my to-do list the night before and timeblock my calendar. Since the start of the pandemic, things have been very unpredictable and I rarely get a significant amount of time without the kids around, so I have to be strategic about what are the top items I need to get done the next day and what time will I block off to complete this. This includes everything from time at the store to emails to squeezing in a quick yoga session at home. 

Natasha Adams of Premier Patio

“We usually start our day by reading an encouraging passage. This helps us to bemotivated and have a positive outlook. We also find that setting a daily routine and listing what needs to be accomplished during the day keeps us focused and more organized.”        


After getting the kids ready for their day, I always try to squeeze in some time for myself before jumping into work. This includes mediation, reading a bit, and breakfast. After, I take our two dogs for a walk while listening to one of my favorite podcasts. While I’m not always able to fit all of these things in every day, I find that the days I consciously make the time and effort for at least one (such as meditation), are far better than the days I simply dive into the to-do list.

Clary Hilliard Gray, Co-Founder of Hilliard Studio Method

My morning routine during the time of COVID-19 is best described as unpredictable! To stay grounded and poised in this chaotic time, my best days begin before anyone in my house is awake. In the quiet I read, think, write, research, focusing on big picture or personal goals, over a cup of lemon water with cayenne and then onto coffee. Then if the family is still sleeping, I may even sneak in a Hilliard Studio Method Express streaming workout (AirPods are key here!)

Dovy Klarberg

Dovy Klarberg of Diamonds Direct

I wake up between 5 am-6 am, depending on the day and start each day with a good shower. Next, I enjoy my first cup of coffee while going over last night’s emails. I first look if there’s any urgent issue regarding the operation I need to be aware of or customer issues that require my involvement. I’m addicted to ongoing improvement, in everything I do in life and especially when it comes to Diamonds Direct because I take a lot of pride building a leading company in the jewelry industry. I always put DD customers experience above all. I truly believe that our team is the most important asset and resource. Time for my second cup of coffee while I invest at least 30 minutes reading something inspiring and motivational. Each morning, I send a good morning email or WhatsApp to my leadership team to start the day energized. I spend 50 minutes in the gym 3 – 4 days week. I arrive no later than 8:30 am at the store, ready to charge for the day.

Liz Hilliard, Co-Founder of Hilliard Studio Method

After a quiet 5-15 minute meditation before I get out of bed which starts with stilling my mind and setting my intent for the day, I head straight for my morning matcha tea and a pink lady apple sliced up in delicious little bites for a slow burn wakeup. I’m not a morning person but since my business is, I have found small ways to allow my body and mind the time they need to start my day balanced and grounded. This generally requires waking up at least two hours before I need to be anywhere. Two cups down and I’m ready for my HSM smoothie. I’ve literally been drinking a version of this for over ten years! It’s basically the high dose of lean protein, good fat, phytonutrients, fiber and fruit blended up in a delicious concoction I call Jet Fuel. We sell all the ingredients at Hilliard Studio Method as well as frozen if you want to give it a try.

Jami Svay, Celebrity Makeup Artist

Once I hit my alarm for the third time I get up, immediately make my bed so I’m not seduced to get back in it and I start my day. My favorite part of my morning routine is washing my face. I’m ready to conquer the world after that.

Myron Greer of Myron Greer Garden Design

My mornings start with a MWF morning swim and a TTH work out in the gym to clear my head and keep my body and mind healthy.  Afterwards daily, I walk my garden to see what is newly emerged or in flower.  This walk is generally when I fertilize and light prune.  This keeps me grounded (no pun) in the day and focused on my work while maintaining clarity.

Leah Ward of Closet & Storage Concepts

I’m usually up between 6 to 6:30. Hydration is key for me, so 16oz of water before caffeine is a must. Then, with a warm matcha or coconut milk latte in hand, I enjoy reading something inspiring and positive to jump start my mood for the day. Currently, I’ve been into The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. It has totally redefined the meaning of Stoicism for me.

On productivity, for me, keeping a list of tasks in order of priority helps to keep procrastination or forgetfulness at bay. I try to address things in the moment as much as possible without veering too far off course. If I’m not able to get to something by the end of my day, it’s at the top of the list the following morning.  

Amy Vermillion

Amy Vermillion, of Amy Vermillion Interiors

I’ve made a lot of changes since the pandemic and one of them is my morning routine. I used to wake up and immediately check my phone. It was really the worst thing to do since my brain went into work/news mode before I could even greet the day. Now I take the time to pray, meditate and have a quiet cup of coffee before I start the work day. Setting my intentions for the day and having a moment for gratitude has completely changed my mindset and how my day goes from there. When I get into my office I will check my emails, respond to any issues and meet with Kat (my right hand gal) to go over our plan.

