Oh how I wish I still had the luxury of sleeping in until 11am and still being on time to my noon class like back in college. Well, life goes on and here I am waking up well before dawn to get breakfast ready for my kids, pack lunches, power through emails before getting my kids to school on time and get myself to the office for that important 9am meeting. I know that most of my friends and colleagues face the same struggles I do. With so many things to get done in the morning, how can you manage your time effectively and still tick everything off of your list of to-do’s? With some simple planning you can get yourself ahead of the game and give yourself a few more minutes each morning to move at a slightly slower pace and feel less stressed going into your day. Read on to find my top tips for taking back your mornings.
1. Buy a dry erase board and make lists
If you aren’t somebody who is used to relying on to-do lists, this is the time to start. Buy a whiteboard and hang it in your kitchen. Every evening check your board and list all the things you need to do in the morning. As your kids come home from school list their homework and chores, make notes on what you need to grab from the grocery store for dinner, and list your other to-do’s here. In the morning you’ll be able to look in one place and know exactly what needs to get done before you walk out the door.
2. Set your coffee on a timer
I used to make fancy pour-over coffee each morning before I had kids, but now I just don’t have time to make coffee this way on weekdays. If you don’t have one already, you can get a coffeemaker with a timer for less than $40. Just grind your beans and pop them in the filter, fill the machine with water, and set the timer for about 15 minutes before you set your morning alarm. This will save you at least 5 minutes in the morning prepping your coffee. You can also switch to iced coffee or cold brew so all you have to do is grab your coffee out of the fridge and pour over ice and head out the door.
3. Build fast, healthy breakfasts
There are a number of ways to tackle breakfast that will ensure it’s both fast and healthy. Make oatmeal in bulk and portion it out for the week then just add a little milk and microwave for a quick breakfast. You can make breakfast burritos in bulk and keep them in the fridge to warm up as well. Of course there are always boxes of cereal, but I know that I enjoy a warm breakfast but hate cooking and doing dishes first thing in the morning. By planning and cooking ahead you can tackle this problem without much effort.
4. Pack lunches the night before
We’ve all had that morning where everything seems to be going great then all of a sudden you realize that you forgot to pack lunches for your kids and you’ve only got 10 minutes to get them to school on time. Avoid this kind of panic by packing lunches the night before you can make sure that you and your kids have lunch ready to go and can just grab it and go on your way out the door.
5. Find an ironing alternative
Pulling out the iron in the morning to press wrinkled clothes takes a ton of time. Luckily there are a couple solid options to help you get rid of wrinkles without the work of ironing. There are a number of brands of wrinkle releaser solution you can pick up at your grocery store in the laundry detergent aisle that work wonders. These are easy to use, smell great, and will fix wrinkles in just a couple minutes. If you’re not a fan of chemicals then you can invest in a handheld clothes steamer. This small machine will blast your wrinkles with hot steam and leave your clothes looking fresh.
6. Check your email once, and walk away from your phone
It is so easy to get caught up in emails once you start checking them, but being glued to your phone can totally derail your morning routine. The best way to solve this problem is to check your phone once right as you wake up, then put it down and walk away until after you’ve left your house. Realistically there is nothing that you’re going to miss while working through your routine that can’t wait a few extra minutes so you get everything done that needs to be completed.
7. Rethink your makeup
While this doesn’t apply to the men reading this, for women applying makeup can take a significant chunk of time in your morning routine. Think about what you’re doing and consider whether you really need to go to all that effort every day for work. Chances are you can get away with doing your makeup in just a few minutes by using only foundation, mascara and lipstick.
8. Shower the night before
I love my morning showers because they help wake me up and let me feel like I’m hitting my day fresh. However, you can always shower the night before and avoid this time in your morning routine. Try taking your shower the night before and in the morning just wash your face with cool water and a face cleanser then move on with your routine.
9. Choose clothes the night before
You do it for your kids, so why not do it for yourself? Take a look at your closet the night before and pick out the pieces of the outfit and set them out. It’s just one less thing to worry about in the morning and it’ll save you a few minutes that you can spend on other things or just going about your morning feeling a little less hectic.
10. Keep your keys, purse, and wallet in the same place
This one seems easy but until I really thought hard about it I had trouble keeping my stuff in one place. Getting home from a long day you might feel a little frazzled and just drop your purse or wallet and keys wherever and plop down in your favorite chair for a quick breather before cooking dinner. The problem is that in the morning you forgot exactly where you put your stuff and then you’re running around trying to find the items you need to get out of the house on time. Just keep your keys, wallet, and purse in the same place every time you put them down as you come home from work. This can save time and keep you feeling calm and in control of your morning.