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!


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

60 Comments for “Streamlining your morning routine”

  1. posted by eternalvoyageur on

    That post has been written for me… I always manage to be late almost everywhere ! Thanks for the advice !

  2. posted by Michael on

    Great advice, except I’m not sure about the “making all your lunches on Sunday” part. A sandwich made on Sunday is gonna be pretty soggy by the middle of the week.

  3. posted by Mer on

    @Michael: I’m with you, making all the lunches on Sunday doesn’t sound too appetizing to me. But you could get all your lunch supplies together on Sunday by making sure the shopping gets done so you don’t run out mid-week.

    The key to getting out on time in the morning is getting your act together the night before. Put your shoes, keys, backpack/briefcase and anything else that needs to leave with you in one spot by the door.

    If you don’t want to pick out your clothes the night before, at least check your closet to make sure you have a couple of outfit possibilities so that cuts time down the next morning.

    Be honest with yourself about the snooze button and adjust the alarm clock backward to compensate.

    Do you get sidetracked easily? If you’re hunting for a piece of paper you need to take with you, do you end up sitting down and reading through a stack of stuff and forget what you were originally looking for? You’ll have to STOP right then and ask yourself, “do I really need to be doing this RIGHT NOW”?

    If all else fails, make a cheat sheet for your routine the night before, put it by your bed and follow it to the letter the next morning. If you forgot to put something on your cheat sheet, skip it, but make a note on the sheet so you can add it in later. I offer this method for the chronically disorganized.

    I do some version of all these things because I hate to forget things. That’s why I keep a small pad and pen in my nightstand. I get in bed, think of something and jot it down next to me. When I get up, I see “Call about prescription,” so I don’t get to the end of the day and realize I’m out of something I need. I sleep much better because the paper does the worrying for me.

    Quit answering the phone when it’s time to go somewhere – the person waiting with the car running is more important than the phone call you’re taking. Give up the hunt for missing objects if you don’t need them at that moment. And do your laundry on a regular basis instead of when it’s reached crisis stage.

    Personally, I think it’s rude to keep people waiting on you constantly. You don’t have to be hyper-organized to get somewhere on time – just do a little advance planning and preparation.

  4. posted by Melissa A. on

    I’m usually pretty organized before bed, but I never get get up when my alarm goes off. I did try moving it farther away, but it’s not far enough I guess.

  5. posted by Dave Bullock on

    This is cool, one of my most helpful things is to have a routine I follow before sleep and one I follow when I wake up. I also wake up much much earlier than I need to so I can have peaceful time to read news, email and process my tickler file.


  6. posted by Shanel Yang on

    “I dawdle.” That seems to be the problem. Any number of lists and preparations won’t solve that problem. She’ll just dawdle staring at the list and doing the preparations. It’s a much deeper motivation issue.

    One of my sisters would, after we finally roused her out of bed each morning, just sit on the edge of her bed with one sock on and the other in her hand and stare into space until we stuck our heads back in her room and urged her forward. This was a typical school day morning routine! She just hated going to school. But, even on the days when she was excited to go someplace during the weekends, her dawdling habits often kept her from being on time — though she was much less late than usual.

    There was nothing the rest of the family could do to make her change her ways, and we tried everything! She did much better in college and in her ultimate job b/c she could pick her schedule; and, since she became a nurse, she finally felt the need to get there on time for the sake of the patients under her care and the other hardworking nurses anxiously awaiting her arrival to be relieved of their long, tiring shifts! : )

  7. posted by Amy Guth on

    Her story reminds me of something… I think it wouldn’t hurt for her to look at the subconscious aspects of all of this, too. Once upon a time, I could never get my act together and get out of the house organized or without rushing, despite having a “great” gig. One day I realized I wasn’t being too honest with myself– I hated the job and the too-inside-the-box path it put me on, but because the job was often praised as “great” and seemed to be something I wanted, I resisted admitting this to myself. Once I did admit it, though, and (more importantly) copped to the path I did want, things changed pretty quickly. I’m human, I still have my occasional rushed mornings, but it’s different now than it was then, and I find myself running into more and more people who created positive career changes in their own lives as a result of asking themselves if there was an underlying message to a given behavior.

