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The MEL Man’s Morning Routine

Our staff on how long it takes them to get pretty before work

There are two mythical morning rituals typically ascribed to the American male: 1) Roll out of bed, put on whichever wrinkled clothes happen to be at the foot of your bed and hightail it to work with no time to spare; or 2) Don Draper that shit with a collection of metrosexual pillars — e.g., suit, tie, matching socks, cologne and all other sorts of accoutrements for the well-being and youthful appearance of their skin, face, hair, etc. — that take the better part of an hour to complete. Because the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, we decided to ask all of the guys on the MEL staff what their morning routine consists of. Here’s what they told us:

Andrew Fiouzi, Editorial Assistant: I usually wake up around 7 a.m., give or take an hour. Once I’ve managed to drag myself out of bed, I sit on the porcelain bowl and pray to the Poop Gods to make it quick and clean. Once that’s finished, I hop in the shower for about five minutes, mostly to condition my beard, wash my butt and balls and shampoo my hair. All done in no particular order. Immediately after the shower, I’ll slick my hair back with a brush, dry off and walk around my apartment for absolutely no reason other than I like to walk around naked — especially when I’m clean. I may at this point play a record or do a pushup. If it’s Friday, I’ll do both. This part of my morning ritual takes the longest at about seven or so minutes.

I have what you might call a uniform — black jeans or pants and tattered shirt du jour — so deciding which to wear takes all of 30 seconds. Once I’m dressed, I’ll brush my teeth, spray on some cologne and slide on some deodorant, after which I’ll put on my socks and shoes. Before leaving my apartment, I’ll run my fingers through my hair in the mirror and adjust any rogue points in my mane and spray a bit of coconut oil in my beard that’s still just a bit damp and press down with my hands to ensure it doesn’t look too Castaway. This takes all of five minutes. All said and done, it takes me about 15–20 minutes to get ready — half of which is spent wandering my apartment aimlessly in the nude.

Ian Lecklitner, Staff Writer: My morning routine isn’t much, since I prefer to clean up — that includes shaving, showering, moisturizing, shampooing and conditioning (praise be Moroccan oil) the unruly mop growing out of my head — after work, but here goes nothing:

Step 1: Roll out of bed around 8 a.m.

Step 2: Pee.

Step 3: Brush teeth.

Step 4: Get dressed. (My wardrobe includes a single pair of black jeans, a couple identical gray T-shirts, a basket of random black socks and a couple of pairs of black sneakers.)

Step 5: Fill up my water bottle.

From there, I tackle everything that happened on my phone over the course of the night as I rush out the door. All in all, my morning routine takes me 5 minutes or so. But there’s a good reason why I don’t care to pamper myself before work: It can take me upwards of 15 minutes to shampoo and condition my hair alone, then a whopping three or four hours for it to dry. It just makes more sense for me to take care of all that after work.

Jeff Gross, Social Editor: It takes me half an hour (give or take 5 minutes) from the moment I wake up to the moment I’m out the door. I’ve mapped out exactly what steps are required to get ready, and how long each should take: 10 minutes for my morning constitutional, 10 minutes to shower, 10 minutes to get primped and dressed.

I consider myself a model of efficiency — I’ll brush my teeth in the couple of minutes it takes for my shower to warm, for example. I also follow a very strict order of operations in the shower itself — shampoo (optional), conditioner, soap up body, rinse conditioner, and finally, a face-scrubbing.

In front of the mirror I think I’m pretty standard. I’ll moisturize, run a matte, medium-hold product through my hair so I don’t look like Lloyd Christmas and put some deodorant on. If my eyes are puffy, I have some eye cream an ex-girlfriend introduced me to. I leave most of my picking and blackhead hunting until the evening.

All the while, I’m considering what I’m going to wear to the office — both to ensure that as little time as possible is required for that part, and also so that I’m not blatantly wearing something I wore recently. Then it’s off to work.

Josh Schollmeyer, Editor-in-Chief: Everything about my morning is predicated on the shower. I’m currently a vagabond at my house — sleeping in a variety of places (couch, guest bed, marital bed) due to young children who don’t sleep in their own beds, an early call time (I like to be up by 6 a.m., everyone else in the household a couple of hours later) and the fact that I work late into the night (the only time things are quiet enough to think — either at home or at work). So because I don’t sleep much or in the same place, I never feel particularly rested in the morning. Nor do I allow coffee to shake me from my morning doldrums—a childhood coffee ice cream incident caused me to swear off the stuff in any form forever.

