We know that our mornings have great potential to start off our day in a super productive way, yet a lot of us still wake up 20 minutes before it's time to leave and scramble through a routine. Yet, if created correctly, your morning routine can keep you organized for the rest of the day. Rather than jostling for a shower or slothing around in front of the TV, you can use that a.m. time wisely and set out the foundation for the beginning of your workday, ensuring that you'll make the next nine to five as smooth and easy as possible. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, right?
The only thing that's required is time. So set that alarm clock for a good hour before you have to leave for work, make sure you have a planner and pen, and get ready to tidy your day before it even starts. There are obvious reasons to do this, like it can give you time to start your to-do list and check your appointments, but it can also help you manage your energy levels better and schedule tasks in a way that will make them feel less like a chore. So without further ado, below are 11 tips for a morning routine that will help you stay organized for the day.
1. Do Something Productive During Breakfast
Rather than scrolling through Pinterest or watching cartoons (just me?) skip the loafing around and do something productive instead that will help you get ahead of schedule during your day. Lifestyle expert Amanda S. Gluck, founder of lifestyle blog Fashionable Hostess, advised, "Sit down at your desk to answer emails rather than browsing your phone." After all, if you're ahead of schedule that means you have some extra cushion time in your day for when you run behind.
2. Create Your List
While chances are you know what to do off the top of your head, writing down a to-do list will keep things going way more smoothly. Gluck said, "Not to be totally old fashioned, but keep a list of everything you need to do that day (and that week) and check them off as you go." That way you don't have the added pressure of having to remember, and it's a sure-fire way to stay on top of things.
3. Keep That To-Do List On A Time Table
Take it a step further and create deadlines for every item on you to-do list, which will help make sure you stay on track. Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, told the Huffington Post, "Assign times to your to-do list, and monitor your progress against your goals. There’s no point in setting goals in the morning if you don’t check in on them." While it's helpful that you have them listed, putting an end-date to each one will make sure you're staying on schedule.
4. Schedule Things According To Your Energy Levels
Some of us are more creative in the mornings, while others are ready to tackle the analytical stuff right with their first cup of coffee. Create your to-do time table according to your own energy levels. Lifestyle writer James Clear from Lifehack offered, "Manage your energy, not your time. If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you are better at doing certain tasks at certain times." So when you're creating your schedule for the day, keep that in mind.
5. Do Your Worst Three Tasks First
Just as soon as you get to the office, tackle your worst three tasks of the day first to get them out of the way. Why? According to Bradberry, "Spend your morning on something that requires a high level of concentration that you don’t want to do, and you’ll get it done in short order." By getting them finished you'll know they won't be able to throw you off of schedule later in the day because of procrastination, keeping you organized.
6. Now, Pick Three Of Your Major Accomplishments
What's something you totally want to kick butt in today and take off your to-do list? Entrepreneur writer James Reinhart at Entrepreneur recommended, "Decide on the three things that you'd like to accomplish in the next 12 hours in order for you to feel like the day was a success." Even if not every day will be a total knock out, at least you're getting in the habit of planning for major accomplishments and making them happen.
7. Use Your Commute
If you take a bus or a train, use that commute to tackle any time-heavy tasks, like answering emails or checking on projects. David Lavenda from Entrepreneur pointed out, "It’s crazy not to use commute time to winnow out time-intensive tasks." Those tasks usually are mindless but take a big chunk of time at the office, so using that in between downtime is ideal to tackle them.
8. Make Sure You Don't Drop Any Appointments
When you've got a busy day ahead of you, it can be easy to forget that one meeting in the afternoon or drinks with friends after work. To not drop the ball, make sure you go over your appointments for the day early in the a.m. Gluck offers, "Have a calendar handy so you can keep track of your commitments." Bonus points if it's a pretty one!
9. Take Care Of Any Hangnails
Whether that's making your bed or tackling loose ends from yesterday's work day, tidy up any quick snags from that morning or the previous day to make sure your day will start out smoothly. Lifestyle writer S.J. Scott at self development site Develop Good Habits pointed out, "Most of these can be fixed in a matter of minutes, yet we allow ourselves to ignore them and let them sit in the back of our minds for the rest of the day." Look back on yesterday's to-do's and see what needs to be taken care of, and you'll have less to worry about.
10. Clean Up Your Desk
To help you start the next day as fresh as possible, make sure to organize your work space at the end of the day. While it can be tempting to just close that laptop and run, doing a quick tidy will help you start your next day without any hiccups. Gluck advised, "Organize your space at the end of the day so when you get started the next day you feel fresh!" It's a small move but it will help loads.
11. Systematize All These Actions
It's not enough to just do these things once in a while — you need to turn it into a habit! Executive coach Jeff Boss told Entrepreneur, "To be top notch in any field requires strict focus and a consistent effort, which comes from deliberate practices conducted at specific times over and over again. In other words, practice doesn’t make perfect — perfect practice makes perfect." So to be truly organized and on top of your work schedule, you need to do this every morning.
While you might have to wake up a little earlier than usual, it'll be worth it.
Images: Amanda S. Gluck (5)