There’s a reason so many movies start with a montage that could be titled “main character oversleeps.”
Those precious first minutes, often called the most important of the day, have the power to set the tone for the ensuing 15 hours—for better or for worse. If you’re like me, for every world-beating week of 6:30 a.m. runs and premade oatmeal there are twice as many characterized by crazed post-snooze scrambling and harried outfit choices.
On most days, I feel like it would be a vast improvement to just have everything about 20% more together, starting with those first few moments of consciousness.
Most morning routines advice comes from household name-caliber luminaries. They meditate, get salon blowouts, and at least one part of their daily regime usually involves some kind of support staff. Don’t get me wrong: I do, actually, want to know what Kim Kardashian West, and Jessica Alba, and even Margaret Thatcher does (or did) first thing. But the chance that it’s going to be something I can immediately emulate is slim-to-pretty-much-none.
For those of us who have a boss but maybe not a personal yoga guru, who try to “dress for the job we want” but have yet to achieve the salary bracket of someone with a personal shopper, who are focused on efficiency and self-improvement but also have to take the train to work, the shovel-ready lifestyle advice can be scarce.
To that end, I cast a wide net asking other young professionals for the hacks, tips, gadgets, gizmos, habits, and products that get them to work on time with dry hair and a clear head nine times out of 10. True, none of the wisdom that appears here is rocket science—it’s more a grab bag of “things people have tried that work for them and might work for you”– and the more optimized among us are probably already doing one-to-several of these things.
But for those of us still trying to achieve that elusive 20% margin of improvement, grab a pen and get ready to rethink Monday morning.
1. Bedtime schedules are not just for sleep training infants.
It turns out the most valuable part of your morning routine can be the few quick tasks you knock out the night before. The most oft-repeated piece of morning routine insight seems to be that everybody who’s anybody is laying their clothes out the night before.
“I’m a zombie in the morning,” one woman shared, “and cannot pick outfits last minute, so I put everything out on my chair the night before, down to the underwear, shoes and jewelry. I even put a pair of contact lenses out on the sink.”
The same goes for lunch or snacks you might be planning to pack. Dumping those sunflower seeds into a plastic bag will take you 30 seconds in your pre-bed prep, but they’re 30 seconds that will seem awfully easy to skip in the morning—all but guaranteeing a 4 p.m. trip to the vending machine for less virtuous vittles.
For a fancy twist, think of keeping your keys, transit pass, phone, etc. in the same place as emulating the mise-en-place methods of the highest caliber chefs.
2. Forget shining—rising is the bigger issue.
This is the part that has a lot of us stumped. Who can remember your best of intentions for starting the day bright and early when just a poke of the snooze button can extend the previous night a few blissful minutes?
While the cell phone alarm on which so many of us depend can be useful, removing your phone from your bedroom altogether—eliminating that Pavlovian response to an email buzz or the temptation to gaze into that blazing circadian death screen for a few minutes at 3 a.m.–was a top piece of advice. Even better? Put your phone somewhere out of the room, out of reach, but where you’ll still be able to hear the alarm. The effort of taking those few paces to turn it off will help you shake off your slumber.
One professional with a consistently early call-time suggested capitalizing on the ability to name your phone alarms, choosing messages (modified, slightly, for Forbes purposes) like “HEY GET OUT OF BED RIGHT NOW,” or making a favorite song your alarm tone and switching it up seasonally for some early-morning variety.
Disabling the snooze function on your phone alarm forces you to actually reset the alarm, a further deterrent to unintentional drifting off, while a Post-It note on your alarm clock with a reminder about that conference call you need to be on first thing will jog your memory even before you’ve seen your day’s agenda.
More Info: www.forbes.com