One of the biggest productivity hacks I can offer is time blocking. As a creative I can get hyper focused on a project task and hours can go by and my schedule can turn upside down. Time blocking allows me to assign a certain amount of time to each task and I stop when that time is up. If the task isn’t finished when the time allotted is up, I need to find another time block to finish. Scheduling free time in my day can accommodate this and allows me flexibility which is crucial to the success of a designer in construction. There are days when I have to pivot and be on a job site for an unforeseen issue. If I scheduled everything too tightly, I wouldn’t be able to be available to our trades when they need my guidance. Time is the one thing you cannot buy and we all have the same amount. But you can manage it effectively and time blocking has become my secret weapon. I also think it’s important to schedule time for self care- whatever that means for me. We are human beings, not human doings and time to recharge is crucial to well being. I’m writing this while sitting at the beach and up until a few years ago I used to answer emails and respond to work while on vacation. This isn’t truly a vacation and it does nothing to refresh me. Now, I let everyone know ahead of time that I’m checked out and I trust that my team will handle everything while I’m away. It has been a total game changer. I come back to work creatively rested and charged back up. And my daughter loves that she has my undivided attention. A rested designer is a creative designer

Rebecca Adams Starrs of Helen Adams Realty

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a [wo]man healthy, wealthy and wise.” My dad quoted this to us so often growing up that at some point it stuck. A morning routine inclusive of exercise with my dog to enjoy the beauty of Charlotte has been essential to giving me a moment to step away from it all. Working in a family business, the lines between work and personal life can be a little blurry. Time blocking and mental reminders to be present keep me from tipping the scales too far in either direction and allow me to really zero in on the task at hand. Whether that’s talking to a client, sorting through email, or spending time with family, I try to be all in.

Nicole Sodoma of Sodoma Law

I just bought one of my sons a CLOCKY. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an alarm clock that you have to chase around the room when the alarm sounds. I am really looking forward to using it when school starts.  My house starts to wake up around 6:15AM.  First, I go see my furry four legged roommates –  two truffle dogs named GiGi & Cody. Dogs really are a woman’s best friend, which they remind of every morning when they pounce on me as soon as they see me. A combination of both pure unconditional love and the fact that they probably have to pee, one pushes me from behind and the other grabs the tie of my robe. Seriously. All the way to the door. Once they are outside, I make my coffee – in peace.  My coffee is an anchor in my morning routine, and not just because of the caffeine. I’ve been drinking the same coffee for over a decade: French vanilla creamer and a dash of cinnamon. When I take my first sip of coffee, I savor the last thirty seconds of peace and quiet I’m going to get for the day (parents will understand this). Then, I get ready to help my three boys start their day. I pull every single breakfast food item from the freezer, refrigerator and cabinet and put them all on the counter. I brace myself and yell “Alexa Good Morning” as the first of three rounds the corner of the stairs.  Alexa proceeds to give us the headlines, weather and plays our favorite song of the week – or my backup reggae. Eventually, all three boys join me in the kitchen and we are making breakfast(s) and lunches, I am answering a million questions, and for some reason I can no longer find my coffee. Right before we get ready to pack-up for school we ask Alexa to review our calendar for the day. Sometimes, it feels like it takes Alexa 15 minutes to review our calendar –  but, that is what happens when you’re a business owner and a mother to three boys, two dogs (and four fish). While we are in the car, I tell them the same thing every morning, this year it will be – “It’s a great day to have a great day!” After I drop them off at school, I return home for a quick workout, shower, and then run out the door (usually 5 minutes late) to my first meeting of the day.  As I rush out the door and jump into my car, this year I will whisper to myself, “It’s a great day to have a great day.” And it’s off to the races…

Vicky Mitchener of Dickens Mitchener

Every morning I start my day reading the Wall Street Journal and Charlotte Observer online with my coffee and Labrador. I like to exercise in the morning by walking in the neighborhood or riding the Peloton Bike, it is a great time to think. To keep me focused I use outlook and the reminder app to direct my day. I have found that these help keep me accountable to accomplish my goals.

Beth Keim of Lucy & Co

Morning routine …. Lol! I wish to have one, but I am pretty boring. 5:30 am I do my coffee and emails, maybe a shower, and then by 9 am I start running all over town. The end!

Charlotte CPA
Nesha Pai, a Charlotte business owner and CPA, on work and life during quarantine.

Nesha Pai Singer of Pai CPA

I work across the hall (the benefits of having a home office and working remotely) so I wake up around 7 am, which is so nice. I don’t have to worry about an office commute and that time alone has increased my productivity. I say my prayers, do a short stretch, check social media, brush my teeth and head down to make coffee and breakfast. After eating breakfast and tending to my emails that need attention that day, I hop in the shower and dress up for the events of the day.

It is important to dress up especially if you work from home, as it increases productivity, as if you were in an actual office building environment. Either way, I give myself 30 min-1 hour before I head down to get breakfast going. For my productivity, I set a schedule and stick to it. Also, if you work from home, create a beautiful isolated space where you can focus. Environment is a huge productivity factor. I like to listen to music while working, so stick your airpods in and get lost in the zone!

Stacee Michelle
Photo by Jamey Price

Stacee Michelle, Wardrobe Stylist

I’ve been taking a walk at 6:30 a.m. to avoid the summer heat. I throw on athletic wear, Nike 270’s, drink a glass of water, and grab one of many face masks to coordinate before heading out. Once home, pour over coffee is a must! I am currently loving Joe Van Gogh’s bold Kenyan French Roast. Breakfast usually consists of an everything bagel, oatmeal, or pancakes with fresh fruit.

After showering, setting my weekly priorities is the most important part of my morning. For planning and scheduling I use iCal, but I also live in iReminders to keep track of important tasks for the day. My typical WFH attire is comfortable jeans and a tank top. By 9am, I’m ready to begin my workday.

As for a productivity tip, starting with self-care is the best strategy for tackling any day. The time I carve out for myself varies, but I enjoy activities like reading, walking, yoga or sipping coffee in silence. This grounds me for the day before gearing up to work on client projects. You can’t serve from an empty vessel, so be sure to fill your cup first!