With everything going on these days, what with juggling an intense season in my next research project, AND helping my mom and dad after his stroke, AND getting my daughter off to college , I realize I am in dire need of advice from others who have been there before me.
Especially in the mornings, since I am the furthest thing from a morning person, as my long-suffering husband can tell you. It’s hard enough for ME to get out of bed and organized, much less get my son up and off to school. (I’m trying very hard to not get a little weepy at the fact that that sentence was just about my son and no longer includes my daughter! <sniff>)
I’ve noticed in my own life and in a lot of conversations and interviews with others, that starting off the day super rushed and stressed creates a sense of being off-kilter in other areas during the day. But somehow, if we can have a peaceful morning it sets us up well for the day ahead.
I need that in this crazy season of my life. I’m guessing you might too.
Enter my friend Kathi Lipp, an author and speaker who is also one of the most organized people I know. And has also gone through a season much like the one I’m in right now. I LOVED her blog about a few simple ways to completely change the way we experience our mornings, to set us up well for the day ahead, so I asked her if I could share it.
(And if you have other tips, leave them in the comments! We’d love to hear them!)
Confession time. I have never been a morning person, until recently.
I realized that if I want to get stuff done in life, I need to get up before the rest of the world. But it’s still not easy to get going.
I really believe having a morning routine is one of the most powerful ways to not just change your day, but change your life, because we give ourselves more permission to go deeper in the morning than we do at any other time.
As the morning goes on, we can come up with more and more excuses about why we are not doing what we need to do.
Having a morning routine means deciding in advance what you’re going to do, so you can spend your mental energy focusing on what’s really important for the day.
Here are five steps to creating a routine for happy mornings.
1. Make a list of everything you do in the mornings.
Go into detail, and leave nothing out, no matter how small. Here is an idea of some things you’ll want to include:
• Brushing teeth
• Making breakfast
• Finding car keys
• Getting kids ready
• Quiet time
• Making coffee
• Putting on makeup
• Getting dressed
• Eating breakfast
• Packing your computer bag
• Making lunches
2. Evaluate your list.
The next morning, if you remember things that aren’t on the list, write them down. I want you to get an accurate reflection of what you can accomplish and see where the stress is in the morning.
Are you a morning person? Awesome! Load up your mornings, but load it up with the most important stuff.
Are you a night owl? Do everything you can to prep the night before so you can get the rest you need. I could do a whole other blog post on having an evening routine, but the bottom line is…PREP, PREP, PREP.
If it’s not working, brainstorm ways to make it work. Maybe you need a longer prep list the night before, or you might even need to plan earlier in the week. Making a big pot of oats to heat up in the microwave or putting together your outfits for the week can make your mornings go more smoothly. I’m a big fan of a prep and plan day to set you up for success for the rest of the week.
3. Time yourself to see how long things actually take.
We are time optimists. We think it takes 5 minutes to put on makeup, but it really takes fifteen. Time yourself so you know where you can save time, and where to schedule more. You’ll have a realistic idea about how long your morning routine takes and reduce your stress level getting out the door.
4. Print out your list so it’s easy to follow.
Put it up in the kitchen, your bathroom, the bedroom, or wherever you’ll see it. Practice, practice, practice.
When I did this, I learned more efficient ways to get my list done faster. Since I normally eat oatmeal for breakfast, I got to where I could unload the dishwasher in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds it takes to cook.
The first couple of weeks are discovery. After that, it’s execution.
5. Adjust as you go.
By sheer accident, I discovered that my oatmeal turns out just as good if I only cook it for 3 minutes, so I had to think of new strategies to unload the dishwasher 33 seconds faster.
Sometimes you’ll have to change your routine as circumstances change, like for a new job or school schedule. Keep adjusting your routine so that it continues to work for you.
First published here. Used with permission.
Kathi Lipp is the author of 17 books including Overwhelmed, Clutter Free, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project, Happy Habits for Every Couple, and I Need Some Help Here – Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan. She is the host of Clutter Free Academy the Podcast! with Kathi Lipp and speaks at conferences across the US. Kathi is published with Revell Publishers and Harvest House Publishers.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.