15 Essential Life Hacks That Will Save You Time in the Morning

by Mikey Rox on 22 July 2013 12 comments

We can all agree that there's not enough time in a day. We're even more aware of that sad fact every morning as we rush around to get ready for work, inevitably pushing the threshold of tardiness by sitting down at our desks 30 seconds before the shift starts. Most of us, anyway. Some of you are just late on the regular, much to the chagrin of your very patient superiors. (See also: How to Wake Up Fast and Attack the Day)

There is a solution, however. Change your routine so that you can save more time in the morning. By instituting simple changes, you can relax a little in the a.m., get to work without qualifying for the Indy 500, and quite possibly catch a few more Zs. Here's how.

1. Prepare Lunch the Night Before

While I'm cleaning up after dinner, I take out my storage containers and separate tomorrow's leftover dinner from tomorrow's leftover lunch. They both go in the fridge, so I can pull one out for my midday meal at work.

2. Organize Your Outfits for the Entire Week on Sunday

Forget prepping your outfit the night before each workday. Over the course of five days, you'll spend more time coordinating and ironing than you would attacking it all in one fell swoop. Which is why you should consider planning an entire week's worth of outfits in one night.

Once you have everything picked out, hang the outfit with all its necessary pieces — shirt, pants, undies, socks, etc. — so you can reach into your closet and grab the entire contents at once. Plus, if you usually do laundry on Sunday, you'll cut a few more minutes from your chore schedule because you won't have to fold all the fresh clothes and put them away just to take them back out to wear them. You can pull pieces from the laundry basket to put your outfits together, while the rest you'll send to their respective drawers.

3. Use the Steam From the Shower Instead of an Iron

If you hate ironing, keep the board in the closet and put your clothes in the bathroom and allow the steam from the shower to release the wrinkles. If you're like me, though (OCD about ironing, that is; I have to do it), try a standup steamer as an alternative, which heats up quicker than a standard iron and allows you to cover a lot of cloth in a short amount of time.

4. Sleep in Your Workout Gear

Many people sleep in shorts or sweats and a T-shirt. If that's what you wear to the gym, there's no need to spend time getting dressed for it. Just get up and go in whatever you woke up in. This may even help you make it to the gym more often, since you can convince yourself that if you're dressed and ready to go, there's no excuse not to.

5. Place Your Pocket Essentials in Your Lunch Bag

Every morning — without fail — I forget something. ChapStick, keys, gym bag, lunch. I get halfway down the four flights of stairs before I realize it — sometimes even further (halfway to the subway) — and I either have to come running back to get it or do without it for the day. To avoid this problem, I started putting my gym bag on top of my computer bag, and my keys and ChapStick in my lunch bag.

6. Brush Your Teeth in the Shower

I've been brushing my teeth in the shower since I was in high school. Granted it doesn't save a lot of time doing it in the shower versus at the sin,k because you still have to engage in the act of brushing, presumably for the same amount of time, but I think I shave at least a few seconds off by being able to rinse in an already running shower, as opposed to swishing and rinsing at the sink.

7. Make Your Soap or Shampoo Pull Double Duty

Are you using one soap for your body and another for your face, plus shampoo and conditioner? You can combine two of those into one by using shampoo as the soap for your hair and your body, and vice versa. Not all soaps and shampoos are created equal, of course, so if you do try this trick, it's probably best to do it with a moisturizing soap or shampoo, so you don't inadvertently dry out your skin or your hair by using a product that isn't made for one or the other.

8. Get a Low-Maintenance Haircut

I keep my hair short for a reason — I don't want to fuss with it in the morning. If you're spending half-an-hour in the bathroom drying and styling your hair, consider a shorter, low-maintenance 'do. I know it's hard to part with your hair (although some of us don't have a choice), but once it's gone, you likely won't miss it, especially when you discover how much more time you have in the morning.

9. Cut Back on Grooming Products

Putting four or five products in your hair in the morning? Spending too much time thinking about what cologne to wear? Eliminate that problem by only having one of each product you need on hand. You'll save money by reducing your stash, but you'll also save time because your brain won't be racked on what you should use that day.