  8. posted by Marla on

    In an issue of O magazine (that somebody gave me – perhaps with intent) there was an article describing polychrones and monochrones. Here:

    There are some great tips, like planning backward (which is where logging the time your morning routine takes comes in); and apportioning a good bit of your energy for the “dismount”. Since I identify with the former category, I found the article really helpful, and now have an easier time reminding myself that disengaging from an activity in favour of being less stressed in meeting time goals will help me to feel better in the long run.

    Because, I would suspect that, as in my own case, the problem in getting out of the house in the morning carries through the rest of the day. And so I’d also suggest something that I learned from FlyLady that really makes a difference — doing the parts of the bedtime routine that most affect me (the tidy-up, etc.) (oh, here: all the difference – as long as I keep it to twenty minutes or so (not into the wee hours, so I feel bagged the next morning).

    Also? Stay off the computer in the morning. See? Here it is, twenty minutes before I have to be somewhere and here I am, blabbering.

  9. posted by Alex Fayle on

    @Amy Guth – I agree completely! The only time I’m late is when I’m not looking forward to something – usually work-related. I especially new I had to change the focus of my business when I was late for my clients (as an organizer that was a very bad thing).

    @Erin – thanks for posting this. I spent the weekend with a friend who is always late, knows it and doesn’t care. A bunch of us went to a wedding together and this friend was driving – we had the bouquet but that didn’t matter to him – his attitude was that the wedding couldn’t start until we got there, which was 30 minutes after the wedding was supposed to start. When someone is late for things involving no one else, it doesn’t really matter, but when other people are involved, to me, it shows a complete lack of respect for those around the late person. I don’t want MY time to be wasted by someone who can’t get outside of their own head long enough to respect my time and arrive when they are supposed to.

  10. posted by Sue on

    I often was carpooling or caravaning with a woman who was chronically late. This was irritating to me, since I was usually 10 minutes early. We started telling her the meeting time 30 minutes earlier than it actually was, and that worked for a while. It finally came to the point where we just left on time, whether she was there or not, whether she freaked out later or not.

    “A lack of planning (or concern) on your part will not constitute an emergency on mine.”

  11. posted by s on

    those with chronic lateness make me physically angry.

  12. posted by PlantingOaks on

    I’m not sure if a routine is the antidote for dawdling.

    Myself, I find I’m speediest in the morning if I’m not following my routine – such as if I’m staying away from home, getting up extra-early for something, or preparing to go somewhere different.

    My current hypothesis is that breaking the routine gives me an adrenaline kick which helps me actually focus in the morning, as opposed to just drifting until I get to a part of my day that really requires my attention.

    Of course, I haven’t found a way to turn that analysis into better habits yet. I just can’t seem to fool myself into thinking each morning is new! and important!

  13. posted by Ms. Superiority on


    This is so weird because I just posted about my new morning routine yesterday on my own blog! Perfect timing. I have to say, as much as I love Unclutterer, I think this post was a little off the mark. If this chick is seriously running late all the time, there is NO WAY she is going to keep a log about what she does in the morning. The trick really is preparing everything the night before: clothes, shoes, handbag, lunches and anything else you may need. My mom used to make my brothers and I do this every school night and it always worked. The table was set for breakfast, our clothes were picked out, lunches made and backpacks packed. We were never late and we walked to school:) I follow the 15 minute rule: 15 minutes of tidying and preparing before I go to bed pretty much ensures that I will be all set to go in the morning.

    My new routine involves getting up pretty darn early to do laundry, take the dog for a run and make breakfast and coffee, but this isn’t for everyone (you know, like my sig. other)…I think preparing yourself the night before is the best way to go about stopping the morning craziness.

