It’s usually a mad rush out the door every day to get the office, to that first morning meeting, or even to get your kids to school on time. Whether it’s a “Hurry up,” that we yell to our sleepy children or a personal feeling of “Where do I begin?” first thing in the morning, the time we have seems to always have us under pressure, be it 40 minutes or 2 hours. Below are some tips that I’ve adapted to my routine that have worked wonders, not only for me, but for my spouse and my children to give us a happier and more positive start to the day.
1. Prepare the Night Before. It’s no secret that being prepared is key to success. I lay out clothes with my kids (we make “little people” on the floor made out of their outfits) so they can just get up, get dressed, and make their way downstairs. My first stop in the morning, after 1–2 minutes of meditation, is the gym or the outdoors, so I also lay out my gym clothes, snack and a water bottle so that there are no decisions to make at dark-o-thirty. I just grab and go. Use this tactic for your outfit that you’ll wear to the office so that the morning doesn’t become a costume-changing adventure, which eats up time, creates mess and unnecessary stress.
2. Meal Prep. I always get told, “I wish I could eat the way you do. Your smoothie bowls and breakfast salads look so good but I just don’t have time to make them!” Yes, you do. I switch up my breakfast routine, although a good go-to is to load up the Vitamix with frozen fruit (try frozen sweet potatoes too!), protein powder and anything else I’ll want and put the blender in the freezer. That way, in the morning, I just have to grab the blender and mix away! Another tasty and nourishing breakfast is overnight oats because really, who has time to make oatmeal in the morning. Soak the oats overnight with a liquid of your choice and in the morning, just top with fruit, nuts or other superfoods. There are many recipes for overnight oats that will satisfy a sweet tooth while giving you the nutrients and protein to kick off a healthy day. The same goes for kids’ lunches if that applies to you. Have cut up fruit ready to go in their lunch containers and even pre-make sandwiches the night before.
3. Plan Your Workday the Night Before. After I put my kids in bed, I go into my office for just a few minutes to write down key goals and “to do’s” for the following day. This enables me to sleep better and have a game plan in mind. Apply these tactics for travel and commuting as well. For example, if it’s going to rain or you sit in traffic in the morning, plan the timing accordingly and plan to line up some phone calls for the car trip, or a podcast if that’s what gets you going. If your car is low on gas, plan to fill in the night before as it will be one less thing to do in the morning — I’ve learned from experience on this last one! Plan, plan, plan.
4. Train Your Kids to Work Before Play. It used to be that my kids would wake up and go watch TV and I spent the morning yelling at them to eat their breakfast, clean up, brush their teeth, and so forth! Trying to get a child to pay attention while they watch TV is about as annoying as trying to talk to someone while they stare at their smartphone. We have taught our children to wake up, get dressed (remember the “little people” on the floor), eat breakfast (sometimes even help with this prep), ensure that their backpacks are ready to go, have teeth brushed, shoes and socks on and only then, if there is 15–20 minutes to spare, they can play or watch a little TV. This has made a world of a difference, and the kids want to get everything done so quickly, that we end up having spare time and not feel so rushed.
5. Time Yourself and Make it a Game. I look at my watch and give myself 10 minutes to do a specific task, or more depending on what it is. I don’t rush, but I work efficiently and it becomes a kind of fun game. Whether it’s a quick email check, walking the dog, the length of your shower or how long it takes to do your make-up, give yourself a time limit and you’ll be less likely to multi-task and focus on the task at hand. I even timed myself to write this piece!
Some other quick and fun tips that have helped me or that friends have shared below:
· Finish your shower with a cold burst of water — it wakes you up and invigorates you
· Have your coffee prepped to go or on automatic timer so it’s ready for you as soon as you need it
· The dressed up ponytail. If you don’t have time for blow drying your hair, the high ponytail is a lifesaver and looks professional
· Have a morning make-up routine that’s efficient, and even one for extra busy mornings. (Mine is tinted moisturizer, some bronzer, a little mascara and some lip-gloss.)
· Have a place for the grab and go things — the keys to the car, the phones (ensure they are charged), your wallet, etc.
It takes awhile to nail a routine but routine is key and most important, understand that flexibility is ok, so do what pleases you for the day and try to give yourself a bit of buffer time by incorporating time saving hacks. Arriving early to places always feels good to me because it makes me calm and I feel as if I’ve accomplished something. While there will be times that you will be “in a hurry,” if you focus on being more efficient in the morning and work backwards from the time that you need to leave the house to plan your routine, it’ll make for a happier, healthier and more successful day.
Originally published at medium.com