That’s work best left to the shower, anyway. It’s kinda my favorite place on Earth. I steam that shit up (I know, I know, it’s terrible for my skin), and stay in there for as long as my mind needs to roam/snap to (I know, I know, it’s terrible for the environment). I don’t ever really keep track, but if I had to guess, I’d say I’m in there at least 15 minutes every morning, probably longer. And I don’t ever leave until I’m good and ready, meaning I’m almost always running late. Or for the purposes at hand, squeezing in everything else I do in the morning — getting dressed, getting food, getting primped — in an infinitesimal amount of time.

Tim Grierson, Contributing Editor: I’m usually awake around 6 or 6:30 a.m. My wife sleeps later than I do, so I have the whole house to myself for about an hour or so. I get up, walk into my office, check emails, check Slack, check my texts, check Twitter, check Facebook, check my fantasy teams, check news — all the while streaming KEXP or sampling new stuff from Spotify. I go over my to-do list for that day, then look at what I have upcoming for the next couple days (work deadlines, appointments, friends’ birthdays or anniversaries, etc.).

By that point, my wife is up, and she gets in the shower. While she’s doing that, I’ll start thinking about what I’ll wear that day — which is really just me deciding which combination of button-down shirt and jeans I’ll put on. Years ago, Obama told Vanity Fair that he only wears gray or blue suits because “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” I’m not as busy as Obama was, but as someone who likes to be organized and busy, I respect the sentiment. I give myself five minutes tops to decide on an outfit.

When my wife gets done in the shower, I hop in. It takes me, maybe, 10 minutes. If it’s a day I need to shave, that’s another minute. Doing my hair is, perhaps, a three-minute process. From jumping in the shower to being ready to walk out the door, it’s 30 minutes. But before I go, I double-check email, Slack, Twitter, etc. one last time. If there aren’t any fires that need to be put out, I’m set to start my day.

C. Brian Smith, Staff Writer: I’m an anomaly of a gay man in that I don’t spend much time primping every morning. I shower every other day, post-Bikram yoga, after which I do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to shaving, moisturizing and requisite manscaping. It’s when my porous skin responds best to maintenance. As for the off days, there’s a quick swipe of Old Spice, brush of the teeth and comb through the hair and then I’m off — iced coffee and banana in hand — rocking out to NPR.

Nick Leftley, Director of Branded Content: I generally wake up around 5:30 a.m. when my 2-year-old slaps me in the face and updates me on the very important fact that the crayon she’s holding is blue. I then put on Peppa Pig for her (judge away, I need sleep), and she climbs up next to me to cuddle while I desperately claw my way back into 15 more minutes of sleep. Then my 7-month-old wakes up on the other side of me demanding breakfast with the grace and subtlety of a World War II air-raid siren.

Around seven, when all hope of rest is lost, I go into the bathroom. I poop — how long this takes depends on what I’m reading, quite honestly, and on situations like this:

I take anything up to 10 minutes in the shower, and on the off-chance I’m not sunburnt that day (yay, pale skin in L.A.), I scrub all over with what I call the “scratchy sponge,” which my wife informs me is actually an exfoliating sponge. But what the hell, scratchy sponge sounds slightly less emasculating.

Next, I slick my hair back while still wet with a tiny amount of hair cream, which takes a couple of minutes. (Around an hour later, when I’m at work and it’s completely dried, I’ll run my hand through it and it pops up all by itself into a glorious coif; it’s true, ask anyone.) I put on antiperspirant, brush my teeth and put moisturizer on my face. Getting dressed takes 5 or 10 minutes, depending how indecisive I am about my clothes, or how much I’m putting off helping out with the war zone going on down below in the kitchen, as the babies shriek at each other while feeding their breakfast to the walls and floor.

When I’m by myself, I can get up at 8:15 a.m. and leave the house at 9. When the rest of my family is home, from start to finish, it takes me three and a half hours. Kids are great.

John McDermott, Staff Writer: It mostly goes like so:

6:28 a.m.: Wake up earlier than desired, get upset about that.

7:28: Wake up slightly later than desired, regret not having gotten up an hour ago.

7:29: Pee.

7:30–8:30: Pick up phone. Check email, calendar, Slack, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Medium (in that order). Open The New York Times app, read the day’s news, despair about the state of the world. Check Deadspin. Check Twitter again. More news, more despair.

8:31: Finally leave my bed and ready myself for work. Take a quick body shower (I take a longer, more comprehensive shower each night). Brush teeth, wash face. Apply deodorant and moisturizer — how do you think I got this angelic glow? Get dressed in my standard uniform of jeans, untucked button-down, funky socks and sneakers. Give my hair its signature “organized chaos” look.

9:00 Pack gym bag. Download a podcast to listen for the ride. Drive to MEL, so I can make more internet for you lovely folks.