  14. posted by Jessica on

    What eerie timing! Just last night I finished “Never Be Late Again” and resolved to set my alarm ten minutes earlier, since I am usually 3-5 minutes late to work. I was doing great until I went to unlock my bike and discovered I didn’t have my keys… I had to break in through the kitchen window (4′ high, mind you), where my keys sat in the middle of the (perfectly clean) dining table. I have never in my life locked myself out of the apartment in the morning. The result? Five minutes late, yet again.

  15. posted by verily on

    I have to agree with Sue and s that chronically late people make me angry. It shows a lack of consideration on their part for others. No part of planning ahead is going to change these people until they start changing their motivations.

  16. posted by Michele on

    I was in an 80-hour per week graduate program and I had to leave the house at 6:40 a.m. after caring for the dogs, doing chores, making breakfast for everyone, etc. What I ended up doing was having a written before bed routine (a la Fly Lady) where I did everything I could before bed. In the morning, I used a written routine, but the really key thing was that I had times on it so that I knew immediately if I was running late. I left a cushion at the end in case of unforeseen problems. I don’t know how I would have managed without my timetable.

  17. posted by H... on

    i hate to get up in the morning right away. i push the snooze button a million time and then finally get up and get ready in a few minutes. I grab a bite. I never miss my bus. i seem to do well on last minute routine.

  18. posted by Kris on

    I am so like Brittany. I do some things to cope (I always make my lunch the night before, and I usually have my clothes picked out)…but it’s so easy to dawdle in the morning, and so rewarding. Morning’s the time of day when the house is quiet and it’s just me and the dogs (I get up about an hour and a half before my housemates; they’re usually just waking up when I’m walking out the door). I love long showers, I have a somewhat complicated Putting Stuff On My Body routine between moisturizers, makeup, and hair, and I’m just plain old slow in the morning. I find myself staring into space a lot.

    A big part of the problem is that I’m not really awake until I’ve been up for a couple of hours. I have problems with time anyway, and being half-asleep makes it worse. It’s not disorganization–I don’t spend any time looking for stuff–it’s just trying to keep myself moving.

  19. posted by Sue on

    The dawdling–if it’s only in the morning–may be the Night Owls trying to wake up to a functioning level, while the Morning Larks are zipping around being productive, punctual, precise and annoying to the Owls–LOL!

  20. posted by DJ on

    I have a friend who had the same problem, until she started getting up a half hour earlier. That may sound horrible to many, but it let her move more slowly, at her natural morning pace, and enjoy the paper quietly.

  21. posted by Beth on

    I agree, if she’s a dawdler (something I’m guilty of too) rearanging the schedule isn’t really going to help. If I move a whole laundry list of tasks into the night before, they either don’t get done or I dawdle and end up going to bed later than I should which just makes it harder to get up in the morning. Procrastination feeds procrastination.

    Upping the ante on the expectations of the people around you helps unless the dawdler is truly uncaring and disrespectful. Sometimes the easiest way for someone to change the behavior is to have the punishment for behaving that way be far worse than the benefits of no changing. Have the boyfriend stop making her lunch, or waiting for her to finish getting ready. Set a departure time and stick to it. No excuses. It’s tough love, but she gets left behind and goes hungry often enough, it might stick and she’ll change her behavior to adapt or at least force herself to rush when she knows her ride is serious about leaving without her.

  22. posted by Meghan on

    I’ve found showering and picking my clothes out the night before saves me LOADS of time in the morning.

    I also bring food Monday for the rest of the week’s lunches. I’ll just make the same sandwich or salad all week. Sometimes if I didn’t get around to the Sunday grocery shopping I’ll just eat lunch out on Monday, then go shopping that night for the week’s lunches.

    Another thing is, I have about 10 pairs of shoes under my desk at work in a little rolling bin, so I just throw my sneakers on in the morning and pick the appropriate shoes when I get to work.

  23. posted by Doreen on

    I find that two things have helped my morning:
    1. Keeping a small whiteboard on the fridge to write down anything that I need to remember before walking out the door. This also helps “rest my brain” since I no longer have to mentally run down any lists when I go to bed.
    2. Two magnetic clips, one with each of my sons’ names on them, so that any important school papers are within sight.
    Erin, I would love to send you a pic of my uncluttered fridge!

  24. posted by I Dawdle Too on

    I dawdle in the mornings as well. I am always slow in the mornings, and I used to always be really late every single morning too. I’m very much a night person. Maybe your friend is that way, maybe she just doesn’t look forward to what she does, where she goes, or in between.

    When I had my last job I didn’t like my long commute, so I delayed leaving. I knew I still had to make the drive, but I’d be late. Nothing ever changed it. Then I moved, switched jobs, cut my commute down to 15 minutes, and although I still drag myself in the mornings but I enjoy watching Saved by the bell reruns and I’m never late, even in bumper to bumper traffic. I just like taking my time because I would rather be relaxing in the morning watching the sun come up, not trying to prepare for sitting on my butt all day at a desk.

    I eat breakfast, then shower, then I get ready in the hallway since all my products are in the linen closet (864 sf house!) so I have a clear view of a clock. I can even see that same clock from the bathroom and bedroom closet. Then I make lunch the last 5 minutes before I walk out the door. I toast bread, spread on mayo, turkey, lettuce, grab a yogurt and fruit snack and put it all in a bag and walk out the door.

    I tried Flylady, and a number of different to do lists and bedtime routines. They never ever work. The only things that worked for me were to pretend like I needed to be somewhere sooner than I needed to be, or to actually do something I really enjoy doing. It drives my BF crazy, it even makes me a little crazy I can’t convince myself to change, but I’m a little better, and we can’t plan our entire lives by a clock right? Isn’t that what zenhabits said? 🙂

  25. posted by Matt on

    I eat breakfast standing up, and with the radio on, not the TV. If I sat down I wouldn’t get up again.

  26. posted by Linda on

    1. Do as much as possible the night before

    2. Get enough sleep. If you keep pressing the snooze button and want to go back to sleep– that means you’re not getting the sleep your body needs. If at all possible (no excuses!) the schedule needs to be adjusted so you get enough sleep

    3. Drink a little bit of juice when you first wake up, to boost your blood sugar after having gone close to 12 hours without eating or drinking anything.

  27. posted by Glen on

    I am exactly like Brittany. And I am both a Night Owl and a polychrome, so mornings tend to be the worst for me. Checklists have helped; I forget less (one time I even forget to put on deodorant). And I’ve used the Oprah article tip about working backward to figure out when I need to start.

    Ignoring the people who say things like “people with chronic lateness make me physically angry” (whatever that means) also helps. My ex-boyfriend was that way, and the pressure made me even more late. Instead, I learned to accept that it’s going to take me two hours to get out of the house in the morning and that I need to add another twenty percent to whatever time estimate I give to be somewhere. Acceptance takes the pressure off, which oddly means I’m more likely to be on time.

  28. posted by Jay on

    Brittany has no need to find a solution to her lateness. Although she dawdles, can’t get out of the house on time, is late, etc., she does not appear to have suffered any negative consequences for her lateness. Only when her lateness hurts her will she have any incentive to change.

    Even though her lateness is starting to wear thin on her boyfriend, he still waits for her and, in fact, goes so far as to make her lunch for her. There is no indication that her employer (I assume she is going to a job) has reprimanded or fired her. Her employer clearly believes that her lateness is not a problem.

    Being late is selfish and rude. If others are bothered by the lateness, they should leave without her (boyfriend), reprimand and/or fire her (employer), or otherwise show her that her lateness is unacceptable.

  29. posted by PlantingOaks on

    I’m so with you Matt!

    I think the outside pressure is the answer here. There really is no *need* to be on time. She knows it. I don’t know if manufacturing artificial consequences (like boyfriend leaving at the set time no matter what) would work either. If there’s no real pressure to get out by time X, it will just cause more stress on the relationship.

    And morning (or whenever you’re tired, depending on your own rhythms) is the hardest time to be virtuous for the sake of it. So saying ‘you’re a horrible late person and I hate you for it’ probably doesn’t help.

    Likewise, I think getting things done the night before could easily make things *worse*. If there are less things to do, there’s less pressure, and more incentive to dawdle.

