On any given weekday, you can find me at 6 a.m. on the set of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” diving into the news of the day, while looking and feeling — I hope — sharp, energized and well-rested.
People have asked me over the years how I pull this off every day, in many cases before the sun even rises. The truth is, it’s very difficult. No matter how many overnight or early morning jobs I’ve had, the long hours don’t get any easier, and the physical and mental strain is something I have to be conscious of.
Still, in the 11 years that “Morning Joe” has been on the air, I’ve picked up more than a few tricks to being “on” bright and early. And while waking up and getting to the studio every day is still hard, I can say with confidence that I have my morning routine down to a science.
The big challenge for me, of course, is getting enough sleep. My alarm goes off at 4 a.m., which, when you live an hour away from the studio, doesn’t leave much time for getting ready. Now, I know I’m lucky to work with amazing hair and makeup professionals. But trust me, no makeup in the world can replace sleep. So I try and push the envelope to get as much shut-eye as possible.
A car picks me up to take me to Rockefeller Center and I stumble from my house still in my pajamas. Once on the road, I — you guessed it — fall back asleep. I arrive at 30 Rock just before 5 a.m. and race upstairs to do everything, and I mean everything. I wash my hair at 30 Rock. I keep my clothes at 30 Rock.
Before bed, I try to do as much prep work as possible and read up on all the latest news. Alex Korson, our executive producer, briefs me on any overnight changes while I get my makeup done.
But first: coffee.
For breakfast, the only thing I have before the show is an extra hot, extra foam, double red-eye misto from Starbucks. It is truly a supersonic cup of coffee. But the thing that really wakes me up is the show itself, the fun on set with Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist and Mike Barnicle. We get to talking, and all of a sudden, it’s like a party. It drives my energy, so there’s no need for more caffeine (although I do need some oatmeal with honey by around 8 a.m.).
I’ve always been a morning person. As far back as I can remember, I would wake up really early just because I loved the freshness of the new day. But waking up early for work is another thing entirely.
As much as I love my job, I do miss having personal time in the morning, my favorite time of day. And it’s not like the news stops once the show ends at 9 a.m. My job requires round-the-clock care. So I make it a point to take sleep deprivation and mental health very seriously. In fact, I’ve been working with a doctor consistently on the way I channel my energy and my ability to sleep, which, when you work a shift like mine, is not something that is easily done on your own.
I don’t want to tell women this is an easy or glamorous process. Working crazy hours and burning the candle at both ends definitely has a price. I urge women — and men — who also work non-traditional hours to understand this takes a physical and a mental toll. It’s something you want to monitor and be careful about. Take care of yourselves and your work will be fulfilling.