Streamlining your morning routine

My friend Brittany has a problem. She can’t get out of the house in the morning on time. No matter how early she wakes up, she can find a reason to be late. Laundry, phone calls, or lost objects are common time sucks.

“I dawdle,” Brittany reports.

Brittany doesn’t have a big issue with her lack of promptness, but her boyfriend who carpools with her does. Most days he makes her lunch while he waits for her to get her act together. She admits that she doesn’t even figure making her lunch into her morning routine any longer, if she were responsible for it, she’d be even more tardy.

“He likes having something to do while he waits for me,” she rationalizes.

Her lateness is starting to wear thin on her boyfriend, however, so she turned to me for advice. She asked if I could help her streamline her morning routine so that she could start getting out the door on time.

The first step in streamlining your morning routine is to discover how you’re spending your time. In my friend’s case, I think that her boyfriend might be a better person to track her morning processes. Either way, keep a log of how you spend your time from the point you wake up until you arrive at work. Keep this log for two or three weeks so that you get an accurate view of your typical morning. How long does it take to shower? Choose your clothes? Hunt for items you need to drop at the dry cleaners, post office, or child’s school? What throws you off track?

After you have a log of what you do, you’ll need to evaluate the information you’ve collected. What are the activities that you do every day that you can’t avoid (things like showering, teeth brushing, getting dressed, and commuting fall into this category)? List these items and their time requirements on a sheet of paper. If your commute time varies, find the average length of your commute times over the two or three-week period and use that number. Now, do the obvious and add up these numbers to make sure that you’re waking up at least early enough to achieve these essential tasks.

The next step is to evaluate those other tasks that don’t have to be completed in the morning. These are tasks like picking out your clothing, making lunches, collecting things together, or hunting for your daughter’s pony tail holder. Could any of these tasks be relocated to the evening beforehand? Could you make all lunches for a week on Sunday afternoon? How much time are you wasting every morning doing tasks that don’t have to be handled before work?

Here are some other questions to ask yourself:

How many times are you hitting the snooze button on the alarm in the morning? Do you need to move your alarm clock to the other side of the room? Resolve not to hit the snooze at all? Go to bed earlier?

Do you routinely pick out your clothes the night beforehand so that you can make sure your shirt is ironed, you know where both shoes are located, and your socks match? Do your children go through the same process?

Do you have a spot in your home where you put all items that you’ll need for the next day? Do you have a basket where your child puts forms that have to be signed for school so that last-minute tasks are kept to a minimum? Do you keep your keys, wallet, watch, and cell phone in a valet, purse, or on a landing strip so that you don’t have to hunt for them?

Do you take the time to read the paper in physical form when it might be easier to download a digital version and read it on an e-book reader or your iPod/cell phone on the subway/bus? Are you stopping to buy coffee every morning when brewing it at home would reduce the time involved (and the price tag)?

In the drastic measure department, do you need a different job that doesn’t care what time you get in to work? Is there a family in your child’s carpool that routinely makes everyone else late that you could tactfully un-invite from your carpool?

Once you work through this process, you should have a clear view of what is keeping you from arriving at work on time. Now, you have to take the steps to streamline your schedule and get your morning routine running on time.

Good luck to my friend Brittany and to anyone else trying to get your morning routine on the right track!

60 Comments for “Streamlining your morning routine”

  1. posted by kazza on

    I used to often run late for appointments, sometimes as much as an hour, because I’m often the problem solver. So there was always something extra to do courtesy of my spouse/boss/friends/myself that kept me running late for my next appointment.

    I don’t run late anymore because my new favourite word is “no”. Closely followed by the phrase “yes but not now” or “yes but not until next week”.

    Or if it’s my boss “I don’t have the information to hand. I’ll get back to you with that by …” followed by the sound of me fleeing the scene :)

    It’s amazing how many of my on-time-because-they-delegated-their-problems-to-me friends can find time to do the things they delegated to me. Or abandon them as the waste of time they were.

    One thing that does work is encouraging carpoolers to multitask. If they’re not driving those ‘terribly important’ phone calls or notes or reading or daydreaming can be done in the car.

    I also buy absolutely no clothing for myself or my husband that requires ironing and gave my iron away. Hours saved just by doing that.

  2. posted by Manage Your Hats on

    These are great suggestions. I also posted recently on this topic over at Manage Your Hats: http://www.manageyourhats.com/.....ese-rules/

  3. posted by Track Your Morning Rituals to Streamline Your Routine [Habits] · TechBlogger on

    [...] taken notes on your own routines let’s hear about the results in the comments below. Streamlining your morning routine [...]

  4. posted by The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Track Your Morning Rituals to Streamline Your Routine [Habits] on

    [...] taken notes on your own routines let’s hear about the results in the comments below. Streamlining your morning routine [...]

  5. posted by Track Your Morning Rituals To Streamline Your Routine | Lifehacker Australia on

    [...] Streamlining your morning routine [Unclutterer] Tagged:habitstime managementtime savers [...]

  6. posted by Track Your Morning Rituals to Streamline Your Routine [Habits] - 3630th Edition | Technology Revealed on

    [...] taken notes on your own routines let’s hear about the results in the comments below. Streamlining your morning routine [...]

  7. posted by LJ on

    Re making lunches: even if you don’t do the sandwich (which you could do the night before), you could package up servings of fruit, veggies and snacks. I do the veggies and fruits on Sunday, and maintain two baskets in the pantry: one of cookies and one of snacks. My daughter knows that for lunch she gets 1 sandwich, 1 veggie, 1 fruit and either a snack or a sweet. It makes her feel good to be able to choose her lunch, and it can be assembled in the time it takes to make a sandwich.

  8. posted by Top 10 Ways To Upgrade Your Morning Routine | Lifehacker Australia on

    [...] hour, rather than see what your morning really requires. The Unclutterer blog suggests a system for tracking and streamlining your routine, and determining what wild cards can throw you off-balance. Got a rough list of necessities? Make a [...]

  9. posted by Top 10 Ways to Upgrade Your Morning Routine « The illiterate scientist on

    [...] hour, rather than see what your morning really requires. The Unclutterer blog suggests a system for tracking and streamlining your routine, and determining what wild cards can throw you off-balance. Got a rough list of necessities? Make a [...]

  10. posted by iFeel on

    [...] rather than see what your morning really requires. The Unclutterer blog suggests a system for tracking and streamlining your routine, and determining what wild cards can throw you off-balance. Got a rough list of necessities? Make [...]

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