Are you the type of person who’s always forgetting something after a hasty morning departure to work or school?
The new year is a great time to set goals to increase productivity. You don’t have to be a morning person to use the wee hours more effectively.
Here are four simple tips to help you step up your morning game, and set yourself up for a happier, more productive day!
1. Minimize Time-Sucking Tasks in the AM
Morning routines are full of time-consuming activities like choosing an outfit, making breakfast and packing lunch. These simple decisions and tasks take far longer than they should when you’re operating under an early-morning haze. Eliminate some stress and save some time in the morning by taking care of these chores the night before.
Decide on what you are going to wear the next day, and lay all of it out ahead of time. This reduces the amount of time you need to spend getting ready, and you will look and feel more put together than if you left the fashion decisions for the morning.
Make and pack your lunch ahead of time so all you have to do is grab it and go. Select breakfast options that can be prepared the night before, and taken along on your morning commute. Not only is this a major morning time saver, but you are far more likely to make a healthy choice when you prep ahead of time. If you’ve already got a breakfast smoothie ready to go, you won’t be so tempted by that donut when you get into the office.
Choose a set location for important items like your keys, phone and wallet so they are right where you expect them to be in the morning. A little extra effort the day before makes for a much smoother morning, prevents you from forgetting anything you need, and gets you out the door faster.
2. Make Your To-Do List The Night Before
Instead of planning out your day first thing in the morning, try making your to-do list for the next day before bed. When you wake up feeling stressed, it’s easy to skip the list-making altogether and dive into your work so you feel productive right away.
By making your to-do list in the evening, you will already know exactly what you need to accomplish that day, and you won’t need to waste time in the morning deciding what to work on first. Making your list in the evening can also help reduce stress and stop your mind from running a loop of all the things you need to get done when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Your to-do list should consist of a “must list” and a “wish list”. The “must list” is a list of tasks that are time-sensitive and must get done tomorrow. Your “wish list” is everything else. Making your to-do list the night before helps you determine what your real priorities are (your “must list”), and mentally prepares you for the day ahead.
3. Stay Unplugged
As tempting as it is to get ahead of email as soon as you wake up, don’t reach for your smartphone first thing in the morning.
If you’ve made your to-do list from the night before, you should already know what your top priorities are for day. There will always be multiple demands on your time, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by incoming requests and busy-work. While it’s important to be responsive to colleagues, you should dedicate the beginning of your day to your own priorities.
On top of email, most people have a myriad of social platforms to check every day as well. These can be a massive distraction and time-suck. Leave the Facebooking for later in the day, and only after everything on your “must list” is complete!
4. Listen Up
Your daily morning routine is a prime time to do a little creative multitasking and learn something new!
Podcasts and audiobooks are great for keeping your knowledge up-to-date without eating up precious time. It’s easy to put one on in the background while you are getting ready in the morning, and they are a great way to spice up a long commute as well.
Take some time over the weekend to make sure they’re working on your computer, tablet, or phone. Find some shows that align with your career or hobbies that will benefit you in your career pursuit!