Do you wake up looking forward to the day or dreading it? Do you roll out of bed and start your morning routine calmly, but at a good pace? Or are constantly looking for your keys, phone, wallet?

While some of us are not naturally early risers and feel like we’ll never wake up with a song in our hearts, there’s an important distinction to be made between being a little grumpy pre-coffee and running out the front door 15 minutes late — and completely frazzled –- every morning.

Mastering morning chaos allows you to start the day with a calm experience, which in turn enables you to focus on the day and tasks ahead — whether it’s figuring out how to fit in a trip to the grocery store between the bank and the kids’ soccer practice, or what the perfect tagline is for the new ad campaign you’re working on.

In The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life, doctors Rob and Kirti Salwe Carter emphasize the importance of setting up a morning routine to get your day started in the most nurturing way possible: “A morning routine can be as little as 15 to 20 minutes if desired, but the idea is to have time dedicated to you and habits that support you.”

Here are 3 strategies for mastering your morning routine:


1. Plan the night before

Although plenty of things can’t be planned, creating an essential checklist the night before can help relieve a lot of morning stress. You can choose what clothes you’ll wear the next day, and make sure car keys and anything like gym clothes, dry-cleaning, or schoolbags are packed and by the door.

Make a to-do list of the next day’s chores and consider grouping them. You can categorize them by how essential and time-sensitive (doctor’s appointments, any payments that aren’t automated yet, kids’ after school activities) they are. Take note of what can be pushed to another day, should anything unexpected come up. You can aksi organize your checklist by geography, grouping tasks that are on the same route together.

2. Set an early departure time

Changing your morning departure time can work miracles, even if you’re leave just five minutes earlier than usual. However, 15 minutes earlier is the ideal time. That away if something comes up, you still have a comfortable buffer. It might also ease your commute, especially if you’re on the road at peak times. A 15-minute head start can mean the difference between a traffic jam and an easy drive.

You will also get to know quite a few new people. The group of people that arrive at your office 15 minutes before your usual time can be a very different clique than the one you usually chat to over coffee.

Alternatively, you can spend a few extra minutes outside with your morning coffee, or why not have it at your favorite coffee shop instead of to-go? Depending on how strict your work schedule is, it might also mean leaving 15-minutes early; beating traffic on the way back, too!

3. Make time for yourself

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the morning, when a busy day looms ahead. There’s work, the kids, the commute, groceries, after-school projects, dinner, the dog needs to go to the vet– and as soon as you wake up, all that comes rushing at you. So, to start the day with a positive experience, make time for yourself.

It can be as little as 5 minutes and you can spend it doing anything you like, as long as you can stop when you-time runs out — so checking social media is probably not a good idea.

You can go outside and enjoy a cup of coffee on your balcony, meditate, set goals and intentions for the day, do some exercises, or just put your favorite song on and dance it out!