Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How I Set Myself up for Morning Success

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

photo credit: Gerhard Buettner

A long time ago (well, only a bit over a month ago-though that seems like a long time ago, what with everything that happened, and everywhere I've been) I wrote a post called Morning Glories (here), about my love of mornings, and what my perfect morning looks like.

But, though I am a lover of mornings, I am not a clear headed, chirper morning person. I am rather foggy and grunt-y-ish until I've been shown the coffee. Coffee is only the first component of about half my mornings,  and if my perfect morning is going to come off perfectly, there is some preparation to be done.

And, chances are, whether you are a morning lover-like me- or not, you probably get up sometime in the morning. Are you mornings smooth or harried? Perfect or a nightmare?

Here's what I do in order to not sabotage my perfect morning before it even starts...

1. Set out my outfit the night before. If I am swimming the next day, I have my bag packed, with my suit, towel, toiletries, wallet, phone and outfit for the next day-before I go to bed. This is key for several reasons.
-I am less likely to talk myself out of going, because everything is all set to go.
-I don't have to try to figure what I need, and what I am going to wear, when I can barely open my eyes. It is already done.
-By picking out my clothes the night before, I just stick with whatever I pick. I don't try on 10 different outfits, based on my mood. Whatever I picked is picked and worn.

(When I am setting out my clothes, I take in to account the events of the next day. Wednesdays I always scrub the bathrooms, so I pack a grungier shirt that won't get wrecked while cleaning.)

Btw, this is a good principle for anything you might be wanting for your morning: shoes, coffee mug, Bible, notebook, computer, whatever-set it out the night before.

2. Don't hit the snooze. Rarely, rarely does that extra 5 or 10 minutes make a difference. It is far better to jump out of bed on the first buzz. (or cricket chirp. That's what my alarm is.) Place your alarm clock somewhere that you have to get out of bed to turn it off, and then just stay out of bed. Make this a habit.

3. Plan backwards. If I have somewhere to be, i.e., church on Sunday mornings, I work through my time/schedule backwards, so that we will be on time. Like this:

We have to be at church at 9:15 to set up for communion, which means we need to be walking out the door at 9:00. In order to be out the door at 9:00, shoes and jackets need to be put on. Start that by 8:50. Which means that breakfast needs to be done by 8:50. Breakfast needs to start by 8:30 at the latest. Oatmeal takes 30 minutes to get ready, so it has to start by 7:50-to leave time for dishing up by 8:20. In order to eat by 8:30, everyone also needs to be dressed. Wake up the kids by 8:15 to get them done in time. (We can do it this late because 3 of my 4 can dress themselves, and they haven't discovered the joys of primping yet) To get my kids up by 8:15, I need to be in the shower by 7:45. And I like to drink my coffee first, so it needs to be ready to go by 7:20. It takes 15-20 minutes to get the coffee drinkable, so I need to kick Mr. Hippie out of bed by 7:00. And I sleep until he brings the coffee.

Does that make sense? I know I can wake up at 7:00 on any given Sunday morning, and have a leisurely cup of coffee, shower, dress and feed my kids, and still be to church before 9:15.

Anytime I have someplace to go, I think like this. And I even have done a pared down version for our school mornings. Any time I have something I need to get done by a specific time, I think like this. (I learned this practice as a camp cook, so all the components of dinner would be ready-at dinner time.)

4. Go to bed at a decent hour. Decent varies from person to person, but I know I need at least 6 hours of sleep to function, and I prefer 8. That means I am sleeping by 10:30 on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Again, doing the backward planning thing, I have to figure in reading, getting ready for bed, etc, to be ready by then.

5. Wake my kids up at the latest possible moment. I was totally raised with the mantra, "let sleeping babies lie." I rarely break that rule. I need the quiet, and they need the sleep. So long as we are not being late to any- and every- thing, this works best for me.

6. Make the bed. This can be done while groggy, and is usually one of the first things I do everyday. It gives me a simple task that is accomplished. Something that is easily made neat and orderly. It's a small thing, but it starts my organizationally motivated mind clipping in the right direction. Plus, I'm less likely to crawl back into my made bed.

photo credit: Gerhard Buettner

As a professed morning person, these are the habits I've worked into my life to make my perfect morning possible. So I can drink my coffee, and talk with Mr. Hippie, and exercise, and read my Bible, and get organized for the day.

What are your strategies for making your mornings smooth, successful and profitable?