    Maybe the best solution would be to have her find a different carpool or means of transportation? A bus schedule cannot be argued with.

    I do like the juice idea.

  30. posted by s on

    “ignoring the people who say things like “people with chronic lateness make me physically angry” (whatever that means) also helps.”

    It probably means exactly what you think it does, Glen. And surprise — I’m a night owl too, and not anywhere *close* to a morning person. But have I ever had a lateness problem? No. Now, have I ever been late? Of course. There’s a monumental difference.

    “Being late is selfish and rude.”

    Couldn’t agree more, Jay.

  31. posted by Kellie on

    I’ve lived in Switzerland for nearly 8 years and being late is generally not well-tolerated. Or maybe it is that being punctual and reliable is highly valued. When all the public transportation runs on-time to the second and it’s possible to be somewhere in exactly 13 minutes (not 10, not about 15), even delivery and repair people show up at the time they scheduled. Being is just not necessary and is considered disrespectful.
    I’ve learned the value of backtiming the essential routine it takes to get out the door. And being realistic when I do set times and make commitments to make sure I can live up to them. It makes a huge difference. It also shows friends that I respect and value their time and it earns me (and my time) the same respect from them. It really is much less stressful to accept whatever it takes to plan and to be on time.
    Also, I have to agree with the thought from Amy that there is more going on behind the “I dawdle” excuse. Maybe figuring out what she does get out the door on time for would help Brittany figure out what’s keeping her from doing the same when it comes to work. If that doesn’t help, as Planting Oaks suggests, switch to the bus.

  32. posted by Dasha on

    There are many great suggestions in the post and comments. I had a similar problem, until I figured out my “secret.” I’m not actually awake in the morning! So what I do now is, as soon as I get out of bed, I stretch and do 15 minutes on my exercise bike. By minute 10 or so, I start to wake up, and by the end, I’m my normal, middle of the day self, not a groggy mess. I cut my shower time from 20 minutes to 3 minutes in one week. It’s also really healthy. So I’d recommend adding some simple execises as soon as you get out of bed – just a few minutes of stretches or something should do the trick. See if it works.

  33. posted by Helen on

    I agree with Jay. She needs consequences for her tardiness before she will change. She also needs to take responsibility for her timekeeping and others should stop being ‘enablers’.

  34. posted by Glen on

    “Physically angry” confused me because, while I understand that someone can be mentally sick or physically sick, anger is, to me, an emotion. I took it as I should be worried that someone is going to punch me if I’m late. Seems a bit of an over-reaction. On the other hand, I could understand someone wanting to end a relationship if the other person was always late if timeliness is important to you. For example, I’ve changed doctors because the office never ran on time. But I have friends who are always late, and as I value them for other reasons, I just adjust my expectations (like go to a museum with them rather than to go a movie).

    As for Brittany, I meant to suggest that she take a look at what she needs in the morning to get her going. Pressuring her may just backfire like it did for me. I would forget things and spend a lot of time rushing around pointlessly because I was stressed. Making a checklist, figuring out what I really needed (breakfast and newspaper; stretching did not work for me), and working backwards from the time I need to be at work to figure out when I needed to wake up helped me to stop “dawdling” (which was actually thinking about what I needed to do next or later that day or what I had already forgotten or just being mad at whomever was nagging me). For appointments, I realized that I have a poor sense of elapsed time, so I add about 20% on in order to give myself a buffer. It wasn’t that I meant to be rude or didn’t value the relationship, I honestly thought then that it would take me 20 min to get from point A to point B. Now I’d add 5 min, and take a book in case I’m early.

    I really liked the Oprah article that Marla linked to, as I do think that people (whether culturally or innately) have different perceptions of time. So accept yourself and make the adjustments that work for you (and don’t be afraid to experiment to find them).

  35. posted by Dream Mom DBA on

    I can understand Brittany’s issue. Lateness used to be a problem for me in the morning and still is on rare occasion. It really bothered me too. I began to read everything I could as to what I could do to fix it. I knew it was a sign of disrespect and it’s not o.k. to be late.

