Phoebe Watt trials the time-saving techniques of professional power preppers
I’m not disorganised and don’t struggle to be at work by 8:30am. However, I’m always open to doing things a little better, so ‘power prepping’ – the new phenomenon that’s seeing people re-jig their morning and evening routines for maximum efficiency – was something I had to investigate.
On the path to self-improvement I exercised at dawn, slept in a full face of makeup, and ate breakfast before bed. I was the highest-functioning version of myself… or was I?
Early bird yoga at Studio Red, Auckland
My alarm goes at 5:15am. It sounds somehow less obnoxious than usual, and despite having missed out on an hour of sleep, I’m instantly alert. Will this Zen transformation be easier than I thought? Workout gear on and teeth cleaned I skip out the door, arriving at Studio Red’s 5:45am hot yoga class with moments to spare.
Class is tough. The heat I can handle, but I’m not flexible, so for someone who doesn’t work out that often, it’s quite a stretch. Nevertheless, tangling my sweaty limbs into a series of misshapen pretzel forms, I can’t deny how awake I feel – and all without a drop of coffee.
Class finishes at 6:45am and thanks to Studio Red’s close proximity to work, I’m at my desk – face on, hair done – at 7:45am. With 45 uninterrupted minutes to do the admin that I’ve been putting off all week, I finally learn how it feels to start the day with an up-to-date task list. Why aren’t more people doing this? When it hits 9:30am and it occurs to me I still haven’t had a coffee, I consider making this milestone a PSA via the intranet.
Although a key benefit of exercising at dawn is that you are at work when you’d normally still be blow-drying your hair, Studio Red owner Vicky Cullinane emphasises that an early morning yoga class will also set you up mentally for whatever the day might throw at you. As if the universe was in on the experiment, my day did not go smoothly. However, things that would ordinarily have ruffled my feathers were like water off a duck’s back.
Come home time I was an early-start evangelist. Only Fashion Quarterly creative director, Marcel Gull, was unimpressed – turns out I’m a little more fun when I’m a little less centred.
I might have had some Zen left in me at 5:30pm, but by 6:30pm I was sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor eating chips straight out of the bag while a pot of pasta boiled on the stove. I’m now a believer in early morning exercise, but I believe building it into my routine will be an adjustment process.
Likelihood to try again: 80%
Makeup before you wake up
I haven’t slept in makeup since my first year of university, so what I’m about to do has me questioning how much my job means to me. I decide it means just enough.
At 9:30pm, with the day’s grime removed and a cleansed canvas to work with, I apply my makeup afresh. It’s a mind-over-matter game. My skin won’t know the difference between a serum foundation and a night serum, will it?
By the time I’ve painted on a perfect cateye, the product count has reached 17, then on goes the setting spray. After a couple of Snapchats to my team, I’m tucked up in bed with my head on an old pillowcase.
The next morning, the reflection in the mirror floors me. Apart from some rogue eyeliner, my face is flawless. I powder my nose and forehead, re-curl my lashes and give myself one last spritz of setting spray, then I’m out the door 45 minutes early. At work, everyone agrees that my face is practically pristine.
By lunchtime it has gone the other way – I have a bumpy forehead and feel like some blotting papers wouldn’t go astray. From a distance, though, everything is very much intact.
By 5pm there’s still nothing going on that a good Instagram filter wouldn’t fix, but I’m really looking forward to a wash. My mascara feels crumbly and it’s making my eyes itchy. FQ beauty editor Lucy Slight douses me in a refreshing mist to see me through until home time, which it does, but barely. If I’d had makeup wipes in the car, I would have begun the removal process in the carpark.
Sleeping in my makeup wasn’t as traumatising as anticipated, but I didn’t eliminate a job, I just reallocated it. If I was catching a flight at an ungodly hour, the prospect of rolling myself and suitcase out the door (with all my cosmetics safely stowed inside) might justify the madness. Might.
Likelihood to try again: 10%
Breakfast before bed
I love a late-night snack. Most evenings I haven’t even polished off my last bites of dinner and I’m already thinking about what I can eat next. I would happily graze right up until bedtime so I often brush my teeth early just to stop myself. But tonight is different. Tasked with eating breakfast before bed, I’ve never felt less hungry.
There’s a theory touted by some that consuming a breakfast smoothie in the evening will nix the need for your actual breakfast. Not being the biggest smoothie fan, though, my go-to of eggs on toast will have to suffice. As the clock ticks 9pm I nauseously place two slices of Vogel’s in the toaster. Battling through both slices 10 minutes later, all I can think is this will never work. I live for breakfast. I’m still going to wake up hungry, I know it.
I don’t wake up hungry, but there’s a fatal flaw in the plan. I still have to assemble my lunch and as I normally do this while my toast cooks, I’m saving no time by skipping breakfast. It gets worse. I arrive at work (slightly early, but not significantly), and notice I’ve packed my sandwich ingredients but, in the absence of a toast prompt, I’ve forgotten the bread that holds it all together. And yes, I know, I eat a lot of bread. Shout-out to carbs.
The experiment isn’t a complete failure. My hunger level is exactly what it is on a normal day. But the nauseating experience has put me off eggs on toast – possibly for life – and what’s convenient about that?
Nutritionist Sharon Erdrich from House of Health says there are too many variables at play to validate the adage ‘eat after eight, put on weight’. But I won’t be rescheduling future breakfasts to see if it’s true in my case – especially as my multitasking ways meant I didn’t save an impressive amount of time.
Likelihood to try again: 0%
1. Paperwhites from The Botanist. 2. Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Foundation SPF 25, $105. 3. Ruby eye mask, $15. 4. Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Corrector, $82. 5. Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Touch-up brush, $64. 6. Bobbi Brown Foundation Brush, $70.