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5 ways to make mornings less stressful, from a time management coach

A rough morning can ruin your entire day. Here are the tips I share with my clients to make sure they get off to the right start.

5 ways to make mornings less stressful, from a time management coach
[Photo: Jorge Vasconez/Unsplash]

You snoozed your alarm one too many times, so your morning has been a frantic dash. You gave up on finding matching socks, forgot your lunch, almost missed your train, and arrived to your first meeting five minutes late, panting and needing to use the bathroom.

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It’s going to be a long day . . .

For some, this may be an occasional blip in an overall Zen morning schedule. But for others, this is a lifestyle. And it’s stressful.

As a time management coach, I’ve helped clients around the world to develop more peaceful, productive lives. One of the keys to success is a shift in how you approach your mornings. Here are five time management strategies I’ve found are successful:

Prep the night before

There’s a reason you’ve heard this advice before. Getting ready for the next day the night before helps everyone, but it’s especially helpful for night owls, or for those with packed mornings. In the evening, you can:

  • Make your lunch
  • Decide what to wear, and set it out
  • Pack your bag, including any important documents, a water bottle, and chargers
  • Look up directions to a breakfast meeting if it’s in an unfamiliar spot
  • Shower

Basically anything you can do before you go to bed streamlines the morning. This reduces the crunched, pressured feeling, the risk of forgetting items, and the chance of running late.

Go to bed earlier

One of the main reasons people snooze their alarms is that they haven’t gotten enough sleep. Going to bed earlier, and preferably at a consistent time, helps you to wake up more easily, especially if your wake-up time also happens at a similar time each day.

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Give yourself 15 extra minutes

Life happens . . . Sometimes even with the best of intentions, you snooze, dawdle, or get distracted by an errant email. To give yourself more of a feeling of spaciousness, plan in a 15-minute margin.

There is no harm in getting up early, getting ready early, or leaving early. But you can experience enormous stress when you aim for the last possible minute and then are a few minutes off. Think of it as a favor to your future self.

Follow a morning routine

Having a set order for how you approach each of your morning tasks increases your ease and efficiency. I encourage you to script the different parts of your day, so as soon as your eyes open, you know what’s next.

For example in my life, I know exactly what I’ll be doing when I’m swimming in the morning and when I’m not swimming in the morning. On my non-swimming days, I get up, take my Bible and journal to the breakfast table, and eat breakfast while praying. Then I put away my breakfast dishes, shower, get dressed, and do my hair and makeup.

On my swimming days, I have the mornings similarly scripted, including knowing when I need to start getting ready, head out the door, etc. Doing the exact same things in the exact same way each morning reduces any question in my mind about what’s next and ensures they all get done.

Do your must-do’s first

Oftentimes it’s not so much getting up late that throws people off their schedule, but getting sucked into your phone or email vortex. If at all possible, do what you must do to get out of the house first. That means no getting lost in your phone until you’re dressed, packed up for the day, and ready to step out the door. If you find that you absolutely can’t stand the thought of not reading or doing something else on your phone first thing in the morning, set a cut off time. For example, by 7 a.m., I must get off my phone and get completely ready for work. I can’t get on my phone again until I’m 100% ready to go.

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