A 4-Step Morning Routine

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How you start the morning can have a significant impact on how the rest of your day flows. Yet so many of us start the day frazzled as we race against the clock in a frenzy to get ready. 

As a result, there's a growing trend around creating the perfect morning routine — but it doesn't take hiring a productivity expert or following the quirky schedules of historical greats to craft a game plan that works for you. 

I've gotten to the point where I can be up and out the door in 15 minutes flat (unless I choose to linger at home). Though there's no one-size-fits-all approach these tips may offer ideas that help you organize yourself more efficiently in the AM. 


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1. PREP THE NIGHT BEFORE 

Make a note of the activities that seem to take up a disproportionate amount of your time. Then consider shifting them to the night before. 

For me, it's outlining the next day's schedule before I go to bed (i.e. determining what I want to accomplish and why) because I feel anxious when I don't wake up with a clear sense of purpose. 

For you, it may be getting your to-do list in order or pulling together your outfit. Whatever the bottleneck, try to alleviate the disruption to your morning flow by moving it to the evening when you have more time. 

2. NIX THE ALARM IF POSSIBLE 

It's a rare occasion when I see the need to use an alarm. I significantly cut down on my dependence of it because I felt it wasn't a natural — or pleasant — way to wake up. 

An alarm literally shocks you awake (most likely at the most inappropriate point in your sleep cycle). You feel a groggy sense of dread and waste extra time hitting snooze trying to fight the inevitable. It's a terrible way to start the day. 

I'm a naturally early riser so wake up a little after dawn (to sunlight and birds chirping instead of a glaring bell). Depending on the time of year this can be extremely early but I try to adjust the time I go to bed accordingly so I get enough rest.

If you struggle waking up naturally or have time commitments that you can't risk missing then getting rid of the alarm may not be a viable option. However, there are great alternatives (such as iPhone sleep trackers) that attempt to wake you more gently and at the most optimal point. 

3. STREAMLINE YOUR WARDROBE 

Staring blankly at your closet for 30 minutes overwhelmed by the myriad of options? Then a daily uniform could be a great solution. 

I personally own few items of clothing and they are all in colors and silhouettes that work well together.  This makes it fairly easy for me to pull together an outfit quickly. 

If wearing the same or similar outfit everyday isn't appealing to you then at least indulge in a set of classic basics. You can pair them with more trendy fashion pieces and cut down on time spent crafting your look. 

4. INDULGE IN EDITED ESSENTIALS 

I'm always looking for ways to maximize the pleasure I derive from the day. What normally feels like a chore can easily be transformed into a pleasant experience just by being thoughtful. 

It's the same for getting ready. Think about the items you need to look and feel your best and invest in them. Instead of a drawer full of products that do nothing but collect dust, create an edited assortment of must-haves that you know you can rely on. 

Even as a minimalist, it's important to continually explore how select goods and objects can be tastefully incorporated into — and improve — your lifestyle. 

CONCLUSION 

Your morning is the most precious time of the day because it sets the tone for everything that follows. It doesn't matter if you are self-employed or work a 9-5, you can still find ways to optimize your routine so you walk out the door fully ready to embrace the day. 

I adjust my routine often (sometimes every month) so that it aligns with my goals and priorities.  You can read more of my ideas and methods in the Realistic Routine and Luxury Routine editorials. 

Essential Life is an ongoing series about using productivity and organizations tools to focus on the things and activities that matter most.