If you are anything like me, mornings can be a real struggle. I actually consider myself a morning person because I often wake up in a good mood. However, that does not mean that I am a very productive morning person. Between silencing multiple alarms on my phone and tearing into my closet to find something to wear, my mornings can actually become quite stressful. Stress in the morning can set the tone for the rest of the day so I try very hard to do things to ensure that my mornings go off without a hitch. Here are some ideas for how to take charge of your mornings and set a positive vibe for the rest of your workday.
1. Do more the night before
I have been told this since I was younger, but it didn’t really set in until I became an adult and started to feel the real repercussions of disorganization and chaos. The number one thing that I make sure to do the night before is clean the kitchen. I hate cleaning the kitchen and some nights I just want to leave it be. But there is nothing peaceful and calming about trying to make a nice cup of coffee in a dirty cluttered kitchen. I have to remind myself at night that cleaning up will definitely make a difference in the morning.
It is also helpful to try to pick out your clothes the night before. Not only does it save you time in the morning, but it also gives you a chance to make sure that what you want to wear is clean and wrinkle free. I don’t know how many times I wake up thinking about a certain outfit only to remember that part of it is in the wash. Sorting these things out the night before gets rid of all that unnecessary stress in the morning.
If you bring a lunch to work, which I highly recommend, packing your lunch at night is the best way to go. You will wake up feeling pampered and ready for the day when you have a fresh packed lunch already made. This also helps you save money and extra pounds because when you are running late and don’t have time to pack a lunch in the morning, it is so much easier to justify grabbing a cheeseburger or fast food for lunch.
2. Get a real alarm clock
I am guilty of using a phone alarm myself. Phone alarms are fine if they work well for you. However, for many people, phone alarms are morning wreckers. We usually keep our phones right beside our beds so it is super easy to just push snooze and go back to sleep. Also, when we do wake up to our phone alarm there is an immediate need to check our emails and social media sites. For me, this can actually drain an hour of my morning if I am not careful.
The best solution is to get an old fashioned alarm clock that is placed across the room. Make yourself get your feet on the ground to turn it off. You may still hit snooze but it is not nearly as easy to fall back asleep. I have also tried to train myself to stay off of my phone until I at least get out of bed and out of my room. Sometimes I will check it during my morning coffee. Once the coffee is done, so is the Facebooking.
3. Establish a morning routine and use it
Write out a list of everything that you want to do in the mornings. Then go back through it and highlight what you absolutely need to do, what you want to do, and what could be done the night before. Make a routine covering the things that you absolutely have to do. If you have a chance to get in some of those extra things that is great. Some people may feel that the need to exercise in the morning. If that is you, put it in your plan.
4. Make a time budget to determine the best wake up time
Speaking of exercise, it is important to calculate how much time you will need in the morning. Not only should you have a routine but you should also make sure that you have enough time to complete that routine with ease. If you are a morning exerciser, obviously you may need to wake up a little earlier to account for your workout time.
In order to gauge how much time you need in the morning, pick a day when you are off work or on a weekend morning and go through your routine. You should set a timer and go about your routine exactly as you want to see it done on workday mornings. Record the time and adjust your wake-up time to account for much time you need to complete your routines.
5. Think about your favorite thing to do in the morning and do that first
There are 2 things that get me out of bed in the morning- having good breakfast options and wanting to check the scale to see if I have lost weight. These two things are guaranteed to get me up out of the bed. Figure out what you like about the mornings and plan that first. Is it exercising? watering the plants? washing your face? brushing your teeth? Whatever you like most about the mornings is the key to getting you motivated to get out of bed. On the other hand, if you dread things in the morning, like working out, don’t plan that first. You will wake up feeling irritable and will probably snooze the alarm and fall back asleep.
6. Set aside 10-15 minutes for relaxation
This is so important. Mornings are usually such a rushed time, we need to be able to refocus ourselves and see how mornings can actually be a time for some peace and calmness before we start the rest of our rushed day. I usually do this close to when I wake up because other people in the house are still asleep so I won’t be bothered. The 10 or so minutes of relaxation can be anything from some simple yoga stretches and relaxation poses, to gentle meditation, to sitting down with a cup of coffee and checking your emails. Whatever you choose to do during this time needs to be designated as relaxation time so that you can feel like you have given yourself a little gift in the mornings. Make sure to add this to your morning routine and make room for it in your time budget.
7. Make up your bed
This is something that I am still working on. For some reason, it is extremely difficult for me to pull the sheets and covers back to the top of the bed in the morning. However, the purpose of making your bed is so that you feel good about your morning when you get home in the afternoon. When you come home from work to a disheveled room and bed, it makes it difficult to relax. The success of your mornings depends a lot on your afternoons and evenings. You want your evenings to be as stress-free as possible so that you can rest well to prepare for the next day. There are many many things that we cannot control about our evenings, but one thing we can do is make up our beds in the mornings so that we are coming home to a stress-free bedroom.
8. Prep meals on the weekends
Slow cooker freezer meals are the absolute best things in the world for busy working women. On Saturday or Sunday, spend some time researching recipes and prepping meals in freezer bags. That way, when you wake up on a Monday morning, you can throw the contents of the bag in the slow cooker and have dinner ready when you walk in the door.
If slow cooker freezer meals are not your fancy, it is still a good idea to create a meal plan and prep the food that you need for the week. Something as simple as precutting veggies on the weekend can save you stress and energy on those nights when you feel exhausted and spent.
9. Have easy to go breakfast and lunch options on hand
A dietician once told me to always have about a dozen boiled eggs in the fridge. I also keep a few individual yogurt cups and some granola bars on hand. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and your body needs fuel to keep up productivity and energy. There are going to be days when you aren’t able to complete your full morning routines and you need some quick options to go. I actually keep a few boxes of granola bars in my office too just in case I forget to grab something on the way out of the house.
10. Commit to getting to work at least 30 minutes early
Depending on where you work and what type of job you have, getting to work early can be such a productivity booster. I don’t get paid more to go to work early, but when I do it pays off in productivity and the ability to plan my day. It actually saves me time in the long run. Whenever I get to work “on time” there are already people asking things of me. When I am able to get to work just 30 minutes early, I can have another cup of coffee, look over my stuff from the day before and catch up on emails and phone calls. I can definitely tell a difference on days when I am able to make this happen. My goal is to train my brain to think to think that I start my workday 30 minutes earlier everyday. I usually have to be at work at 8:15 but I am trying to tell myself I have to be there by 7:45 and adjust my routine accordingly.
These are just a few ideas of how to get your morning started. Join the conversation and feel free to share some of your own morning motivation ideas in the comment section below!