10. Invest in a Coffee Maker With a Timer

Set it and forget it. Ron Popeil made that phrase famous, but it doesn't just apply to his Showtime Rotisserie. With a coffee maker that features an auto-brew setting, you can set it before bed, so your coffee is hot and ready when you wake up. No need to fiddle with filters and grounds when you're so groggy. It's a better day already.

11. Switch to Iced Coffee

Even if you switch to an auto-brew coffee maker that has your coffee ready when you wake up, you still have to add milk and sugar (if that's what you like), and wait till it cools down to drink it at home or put it in a to-go cup, so you can enjoy it on the road. By switching to iced coffee, however, you can prepare it the night before and just take it from the fridge when you grab your lunch.

12. Pack a Healthy Breakfast in Advance

Cut out the cereal and milk (or worse, a pass through the drive-thru) from your morning routine by preparing a to-go breakfast. You can get creative here (like making breakfast burritos in advance), but an easy, healthy way to start the day and save time is to put yogurt in a container with fruit and attach a small baggie of granola to it with a rubber band. When you get to work, mix it all together and eat at your desk.

13. Leave Breakfast Items at Work

Stock your drawer at work with a few breakfast items — oatmeal packets are space efficient and healthy — that you can make at the office to save more time at home.

14. Gather Your Things for the Next Day Before Bed

Easy enough in theory, but how many of us run around looking for shoes and keys and computers in the morning? Avoid that by taking a few minutes before bed to think about everything you'll need for the day — not just for work, but to accommodate your entire morning, noon, and night schedule if you don't plan to come home to pick up additional items.

15. Turn Your Gadgets Off

Do you get sucked into responding to email while you're getting ready for work? I do. Every morning. To avoid this, simply turn off your devices. Yes, completely off. When they're off, you won't be distracted, and you can get ready faster. Besides, you have all day to stare at your screens. Don't you deserve a little "me" time in the morning?

How do you save time in the morning? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Nancy

Good ideas, except for No. 6! Brushing teeth in the shower won't save much time at all, but it will most surely use more water. Unless you can soap yourself with one hand and brush your teeth with the other, you'll send 2 gallons--or more--of extra water down the drain. That is unless you turn off the shower while you brush, and who wants to stand dripping cold when you could be dry and warm brushing at the sink with the water running only when you rinse the brush.

Guest's picture
Ed

Second that Nancy! :O)

Guest's picture
Phoebe

Great list - thank you for posting! I particularly like #4 - sleep in your workout gear!

Guest's picture

Love #12!

Checking my email is the biggest time waster for me in the morning. I always tell myself I'll only check and reply when I get to the office. Twi minutes later, I find myself replying to just one... and then just another. Before I know it, I've wasted 15 minutes.

Guest's picture

Bringing leftovers for lunch is my favorite! Quick, easy, and usually healthy.

Guest's picture

I get distracted by my iPhone, it's a big waste of my time in the AM.

Guest's picture

This is a great list. I'd do anything for a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning! :) Not so much anymore now that I work from home, but when I used to go into work every day, I'd prepare my lunch the night before.

Elizabeth
@ellieshares

Guest's picture

I found that an inexpensive Mr. Coffee and an appliance timer was more reliable than a fancy coffee maker with a built in timer.

Guest's picture

"4. Sleep in Your Workout Gear"

Oh yeah! Great idea. I think its incredibly important for people to exercise and I usually try to do it on my lunch break. What a great idea sleeping in workout clothes is though... it'll make exercising in the morning so much easier!

Guest's picture

If I'm running late and don't have any time to iron, I'll just throw my shirt or pants in the dryer for about 15 minutes, while I chow down breakfast. Works like a charm! Haven't tried using the steam from my shower to iron my shirt. Wonder how well that would really work. Hmm...

Guest's picture
Crystal Rose

I like this list except for number 8. I'm trying to grow my hair down to my waist. I pretty much just leave my hair up and go for fast ponytails and the like. Let me just say that with my face shape I WOULD miss the length. Short hair just isn't for some people. I would suggest finding some fast 5 minute makeup (if you wear it) & style tutorials on youtube if you're female. Cutting it off is just one option.

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GuestJamie @ Degree Source

I'm glad to see that I do at least half of these things and some I have thought about doing but not followed through with.
I don't think I could go anywhere in something I had slept in but I could do all the other tips with relative ease.
Thank you for giving my mind a good shake and make me think if I can be more efficient with getting ready for work.