This Is How You Speed Up Your Morning Routine (and Get More Sleep)
How you handle your morning impacts the productivity of your entire day.
When you get a good night's rest, your mind is clearer, more focused, and more energetic than it would be if you didn't get enough sleep. It doesn't matter how many energy drinks or cups of coffee you guzzle down; nothing can replace sleep. (See also: 13 Things Successful People Do Each Morning)
The routine that you put in place whenever you wake up is critical when it comes to getting work done and moving through your to-do list. For those looking to take advantage of that clear mind and fresh morning air, the goal should be to streamline the morning routine and maximize productivity, all without sacrificing your Zs.
It sounds like a tall order, but we can get it done in a number of practical ways.
1. Figure Out When to Go to Bed Based on When You Have to Get Up
Our bodies are programmed to sleep for certain amounts of time, based on five to six sleep cycles. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long. A website called sleepyti.me actually lets you calculate what time you should go to sleep based on when you want to get up.
It'll give you a few different bedtime options. Getting up early doesn't necessarily mean going to bed earlier. What's more important is timing it so that you wake between cycles, rather than in the middle of one. (See also: Great Sleep-Tracking Apps)
2. Set Your Clothes Out
Somehow, getting dressed seems to take longer in the morning than it does in the evening.
Choose and set out your outfit the night before so that you don't need to spend time deliberating about what to wear or where to find it. Figuring that stuff out at night is much easier, and you'll save yourself anywhere from five to ten minutes in the morning.
Or you can do what I do: I pick out a whole week's worth of outfits from my button-down and pants to my undershirt and undies, iron them (not the undies), and put them together on one hanger per outfit in the closet in order of when I want to wear them. It makes my mornings less of a chore — and allows me more time to snooze. (See also: Change Your Bedtime Routine, Change Your Life)
3. Don't Check Facebook
You know you do it. The next thought you have after, "Crap, I've got to get up" is to check your Facebook account. Maybe it's not Facebook. Maybe it's email or your RSS feeds, Twitter, or something sports related. Whatever it is, it's taking time away from both starting your day and time that you could've been sleeping.
If you decide to get up, leave your phone be until you get to a point in the day where you've gotten some work under your belt and you need to take a break. (See also: Breaking Your Social Media Habit)
4. Get a Quick Breakfast
Don't skip breakfast in the morning if you can help it.
It's really the one meal that can work with quick solutions, so don't pass it up just to save time. Eating breakfast helps you focus, gets your metabolism going, and gives you energy to get you through to the lunch hour.
You might feel like you're saving time by skipping it, but it's counterproductive, even on a good day. Cooking a big breakfast isn't necessary, but use some of the quick ideas to nourish your body before you head out the door.
5. Eat Lunch at Work
If lunch cuts into your morning routine, free up that last half-hour by packing a lunch the night before and eating at your desk.
It's cheaper, it's better for your health than restaurant food, and it frees you from having to drive somewhere at 11:30 a.m. for a noon lunch.
6. Shower the Night Before
Some people need a shower in the morning to wake up, but if you prefer to just get up and head out the door, take your shower right before you go to bed, and you'll be fine to go without one in the morning.
7. Brew Your Own Coffee
It's a much quicker process to brew your own coffee than it is to go through the trouble of getting to Starbucks and waiting in line for somebody else to prepare your morning pick-me-up. It's also a lot cheaper. If you have a coffee maker that you can set and forget, your hot cup of joe will be ready for you to take on the go. (See also: 5 Great Coffeemakers)
Take Advantage of the Morning Hours
While you don't want to short change your sleep, the morning hours and the routine that fills them will set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to get around seven or eight hours of sleep, and then streamline your morning activities as much as possible.
The sooner you get to the point where you can start being productive, without having sacrificed much-needed sleep, the better off the rest of your day will be.
Do you have other ideas on how to speed up your morning routine and get more sleep? Let me know in the comments below.