Your alarm goes off. You hit snooze and then snooze again. Before you know it, you’re rushing to get out the door so you’re not late for the train or stuck in crazy traffic.
If this sounds like you, every morning can seem like a toss-up between sleep and being late to work. But you don’t necessarily have to choose. As a time-management coach, I’ve learned a thing or two about simplifying your morning routine so you can head out the door without stress and get to work on time, every time. Here are three of them.
1. Pack Everything The Night Before
Many trivial and routine activities can seem incredibly stressful when you’re under a time crunch, i.e., getting ready for work in the morning. Luckily, you can avoid feeling like this by doing what I call a “departure prep.”
Activities like packing your lunch, ironing your outfit, prepping your gym bag, and getting your kid’s backpack ready for school are all things you can plan to do the night before. If that sounds like a recipe for never getting to bed on time, try dedicating one day each week to lunch prep, another one to ironing your outfits, and so on–this way those chores don’t all get jammed into a single weeknight or end up staring at you every single morning for the rest of the week.
However you plan to tackle your departure-prep to-do list, getting these items checked off beforehand means there’s less to do in the morning and a lower likelihood of time-consuming delays.
2. Eliminate Or Limit Technology Time
If you find that you’re running late most mornings, your phone may be to blame. It’s easy to get wrapped up in reading articles or emails, and before you know it 30 minutes have whizzed by. So try to avoid looking at your phone until you’re completely ready to go–or just impose a consistent limit on the time you can spend on it. For example, set a vibrating alarm to go off when you need to get out the door.
You can apply the same strategy to your computer or TV. Both can slow you down significantly. Committing to a tech-free or tech-limited morning can get you up and out as quickly as possible.
3. Avoid Small Chores In The Morning
Mornings can seem like the only time to do small chores that are harder to plan for than the stuff you’d put on your departure-prep list–things like paying bills, washing dishes, doing last-minute laundry, or going through the mail. When small, not-so-routine tasks slip your notice in the evening, they can suddenly (and falsely) seem urgent in the morning.
To avoid this pattern, set aside some intentional time on the evenings, weekends, or your lunch break to get personal to-do items done. Consider devoting a certain evening each week, like Monday night, to pay bills and go through the mail. Or maybe throw in a load of laundry first thing after work so you can move it along during the evening. You can even set a rule that you don’t go to bed until the dishes are done (but will deliberately bypass any other niggling tasks in order to do them).
You don’t have to revamp your morning routine to take control–it just takes a few small changes to see dramatic results. If it’s hard for you to remember these tasks, put them in your calendar as a recurring event. Try incorporating just one small change to start, and once it becomes habitual you can add another. Slowly but surely, you’ll find yourself less rushed in the morning and ever more on time.