Monday, July 21, 2014

Tips for efficient mornings

I am not a morning person. At all. Though, I work regular office hours, so I need to get up and get ready no matter how awake I am. I found a few tricks to make my morning more efficient and save a few precious minutes of sleep.
  1. Be proactive: Before you go to bed, make sure that you are ready for the next morning (that doesn't mean you should sleep with your office clothes on!). It can be having your bag / lunch bag ready, your outfit selected and ironed, the coffee machine set to brew your morning coffee right on time, etc. That is the step I struggle the most with, as I change my mind constantly about what I want to wear the next day. I've learned the hard way though that I can’t plan to wear a piece of clothing that has spent its night in the dryer, because chances are it won’t be fully dry in the morning.
  2. Buy multi-use / fast-to-use products: If it fits you, 2-in-1 shampoos will save you time. I also like to use hydrating (and soap free) shower gel to skip moisturizer. Tinted face moisturizer can save you a few minutes if you usually apply foundation. I keep at the bottom of my stairs baby powder and clear shoe polish for a quick touch up before I leave. The examples are plenty; you just need to find those who work for you to reduce the number of steps in your routine and save time.
  3. Get it done for you: Get dry without having to do a thing by using a bathrobe. If you have long hair, wrap a microfiber towel around it for the time it takes you to get ready: you’ll reduce the time needed to dry your hair (less than 3 minutes for my mid-back hair). Some coffee machines can be set up to brew on a set time so you don’t have to wait.
  4. One spot for each thing and each thing at its spot: How many times have you put face cleanser in your hair? If you have a spot for each product and keep it there, even half awake, your shower should be foolproof. I also select products with very different shapes and colors so I can recognize them with my eyes closed – literally.
  5. Sort your clothing the right way: I’ve tried a few ways to sort my outfits. What works best for me is to sort them by type of item, work appropriate or not, how warm / light the items are (don’t over sort though, I find that 3 stacks for t-shirts and knitwear are more than enough). This way, depending of the weather (that I check before getting out of bed) and whether I work or not, I’m able to put together an outfit fairly quickly.
  6. Have the right playlist/background sound: It can be a playlist to wake you up (see my previous post for more comments on that point), the news playing in the background, whatever works for you. I’d like to be able to listen to audio books in the morning, but I’d be way too much in my bubble to start the day.
  7. Know what steps you can skip: That may be more important than having the perfect morning routine. If you oversleep or something comes up, you need to know instantly (and without panicking) what steps are not necessary. You can choose an outfit that takes minimal ironing. Obviously, hair and makeup can be reduced to the minimum. Know what has the biggest effect on your morning routine: this is what you can’t skip (shower, teeth and clothing for instance). Identify then the steps that won’t make much of a difference (the non value added steps if you wish): those can be removed. 
  8. Find the right time to leave: Commute is a waste by definition. Sometimes, leaving 5 minutes later / earlier will save you precious minutes in your car. Try and find the time that allows you to be at work on time with the minimal commute time and still some buffer for special causes.
  9. Do it after: If you can’t manage to fit a task in the time you have for your morning routine, sometime you can do it afterwards. I always keep lip balm and hand moisturizer at work as I don’t have the time for it in the morning. I usually eat breakfast at work to save a few minutes.

Doing the same routine every morning prevents me from forgetting a step or doing them in an illogical order. It took me a few trials and errors to get to a process that is effective, easy and sustainable. I’m sure it will still evolve in time (especially when I’ll have kids).
I hope that these few ideas will help you optimize your mornings! Meanwhile, here are a few products that have changed mine: