Getting up on a workday morning with energy and a spring in your step can be a challenge, if not a significant struggle for many.
You don’t need to be ‘alarmed’… there are a number of techniques and simply strategies to make your mornings more effective and efficient.
What gets in your way of easy weekday morning?
Do you have a baby or kids that you have to get ready before you can do your own thing?
Do you get up and tell yourself that you don’t have enough time for breakfast or a workout?
#1 Why You Selfish Little…
Let’s talk about being selfish. Yes, I mean you! You need to take care of your own needs before the needs of others.
Like they tell you on the airplane during the safety demonstration, should the the oxygen mask drop down in the case of a cabin pressure change, secure it to your own face before helping others — even your own child.
Why? Because if you fail to supply yourself with oxygen and you pass out you can’t help anyone else.
While this airplane example is not as severe as getting up on a Monday morning, the dramatic comparison is helpful.
What strategies can you employ the night before to make your mornings less rushed and stressful?
#2 Count Sheep to Sleep
The most important strategy is getting enough rest, in particular going to sleep at the same time every night.
The more you mess up your sleep schedule, the more you feel like you have jet lag. Our bodies prefer habit and one of the best habits you can do for restorative health is to have a regular sleep and wake schedule.
#3 Make a Short List
On that list note what must be done first thing in the morning so that you can get to work, the gym, or wherever you’re going on time.
If you have children, you probably have a pretty solid routine already with what you need to accomplish to get them off to school or daycare.
Do you have any files, books, device, or meals that you need for the next day?
This begs the question – what’s on that list that you can get ready before you go to bed?
#4 Pack Up your Things and Get Out
If you’re already tired before going to bed, instead of watching TV, you might as will stumble around and get those things ready:
- Pack lunches and snacks — it helps if you have meals already prepared.
- Pack your briefcase or knapsack.
- Get your gym bag ready with fresh gym clothes, a change of socks, underwear and all of your toiletries.
- Lay out your clothes on the back of a chair that you plan to wear.
- Put a pan on the stove, dishes on the counter, food for breakfast on the top shelf of the fridge, all ready to use to make breakfast in the morning.
- Get all the dry and non-perishable items ready to make a healthy protein shake, including your shaker bottle.
Have you run out of any supplies getting ready for the next day? Add these to a shopping list and set a time in the calendar to go shopping, or leverage your time by having someone else do it for you.
You know as well as I do that it’s much more awesome to wake up in the morning with little to prepare, and less to worry about, before heading out to work or school.
Worry and stress often comes from being unprepared. If you’re freaking out because you’re late or don’t have enough time to pack a lunch, that does’t bode well for the rest of your day! What an ugly way to feel shortly after waking up.
#5 You Snooze, You Lose
Another morning strategy is to get up immediately with the alarm.
If you’re one of those, ‘Just five more minutes’ sleepy-heads, hitting that snooze button, two, three or more times, not only are you going to be late and unprepared, but ‘snoozing’ messes with your restfulness.
Have you ever noticed that if you sleep another 20 or 30 minutes after the alarm you feel groggy for hours afterwards, if not the rest of the day?
#6 There’s an App for That
There are a number of useful apps that you can use to measure your sleep activity. Some sleep apps for the iPhone use the phone’s build in feature to measure movement by simply placing the phone on your mattress. For more advanced measurements you can purchase a device that you wear around your torso like a heart rate monitor, which attaches to your phone.
Why would you do this?
The sleep app senses when you’re coming out of sleep and determines the best time for you to wake up. This is like an anti-snooze alarm. Have you ever started waking up before your alarm but then fell back to sleep, only to be jarred awake by the alarm, wishing you had of got up the first time you started waking up?
This is how the app works to improve rested waking. You choose your wake time, and the app alarm is adjusts to a 30-minute window leading up to your chosen wake time. Instead of being jarred awake, you wake up in a relaxed, ready, and happier state.
By the way, if this is too complicated, do yourself a favour: get an alarm clock with a pleasant alarm sound. Or a clock radio. There is nothing more ‘alarming’ to your nervous system that waking up to this sound.
Seriously! After I found this link I couldn’t close the window fast enough. What a horrible sound!
We’ve talked about what to do the night before, how to get a great sleep, and how to best wake up. What’s next?
#7 From a Warm Bed to a Hot Shower
How do you start your morning most efficiently with your first foot out of bed?
Do you head straight to your phone or computer and check your messages and Facebook?
That might make you feel good but is it necessary? I’m not judging here, I’m just asking you to self assess. Those things take time, and it depends how much available time you have on a weekday morning.
If you’re short on time you could probably do this elsewhere – while commuting if you’re taking public transit, while eating your breakfast, or sitting on the throne.
Essentially you want to prioritize what’s most important first thing in the morning. If you need to shower, eat and the rush out the door, then I suggest that order — shower immediately out of bed (maybe get a big glass of water first) to fully wake up and stimulate your senses, helping you to move more quickly.
By that time you’ll probably be hungry. Depending on what you’re making for breakfast you might be able to pack your meals for work at the same time.
The ‘Rest’ is Up to You
If you workout first thing (gym or a run) and come back home before work, then you have more of a time luxury than others — or you have a clear sense of you priorities and what you must do first thing, for you.
However, if you’re heading to the gym before work get your meals, gym bag, work clothes, and so on all ready the night before. Instead of rushing, be rested in the morning.
Plan your day the night before. Take care of your own needs (your health and happiness) before those of others (career, family), and you will have a much happier, and less stressful day.
- Hacking sleep: Engineering a high quality, restful night
- How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off
- Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed
© 2013 Darren Stehle. All Rights Reserved.