    Certainly, I was doing many things right-I’ve had a morning routine, landing pad and have all my tasks mapped out but still…

    What I found most helpful was timing how long it took me to do certain activities. They say if you time something three times and take the average, you’ll know how long it takes. I did that for one or two items that I thought took much less time than they did and realized it took longer. The Fly Lady has a timer that counts “up” so you can hit the start button when you start an activity and stop when you are finished and you’ll know how long an activity really takes.

    Next, I realized I was always trying to get “one more thing” done in the morning. Now, I limit it to two items that I’ll get done prior to leaving the house and it’s much better. Before, if I had to make an appt or call, I might think it would take me 3-6 minutes and it was taking 20 to 25 minutes to address the issue. I was also trying to get way too much done before I left the house.

    I also realized that like it or not, I am not a morning person and I’ve added more time in there. I set my alarm 30 minutes ahead and give myself time to wake up gradually. I also give myself enough time to do my morning routine plus get two items off my list as well as time to exercise. I freeze a lot of food and also have a “30 second lunch” for days when I am in a hurry. It’s nothing more than 2 homemade oat bran muffins (100 cal/each) that I freeze ahead, a piece of fruit and a diet iced tea but it helps for days I am running behind.

    I can’t really go to bed earlier since I am a care giver to my son and he gets meds four times a day, the last at midnight. Also, some nights I am up a lot so I am genuinely tired in the morning.

    I am rarely late any more but I still have to work at it.

  36. posted by Briana on

    Dasha has a really good point about using exercise to get you going. A few years ago I used to run 2 miles in the morning and it took me 1.5 hours to get up, run, shower, and leave the house. I don’t go running anymore but it STILL takes me 1.5 hours to get ready. Go figure.

  37. posted by Steve on

    Unclutterer: “In the drastic measure department, do you need a different job that doesn’t care what time you get in to work?”

    What kind of job doesn’t care what time you get to work? (I’m not referring to telecommuting–that’s not “getting to work.”)

  38. posted by Stina on

    My alarm clock doesn’t have a snooze button! It solves a lot of problems. I also recommend getting a cat. That will wake you up, hehe.

  39. posted by PlantingOaks on

    Steve – ‘What kind of job doesn’t care what time you get to work?’

    Most computer programming jobs I’ve seen don’t care what time you get to work – or what hours your work. So, if you roll in at 10:00, you just stay until six that day. Flex time is pretty standard. As long as you’re getting your 40 hours in, and you’re there for meetings, people don’t care.
    Also, meetings before 9:00 a.m. are rare, as for some reason, it seems a lot of people in the industry are night owls.

    I can’t speak for other industries, but four out of four companies I’ve worked with in computers are schedule-free.

    (btw, I was raised on the mantra ‘to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be left behind’, and am nuts about punctuality. It drives my husband batty. But my job doesn’t have a ‘start time’ so I am slow in the mornings)

  40. posted by brittany on

    Hello, all. Thank you for your interest in my little “situation”.

    To clarify one point, I am in fact a pretty punctual person. In fact, I am usually the one waiting for others to show up at a meeting or event and, though I work someplace where getting in to the office at a certain hour is a lower priority, I am still usually the first one in most mornings.

    The issue is more that, the older I get, the earlier and earlier I have to wake up to keep this schedule. Time just seems to get away from me in my morning routine, stretching it out. I will certainly be taking many of your suggestions under advisement and will report back on any great successes I have.

  41. posted by Jeni on

    Something I didn’t see mentioned by anyone else – cut down on the beauty routine. Getting a wash-and-go haircut and using makeup that multitasks (or just reducing the amount/complexity of makeup) can cut down on a lot of time in the morning routine. In my heyday, I’d spend over well over an hour and a half getting ready (not counting the shower, or breakfast, or anything else). Now, with short hair and wearing minimal makeup, it’s about 10 minutes.

    Of course, I used that extra hour and change to sleep late and play around on the computer in the morning. Had to get a timer to solve that problem….

