First thing in the morning I don’t want to do too much thinking to get myself and my family out the door. I want to save that brain power for work. As much as possible I’ve tried to make my mornings run on autopilot by doing a few things the night before. This way I don’t have to scream across the house to tell my husband where the baby’s socks are or scramble around grabbing paperwork and other work items from my desk.
Getting to work calm, cool, and collected can help you communicate more clearly, make better decisions and complete tasks more efficiently. A successful workday can in turn have a positive effect on time at home with your family. You won’t be thinking about that report you weren’t able to complete or the 12 emails you didn’t respond to and can be more present for family time and after school activities.
How smooth, or bumpy, your morning is can set the tone for the entire day. There are many things that are out of your control that can derail your morning schedule and mood – kid refusing to wear boots in subzero temperatures or a 5-mile long traffic jam on the way to the office.
Spending just 30 minutes every evening getting ready for the next morning can help you sail smoothly through your morning – and deal with unexpected events with calm and grace.
Here are five things I do every evening to have a smooth morning and workday. Disclaimer: These tips work about 75% of the time – because, you know, life happens and I’m human too!
Set the Pot, Kettle, or Blender: One of the first things I do is fill up my coffee pot so all I have to do in the morning is push a button. If you have one with a timer, set it. Got a K-cup machine? Top it off with water and place your K-cup in the holder. I’ve even gone so far as putting my travel mug next to the coffee maker. It may sound minor but having it all right there means I make sure that mug is clean and ready to go! On occasion my husband might even pour it for me – an added bonus! Are you a tea drinker? Or maybe you make a smoothie in the morning? Whatever your beverage of choice, get all the components ready – down to the smallest detail.
Pick Your Clothes (and the kids’ too!): I like to pull my clothes out of the closet the night before and set them on my dresser. Sure, picking clothes in the morning just takes a few minutes but not having to give it ANY thought saves me about 5-10 minutes of figuring out where that one blouse is (oh, it’s in the laundry). I also try and pick out clothes for my daughter. Again, one less thing to think about and my husband is able to help without too much fuss – unless he puts her dress on backwards!
Clear the Clutter: Most evenings I systematically go through the kitchen and living room to clear any clutter that made its way onto the counter tops, table or floor. All toys are put away – the goal is not organization, I just want to be able to see the floor. In the kitchen I make sure the kitchen table is clear for breakfast and no dirty dishes are left in the sink. The biggest downer for me in the morning is seeing a dirty dish in the sink. Here is the key to clearing the clutter – I give myself 10 minutes to do it. If forces me to prioritize the clutter and be ok with what I didn’t get to. Tomorrow is another day.
Run the Dishwasher: I run the dishwasher virtually every. single. night. – no matter how full or empty it might be – 99% of the time it’s jam packed. That way my husband or I empty it first thing in the morning and we have all day to fill it up again. Plus, there’s plenty of room in the evening for all the after-dinner dishes. This makes clean up faster so we can enjoy the rest of the evening together, instead of scrubbing plates.
Pack It Up: I typically have three bags I leave the house with every morning – my computer bag, a tote bag for my lunch and other work items, and a bag for my daughter’s things she will need at her Grandmother’s house. I pack all of these bags and set them to the side – usually on the dining room table, otherwise my daughter will do a great job of unpacking them all in about 30 seconds! I will add any non-perishable snack or lunch items for her and me as well. Any perishable foods I’ll group together in one area of the fridge, so we can just grab and go.
While these tips are not extraordinary, having these simple evening to-do’s help keep my mornings somewhat smooth. And, I can roll with the punches a bit better when life throws something unexpected my way.
Do you take some time in the evening to plan for the next day? What do you do? What routines have you put in place to get yourself and your family out the door without too much craziness? Tell me your tips and strategies!
Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels.