Shutterstock / Pranee Chaiyadam
There are plenty of skills in life I haven’t quite mastered-poaching the perfect egg, using up all the produce I buy before it spoils, always remembering to turn off my flat iron when I leave the house-but one thing I can say with confidence is that I’m a pretty punctual person. I don’t always adhere to the rule of thumb my dad taught me: “If you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” But chances are, if you tell me when to be somewhere, you can count on me to show up on time. Even if it’s first thing in the morning.
While I wouldn’t exactly call myself a morning person, I’ve got my rise-and-shine routine down to a science, streamlining as much as possible to get out the door quick and into the office (or coffee shop, or brunch spot) right on time. Here are a few of my favorite tips to help speed along your morning routine.
Lay out your outfit the night before
If you don’t rely on a daily uniform, one of the biggest morning trip-ups is deciding on your outfit for the day-especially when you have a dozen other morning tasks to tackle. Before going to bed, check the next day’s weather forecast and select an outfit. If anything needs ironing, do it the night before, then lay it all out flat or hang together on your bedroom door (bonus points for setting out your accessories, too). When it’s time to get dressed, you’ll have no second guesses or flustered fashion changes.
Wear your workout clothes to bed
If you’re a morning exerciser like me, the hardest part about working out is actually crawling out from under the comforter and getting dressed for it. Eliminate the hem-and-haw before your sunrise workout by wearing your workout clothes to bed. Sure, it may be a little less comfy than your go-to PJ’s, but you’ll have one less excuse to exercise first thing-and you’ll save time picking out one more outfit in the morning. (Heading to the office from the gym? Be sure to bring a protein-packed snack.)
Simplify your routine-and stick to it
Plan your morning routine step by step. Whether you make the bed first, cook breakfast last, get dressed before doing your hair…write it all out and perform every task in the same order. Every. Single. Day. Soon your routine will become habit, and you’ll automatically streamline the process without having to think of what needs to be done next.
Prep the coffee maker the night before
Before going to bed, measure out the morning’s coffee grounds, dump them in a filter, and set up your coffeemaker so all you have to do in the morning is flip the “on” switch. The couple of minutes it saves to prep your coffeemaker the night before helps welcome sweet caffeinated bliss that much sooner. (Did you ever wonder about the best source of caffeine?)
Plan a make-ahead or grab-and-go breakfast
Even something as simple as whipping up a veggie scramble can eat up precious minutes in the morning. Ensure you get that most important meal of the day and get out the door in time by preparing homemade grab-and-go recipes to devour in the car or at your desk once you get to work. (Want more smart meal-planning tips? These are easy enough to start this weekend.)
Put your phone away
All right, technophiles, this one’s for you. If you rely on your cellphone as your morning alarm, it can be easy to pick it up and start flipping through Facebook or checking emails before you even get out of bed. Eliminate the distraction (I know, those little red notifications can be sooo tempting) by hopping out of bed and placing your phone in a purse or a basket by your back door as soon as you wake up. Once the phone is tucked away, there’s no peeking at it while you’re getting ready.
Multitask while you groom
If you can get away with performing two morning tasks at once, by all means, double up! Brush your teeth in the shower, let your hair air-dry as you pack your lunch, use an all-in-one face moisturizer/sunscreen/foundation blend. Those precious seconds all add up in the morning.
Create an out-the-door-essentials station
Somewhere close to the door you leave through each morning, set up a basket, bowl, tray or bag where you stash everything you need before you rush out. Your keys, wallet, lip balm, cellphone, sunglasses…put them all in this designated spot as soon as you walk in the door so when it’s time to leave, you’re not flipping couch cushions and rooting around on your messy counter searching for them. (Speaking of messy counters, check out these genius tips for making the most of your counter space).
Wrangle your everyday makeup and hair products in one place
Determine which makeup products you use every day and keep them corralled in a pouch or tray within easy reach. That way you’re not rooting through five different shades of lipstick, pots of shimmer eye shadow or an out-of-season foundation when all you really want is your favorite mascara and trusty tube of BB cream. Keep the lesser-used products you save for special occasions in a separate place. Same goes for hair products-if you rely on the same combo of leave-in conditioner, smoothing serum and finishing spray every day, store them together in an easy-to-grab basket, along with your blow-dryer.
Set your household clocks ahead
I swear by this method. Aside from my cellphone and laptop, every clock in my house (and in my car!) is set ahead by five minutes. While I’m rushing around in the morning and peeking at the clock between tasks, I’m tricked into thinking it’s five minutes later than it actually is (I’m usually too sleepy to remember that the time’s a bit off). So when I’m rushing out the door or pulling into the parking lot, I can breathe easy and remember I’m not behind schedule after all.
Hey, maybe you’re not the world’s most thorough spring cleaner (do you often forget these steps, too ?) or you never quite keep your fridge perfectly organized, but if you add even two or three of the tips above to your morning routine, maybe you’ll soon be considered the “punctual one,” and it’s never too late for that.