On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
For actress, comedian and screenwriter, Mindy Kaling, hard work can usually be measured by her personal hygiene, or lack thereof. “There is a certain type of greasy hair that you get only when you are writing with no breaks,” she said in an interview with The Atlantic about creating The Mindy Project. “And I had it, big-time. If I breathed in deeply, I could smell my unwashed scent, and it was intoxicating. It smelled like hard work.”
Over the past two decades, Mindy Kaling has emerged as one of the most prolific stars in the entertainment industry. After first gaining recognition for her work on the US version of The Office, where she worked as a writer, executive producer and director, Kaling has gone on to create the Fox comedy series, The Mindy Project and NBC sitcom Champions; star in movies like Inside Out and Ocean’s 8; as well as publish two memoirs Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?
The connotations of hard work are not sexy, right? The connotation of hard work is that if you put in enough time and grind away, you’ll manage to succeed somehow. But the truth is that no one can be successful without the talent. Hard work is great, but when you are creative, there’s not a huge link between working hard and the muse that helps you create.Mindy Kaling: ‘You Have to Make Your Imprint and Get Your Coin’ | Glamour
During her time working on The Office, Kaling routinely put in 18-hour days due to her role as a writer and actor (she played Kelly Kapoor) on the show. While most of the writers on the series generally worked between 10am and 7pm, a 2011 New York Times profile revealed that Kaling had to be on set by 6am, while juggling her scenes on camera with the writers room.
Not that she minded the long hours. “I’d rather be in the writers’ room complaining about how overworked I am than in the Bahamas, where I’m like, What am I doing here? By Monday night of a long weekend, I’m getting stir-crazy,” she said in the profile. “Oftentimes, the show runner will be like: ‘Hey, we don’t need everybody to stay. Who wants to leave?’ I have never volunteered. What if this is the time when they make some great discovery or there’s this great line of jokes and I would have not been a part of that?”
In December 2017, Kaling welcomed her daughter, Katherine Swati. An interview with Shape revealed that the actress-writer was working up until the point she gave birth, and was back in the editing room and making conference calls just two days after delivery.
During her early days of motherhood, Kaling found that her years working long hours in the entertainment industry prepared her well for the lack of sleep that newborns usually bring along with them. “So the great thing about when I had a baby is that I don’t have a lot of horror stories about lack of sleep because I was already used to it from doing The Mindy Project, getting up between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m,” she told Glamour in 2019. “So now I get six or seven hours of sleep, and that feels good.”
There were a few surprises for Kaling though, namely how much attention a newborn would require. “I didn’t realize how tethered to my house I would be as a new mom,” she recalled. “I’d thought that I could bring the baby with me everywhere. I also couldn’t quite believe that every three hours I needed to be home to feed her.”
In between her various gigs and two children (she welcomed a son in September 2020), Kaling still manages to squeeze in four to five workout sessions per week. “I like to mix up my workouts: I’ll do a SoulCycle class, a strength-training class with my trainer, and yoga once a week,” she said. She also keeps an eye on her diet.
So on a typical day, I keep it pretty healthy. In the morning, I try to have eggs because they’re easy to cook even if you’re as bad at cooking as I am. I’ll poach an egg or two, have a third of an avocado and a piece of Ezekiel toast with butter. That fills me up for a really long time. I’ll have a big salad for lunch with chicken or fish on top. For dinner, if I’m home, I’ll cook something healthy like a piece of salmon with some spinach. But if I’m going out, I’ll order whatever I want and eat half of it.Mindy Kaling Shares Her Favorite Workouts and Her Approach to Losing the Baby Weight | Shape
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