We know that waking up early is beneficial, but some of us can also dread hearing that alarm go off. It may not be the waking up part, but the thought that you have to be ready and out the door in a certain amount of time that can be daunting.
I dislike getting up in the morning, yet I have taught myself to wake up without an alarm at 5:30 a.m. This allows me to go to the gym and be in the office before anyone else. Here are some of the ways I simplify my routine to have multiply my productivity in the mornings.
Step 1: Prepare the night before.
You won’t be able to get everything done the night before, but you can get a head start on other routine tasks. For example, I can lay out and iron my clothes, pack my lunch, get the kids’ backpacks ready or load the dishwasher. The more I do the night before, the less running around I’ll have to do in the morning.
Step 2: Make a breakfast menu.
Since you probably don’t want to make your breakfast the night before, I recommend creating a breakfast menu for the next 2-3 weeks. This way, you know what you’ll have to make each morning, and it ensures your fridge is stocked with items you need — and for parents, it lets your kids know what to expect, which can reduce friction in the morning. No on has to think about it too much.
Step 3: Don’t hit the snooze button.
There’s probably one sound you don’t want to hear every morning: the dreaded alarm. No matter how much you want to hit the snooze button, make it a point to get up when the alarm goes off the first time. While it won’t solve all of your morning routine problems, getting an earlier start makes life a bit easier.
I have found that after around two months of not hitting the snooze button, I now wake up at 5:30 a.m. on my own. While this doesn’t mean I want to get out of bed, it allows me to wake up naturally, which is optimal.
Bonus tip: Move your phone or alarm clock farther away from your bed so that you’ll have to get up to turn off the alarm. When I started waking up at a set time each day, I had my phone right outside my door so I would have to run to get it.
Step 4: Let the light in.
Open the curtains and windows. Letting some sunshine and fresh air into your home first thing in the morning is a simple, yet effective way in helping you wake up, improve your mood, and get you focused for a more productive day. Additionally, the National Institute of Health found that “sunlight helps the body’s internal biological clock reset itself each day. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.”
Step 5: Create a bathroom schedule.
As a kid I remember fighting with my siblings over the bathroom each and every morning. Prevent the hassle and stress by creating a family bathroom schedule — even if it’s just you and your significant other! While someone else is using the bathroom during their allotted time, you can finish other tasks that need to be done.
Step 6: Get rid of clutter.
Getting organized in general is a great way to simplify your life. For example, the bathroom seems to get overlooked by most, yet it’s a very important part of staying more productive. Take the time to remove expired items and clean off the counter. Without all that clutter, I am able to find everything 10 times faster.
Step 7: Create designated areas.
Stop hunting for shoes, coats, keys, backpacks and other bags by having a designated area for these items. If you don’t have a closet near the door, designate an area like a hallway, laundry room or mudroom where you can hang hooks for coats and bags. Also, make sure you place your phone, keys, wallet or purse in the same location all the time. This helps me never lose anything and allows me to properly manage my time in the mornings.
Step 8: Put on your favorite song.
Music can help get you moving in the morning and it can be used as a timer. If your favorite album is about is 60 minutes long, and you’ve given yourself one hour to get ready, then you know it’s time to go when the album ends. Or, you could make a Spotify playlist that is the length of time you need to get ready.
Step 9: Make a checklist.
If you’re still forgetting things, like your keys, then make a checklist and post it on your refrigerator or a frequented area in your home, so you can refresh your memory and make your mornings go more smoothly. I always make a list when I know I can’t forget something. You could go “old school” and make lists in notebooks, write them down on a whiteboard/chalkboard, or stick them to a cork board. However, there are more than enough apps that can handle your to-do-lists, like Evernote, Wunderlist and Todoist.
Ensuring the morning goes smoothly will help you get your day started smoothly, resulting in a better mood and a more productive day. What tricks to you use to simplify your morning routine?
This article has been edited and condensed.
John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Due, a free online invoicing company specializing in helping businesses bill their client easily online. Connect with @johnrampton on Twitter.
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