For those who are natural night owls, adhering to the average 9-to-5 schedule is hard. You typically can’t get to sleep at a decent time at night because that’s when your brain is most active. Then you end up sleep deprived, hitting your snooze button until you have five minutes to leave the house and are exhausted the rest of the day. It seems like no matter what you do, you can’t get yourself into a good routine that makes your mornings easier and less hectic.
Even those who aren’t necessarily night owls may find sticking with a morning routine difficult. You may be able to get yourself up, but from the time you get up to the time you leave the house might be different every day, making it difficult to predict how long you need to get ready. The chaos of the morning can work itself into the rest of the day, leaving you with an unproductive day.
It may feel impossible to get yourself into a morning routine, but it’s not. It just takes some preparations and a dose of willpower. Here are some tips to help you establish a positive morning routine.
Establish a Nighttime Routine
A good morning routine starts with a good nighttime routine. You can use your nighttime routine to set your morning up for success. Start with assessing what you can do at night that typically takes up time in the morning. If finding an outfit typically takes a lot of time in the morning, choose one the night before; this is will give you time to find a cohesive outfit without needing to tear apart your drawers and closet in a frenzy looking for a shirt to go with your pants and your other dress shoe that is for some reason not with the one you just found. If taking a shower and subsequently drying your hair takes up too much time in the morning, consider doing this at night. You can also make your lunch, set up your coffee maker, and other time-consuming things that can be prepared and done the night before, making your morning that much more free.
You also want to make sure your night routine includes aspects that help you to get sleep at a decent hour. Nothing can hinder a morning routine like not getting enough sleep, so setting yourself up for sleep success is crucial. Make sure to stop using electronics at least an hour before bed, if not longer; the blue light that emits from electronic screens can keep your brain active and awake. If you need something to occupy you until you fall asleep, consider reading a book or listening to music. If any source of light bothers you, like street lights through windows, or even the light of your alarm clock, consider using a sleep mask; this will block out all night making it easier for you to get to sleep.
Also, set an alarm on your phone for an hour or two before you would like to go to sleep so you can start winding down and get ready for bed. Remember, your bedtime should be at least 7-9 hours before you need to wake up to ensure you get enough sleep.
Since your morning can set the tone for the rest of the day, having a calm and productive morning is ideal. Take a moment to assess what things you need to do in the morning to be ready for the day, how much time each task takes you, and what time you need to be up by to get them all done. If you found things you can set up at night to make your morning easier, you can either use that extra time to sleep a little more or to go at a more leisurely pace — you don’t want your morning routine to be too rushed.
Have a Real Alarm
People have gotten into the habit of using their phone as their morning alarm. For those who have trouble waking and getting up, they tend to set several alarms, snoozing each one until they realize they have no time to get ready and have to rush through the morning.
But it’s actually better for you to get up at the first alarm. Hitting snooze too often can actually make you feel more tired, so it’s beneficial for your whole day to get up the first time. Getting a real alarm clock makes it so you can only set one alarm — sure, you can snooze that alarm, but setting it somewhere in the room where you have to get up to turn it off can help you to resolve to wake up the first time.
Taking a Shower
Above, it was suggested that showers be taken at night to save time in the morning, but if you need a shower to help you wake up, then by all means keep it in the morning! There are still ways you can make your morning shower more efficient.
First, ensure at an earlier time — such as the night before or over a weekend — that your shower isn’t clogged. Pooling water can be annoying, adding time to your shower while you take breaks to let it drain, and it can also be dangerous, adding the potential to slip in the shower.
When your shower is good to go, you can focus on optimizing your time spent in the shower. Figure out a washing routine that is efficient. For example, shampoo first and then add conditioner if you use it. Since conditioner should sit in your hair for a few minutes, you can use this time to wash your body, which allows you to consolidate two things that might have taken more time separately.
Also, if hair is the most time consuming part of you shower routine, consider getting a shower cap and washing your hair less often. Washing your hair everyday is actually bad for it, leading to dry and brittle hair. If you feel like your hair gets too greasy to not wash it every day, get some dry shampoo and start training your hair to go longer between washes.
If you have long hair that takes a while to air dry or heat dry, put your hair in a towel when you do wash it and continue getting ready. This way, more water can be absorbed, making it easier to dry when you do get it with your hair drier.
You always hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with the right fuel, it is. If your breakfast consists of a donut and a latte, you are going to sugar crash hard in a few hours, which will be more detrimental than helpful.
For breakfast, make sure you are fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to get through the day. For some, a heart-healthy bowl of oatmeal with fruit is a great go-to. For others, a protein smoothie with additions like fruit and spinach is a nutritious and easy choice. Anything that is nutrient packed but won’t take you long to prepare will be ideal for your morning routine.
Also, consider your drink. Coffee and teas are typically the morning drinks of choice due to their caffeine content. It’s debated whether coffee or tea is healthier, as both have health benefits associated with them, but what can make them really unhealthy is the amount of sugar and specialty creamers added to them. Try your best to avoid these additives — if you can go sugarless, that is best! But if you need a little sweetness, work on reducing the amount over time. Week by week, slowly start reducing how much sweetness you add to get yourself used to using less. Eventually, you may find you don’t need it anymore!
Getting Dressed and Groomed
Getting dressed and groomed is arguably the most time-consuming part of getting ready in the morning. But since you have already chosen your outfit from the night before and have been towel drying your hair (or already have it dried from the night before), you can cut that time in half with just a couple more tips.
Keep your bathroom grooming simple. So much time can be inadvertently wasted perfecting a complicated hairstyle or makeup application, but choosing hair and makeup styles that are more simple and easily applied will save you a heap of time in your morning routine, getting you out the door more quickly and with less stress. If there is a facet of your routine that occurs regularly, like shaving, consider investing in products that can help expedite your time spent.
Set your briefcase, computer, wallet, purse, or whatever you need to take with you for the day in one spot the night before with all your other preparations. Doing this will ensure you don’t forget anything on your way out the door — make sure not to forget your prepared lunch from the fridge!
Getting yourself into a positive morning routine is going to make your overall day better. By applying these tips, you are sure to find a great morning routine that works for you and helps make your days a little less stressful and hectic — and a lot more productive.