  42. posted by philosophizer on

    Hi guys! I’m that person you all want to kill. I’m chronically 3 minutes late, no matter what I do. (Seriously. It takes 15 minutes to get ready and 10 to drive to work, and I get up 30 minutes before I have to be there, and it never fails – 3 minutes behind. And yes, I’ve timed the getting ready and the commute.) It’s an extreme answer, but have any of you been checked for ADHD? I found out at age 23 I had it, and so much just clicked. It’s hard to be on time when time doesn’t work right for you.

    Yes, I know. Excuses, excuses. Yes, I realize I’m a bad person. But just think about it, k? If you have it, finding out and getting treated, whether with medication or with counseling, or even just by learning about yourself and knowing that it’s not your fault, can change your outlook on life.

  43. posted by Lynn on

    This may seem kind of far out, but if you can’t get going in the morning, you might want to get tested for hypothyroidism. I found that I could not get going or even wake up fully for hours after I physically got out of bed. Had the staring off into space problem too. I got on synthetic thyroid hormones, and I am much more awake. I’m still a little slow as I wait for my thyroid hormone pill to kick in, so just set the alarm clock an hour earlier. In that time, I can snooze, stare off into space, or whatever my sleepy brain wants to do.

  44. posted by Mark on

    Nothing like the Navy to get your sleepy self out of the rack… I’m a night owl too, but had to (quickly!) learn to just “get with the program” and force myself to get up and moving.

    So, truthfully, all of our rationale about being late really doesn’t cut it anymore… we can each decide to change our behaviour and habits. And then follow through!

  45. posted by Jayne on

    I’m a night owl, and I’ve always had a very hard time waking up in the morning and getting anywhere on time. It not only annoyed others, but annoyed me as well. I could function, but the fog didn’t lift until about 10:30, and then I was perky. Then the doctor found out my thyroid wasn’t functioning as it should and put me on thyroid medication. What a difference that has made. It still takes me about 2 hours to get up and get to work, but I’m perky when I get there. A cup of coffee helps, but I don’t NEED it to wake up. I’ve been an on-time and different person now for 4 years. Wow.

  46. posted by LeslieB on

    This is a wonderful article and discussion, with a nice mix of extreme and middle of the road options.

    I want to thank Glen, who said “But I have friends who are always late, and as I value them for other reasons, I just adjust my expectations (like go to a museum with them rather than to go a movie).”

    I am one of those folks who can’t make time work the way many others can, and I continue to strive to make it on time. It has often stressed me out to the point of being willing to give up the friendship rather than face another round of criticism. I have A LOT of talents and contributions to enhance situations and relationships, but being on time is just not at the top of the list.

  47. posted by Abbi on

    I agree with Leslie, thank you Glen! That seems wonderfully mature. I tend to have a dawdling problem and a slight chronic lateness problem (meaning 3-10 minutes late, not 30 +) and reading these responses got my heart pounding. I already feel badly about myself for it and chances are your friends do too. I understand that being late is perceived as rude and I can definitely see why but it’s not as simple as “change your attitude! just stop being late!”. Wow thanks, you’ve found the secret to life! Why not just accept that people function differently and perceive things differently than you? People need to accept and work with their basic nature to overcome a bad habit like lateness. Judgmental friends who harp on them constantly don’t really help the situation. If someone’s lateness problem bothers you so much that it clouds that person’s positive attributes maybe you should not be friends with them or change your own attitude!

  48. posted by Sue on

    Well, since the discussion is revived…

    Being chronically late when you know people are waiting for you *is* rude. It says to others that you don’t value them or their time. You may not mean it, but that’s exactly the message you are sending. Your “judgemental” friends are just tired of being treated like they don’t matter at all.

    I used to commute with a person who would always arrive at our meeting point late. I finally figured out he completely underestimated how long it took to get from his house to our meeting point. It was annoying to me but I learned to just deal quietly because no one at work would reprimand us when we arrived late.

