There are some people who thrive with the sunrise, waking easily and with excitement, ready to begin their day. And then… there are the rest of us. We snooze until we just-can’t, rush through brushing teeth and hair, and sometimes have time to grab a coffee and race out the door in time for the morning’s first meeting.
While this mad dash is often normalcy instead of exception, when we don’t give ourselves enough time to check through all boxes, corners are cut, deadlines are made and our energy level is tanked. One of the most effective ways to alleviate the stress of the morning is to develop an efficient routine.
From avoiding distractions to preparing yourself for success the night before, life coaches and career experts provide their best strategies for maintaining a ritual that works for you—and not against you.
Limit the number of choices you make in the morning.
Nearly every moment of the day, you’re consciously and subconsciously making decisions: right or left? Instagram or Facebook? Bathroom break or not? Blue or red? While this is an innate human skill, mornings often mean your brain is hazy and ill-prepared for strategic thinking.
Instead, life coach and author Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC recommends setting decision-making for the night before. This might mean picking out what you’re going to wear each day of the week on a Sunday and laying it out so you avoid staring blankly at your wardrobe before work. Or, you can meal prep so your breakfast is set aside and ready for you.
Take it a step further and stock up your work bag or backpack with extra packs of gum and pens, as well as hair ties and other essentials. You can lay out your laptop to charge in your living room by the door so you don’t forget it. Whatever you need a little choice-making assistance with, use the evening as your time to prep.
Avoid social media.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur managing a lean team of five or a stay-at-home parent who can balance the needs of toddlers and their antics, most people have the same reaction to the sound of the alarm. They turn over, shut it off and flip open their phone.
Considering smartphones are commonplace these days, it makes sense that most want to catch up on what they missed while they were dreaming. If you can resist the temptation to browse through Instagram, Facebook and beyond, you’ll find a much faster-paced morning, according to career and branding expert Wendi Weiner. “Hold off on responding and devote the morning time to getting ready for work and sticking to your personal routine. If you have to, flip your phone on airplane mode so that you aren’t easily distracted,” she suggests.
Choose lemon water and veggies first thing in the morning.
While sure, preparation may take up time in the morning, holistic nutritionist and wellness coach Serena Poon explains fueling your body with the right vegetables and nutrients will ensure you’re speedy throughout the day. “Starting the day with a clear, uncluttered mind helps me accomplish so much throughout the day. It’s so important to nourish our bodies with the proper bioavailable nutrients in the morning to energize our body, mind and soul. But a full breakfast complete with greens, antioxidants, probiotics, prebiotics—everything needed to get us going—is time-consuming,” she continues.
Instead, you can manage this early-A.M. task by simply choosing a lightweight approach. Poon says to start your day with a warm glass of lemon water, which gives you natural energy and flushes your system. Then, she says to blend your favorite veggies and fruits with coconut yogurt. If you need to cut even more minutes, she recommends frozen fruits in individual bags with a handful of greens, too.
Keep a schedule.
Physician Assistant and founder of Eat Your Way to Wellness Jessica DeLuise, MHS, PAC says more than anything, our bodies are a thing of habit. This makes maintaining a consistent schedule vital to productivity at any time of the day, particularly in the morning. So if you can, give yourself a bedtime like you did when you were a kid. “Resting and waking at the same time each day and night can help your body’s rhythm. It also give you more energy and pep in the morning, allowing you to crush your routine, and, it will prevent you from hitting the snooze button all morning long,” she explains.”
Clear clutter at the start of the week.
One of the most effective ways to ensure you check off all of your morning boxes is to clear the path for any disruptions… literally! Clutter creates a feeling of chaos and constantly tripping on this-and-that will make for a frustrating routine. CEO of apartmentjeanie, Jeanie Engelbach explains simple organization hacks can turn your whole before-10 a.m. schedule. Start with your entryway. “Having a landing area right inside your front door so you don’t drag too much of the outside world in—his also serves as a home for your keys, wallet/purse, sunglasses, and so on,” she says. “Keep things you take with you on a daily basis the same spot.” Then, she suggests always putting shoes up and ensuring your kitchen is organized so you can grab, go and keep going.
Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
When professionals are nurtured from inside their homes, reaping enough family time and connection to those they love, they’re that much more prepared to perform at work. If your mornings are always transitioning between work and your family, you’ll feel a frantic chaos, instead of an invigorating start to your day.
As president and founder of Notion Consulting Christine Andrukonis says, one one to streamline your routine is to set and adhere to boundaries. These include quality time, sure, but also self-care, too. “Set appropriate boundaries between work and life during those critical morning hours, clarify them with others, and honor them,” she recommends. “Make sure you are getting proper rest, nutrition, water, exercise and downtime to stay refreshed and rejuvenated.”