    I’m not the perkiest person in the morning, but I figured out how to make myself get out the door in a timely manner. I don’t hit snooze anymore. I streamlined my routine – I don’t try to get anything done except what is needed to get me out the door. I used to eat breakfast in front of the TV, watching the morning news. I would inevitably wait for the weather report or other interesting upcoming story and waste time. Now I eat breakfast in the kitchen, with no distractions. I switched to picking out my clothing the night before. I may have days when I completely swith outfits in the morning, but most days I grab what I laid out the night before. I have my bag ready to go, my lunch is either prepared the night before or made up of prepackaged food that I can just grab. I also have things that I can skip if I am particularly slow one morning. I may not have time for makeup, but I’ll always have a few seconds for sunscreen.

    If you are a dawdler, a routine really can help. Pare it down to the bare necessities, figure out how much time everything takes, and make sure you are out of bed with enough time to get through it. Dawdlers might need to get up earlier so they can move at their slower pace. They may also need to eliminate the extras that slow them down – like me with the morning news.

  49. posted by Abbi on

    Being late all the time is rude. No one is arguing that. How late might be up for debate. Does 5 minutes really matter? Probably not but if it ALWAYS is happening than I can see how that behavior will get under your skin.

    My point was that some people have a harder time than others figuring out how to manage this life skill. Just like some people are more natural than others with directions. Does that mean if you struggle with directions you should just walk around aimlessly until you end up somewhere? No. It’s not an excuse but is it helpful to get “physically angry” about it or suggest that the tardy person is just lazy/stupid/intentionally rude? I bet it’s likely there is something that you struggle with that your friends have a strength in.

    I appreciate the specific routine suggestions that show how you identify what is holding you back and work around it. I keep reading the “no-snooze-button” suggestion and I think I need to try that!

  50. posted by Sue on

    How rude someone’s lateness habit is depends on the circumstances. In many cases, a few minutes really isn’t a big deal. But, there are cases where it is. We have regular staff meetings. There is one boss who is always 5 to 10 minutes late. This wouldn’t be a problem if we’d just start the meetings without her, but the entire office ends up sitting in the room waiting for her to show up. If the person in charge would start the meetings without her, I’d be okay with it. But I find myself getting annoyed with both the late boss and the person running the meeting since the rest of us made the effort get to the conference room on-time. It’s gotten so bad now that most of the office doesn’t even start getting ready for these meetings until several minutes after their official start time. No one else bothers showing up on time anymore. If you walked into the room at the start time, you’d find it empty. And now the boss knows that she can be even later than she was when people arrived on-time, so she’s still arriving 5-10 minutes after the room is full. Only now our meetings start 20 minutes late. That’s a chronic slight lateness problem that has impacted an entire office.

    In this case, I’m also more annoyed because the boss in question doesn’t even seem to care that she’s holding up everyone else. When someone is chronically a little late but obviously apologetic about it, that’s a lot better and goes a long way towards negating the “your time doesn’t matter to me” message.

    I have another friend who is so chronically late that people regularly end up waiting 1-2 hours for her to show up. If we have evening plans and she manages to show up before midnight, everyone’s amazed. That’s an extreme case.

    As for my commuter friend – he was chronically 15-30 minutes late in the morning. That’s fairly significant when you’re trying to get to work on time. I never harped on him, but I was annoyed. He would have benefited from evaluating his normal day. If he timed himself for a few days he’d realize that it took about 30 minutes to get to our meeting point, not the 10 minutes he thought it took. And once again, he wasn’t really apologetic for making me wait every day.

    I know that you can’t just snap your fingers together and make the problem go away. The first step is to acknowledge it. My examples above are people who seem completely oblivious to their affect on the people around them.

    The second step is to evalute your own actions and try to figure out what you can do differently. Throwing up your hands and saying “it’s just my nature” isn’t really an answer, any more than saying “I’ll just decide not to be late anymore”.

  51. 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.

  52. posted by Manage Your Hats on

    These are great suggestions. I also posted recently on this topic over at Manage Your Hats:

  53. 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 […]

  54. 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 […]

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

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

  56. 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 […]

  57. 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.

  58. 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 […]

  59. 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 […]

  60. 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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