Getting out the door in the morning is a challenge, even if you’re one of those people who jumps out of bed with a smile. Considering most of us tend to drag ourselves out of bed, it makes sense to find ways to make mornings a little bit easier. (Aside from coffee.)
When you think about it, most of your morning is spent either in the kitchen or bathroom: eating breakfast, packing lunches, shower, and grooming. When you get home today, take a look around you. Is it time to reorganize your space and schedule for a streamlined morning? Here is how to get started:
Streamline Your Schedule
1. Start by making a list of what you do in the morning. It will make it easier to really think about what activities take up your time.
2. Write down how much time you think it takes you to do each activity.
3. Then, spend one morning timing yourself for each one.
Sound silly? Think of it as a fun experiment about yourself. How much time does it really take make breakfast? How much time do you spend blow drying your hair? You might surprise yourself to realize your alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. but you don’t get out of bed until 6:45.
Armed with this knowledge, you can:
- Change your routine to lessen the time it takes in the morning. If you are always running late, maybe you need to set your alarm for 6:15 instead. Maybe you need to save some of the morning chores until after work.
- Make cuts when you are running late. You will then know how much time each item takes and can therefore decide what you will cut out of your morning routine to leave on time. For example, if I have time, I will wash the breakfast dishes. On rushed mornings, they remain in the sink until afternoon.
In this video, Janice offers some other great tips on simplifying your morning routine.
Streamline Your Spaces
1. Gather supplies.
What supplies do you need to complete each activity? One easy way to improve the morning is to gather those each night in advance.
- For example, you may go jogging each morning. Have your pile of jogging clothes, earbuds, etc. ready to go on top of the dresser.
- Maybe taking a shower is your first activity. You probably keep shampoo, soap, etc. in the shower already. But where are your bath towels? Are they easily found and easily hung to dry?
- After timing yourself, you find that packing your lunch takes 15 minutes each morning. If it bothers you, consider doing that task the night before. Or, spend some time on Sunday preparing things in small dishes/sandwich bags for faster lunch making later.
- Do you have the same thing for breakfast each day? Where are those supplies stored in your kitchen? Can you put them on the counter? Can you rearrange the pantry so it makes it easier to grab cereal each day?
- Makeup station: Women who wear makeup might consider taking a look at their “station.” Are you running to the other bathroom for cotton balls? Streamline this activity by having everything you need right by the mirror. If your bathroom is short on cupboard or counter space, add a small shelf on the wall next to the sink, employ cool containers or use baskets on top of the toilet to hold supplies.
- Related to that, what is on your bathroom counter? Of course you want easy access to things, but too much clutter can get in your way as you get ready each morning. Keep only what you need at hand. Employ drawers and shelves for other items.
2. Consider each step.
- When you discard your workout clothes, where is the laundry basket? Is it located in a useful place, or are you constantly throwing clothes on the floor and picking them up later?
- Shower before eating to give your hair time to air dry. That will make blow drying quicker later on. (Plus, hair experts say it’s best not to blow dry soaking wet hair.)
- It often takes a long time to figure out what to wear each morning. Of course you can save some time by choosing something the night before. But the way your closet is organized may also be impeding your progress. Would rearranging it so work clothes are in one section help?
- Maybe it’s time to move your dresser so it’s easier to access it.
- Do you complete your entire bathroom routine before taking care of kitchen things, or are they mixed? For some, it might be helpful to be dressed and ready before eating breakfast and packing a lunch/making coffee. For others, it’s best to eat breakfast before dressing for the day, saving clothes from accidents. But that may mean extra trips up and down the stairs.
3. Use your tools. Or change your tools.
- Maybe your shower has those insets in the wall, but you dislike using it. Consider various types of shower caddies to hang those items from the shower head or put them on a shelf.
- Make good use of the coffee pot timer so that your coffee brews automatically. (With some prep the evening before of course.)
- Check out this post on a hair dryer holder. What tools may help you keep what you need at hand?
- Labels on some of your beauty products may help you remember which days to use them.
4. Teamwork. Families trying to get out the door know the value of teamwork.
- Maybe one parent gets the kids’ breakfast started while the other packs lunches. (Once the kids are old enough, they can pack their own!)
- One partner might start water boiling for coffee, tea, or hot cereal while the other gathers items both partners need before departing.
- One parent might get the baby ready (dressed, diapering) and then the other feed her. That way neither has to spend 45 minutes on baby duty while we’re trying to get ready for work.
Whether at home or work, the office is one of the most important spaces. In short, it’s where you get things done. But organizing that space (and keeping it organized) is a challenge for many, who find themselves surrounded by desk tornadoes, sticky notes and too many to-do lists.
Organizing your office day begins with an organized space, one that feels ready for work. Here are some things to consider about your home or work office:
- Your desk should be large enough to accommodate you comfortably. While some people prefer a large desk surface so they can spread out, this may not be an option for you. If it is, wonderful. If not, keep in mind that it’s best to have at least a few feet of flat surface from which to work — separate from your computer.
- At home, it’s OK to improvise. While it’s tempting to sit on the couch with a laptop to pay the bills, it is better to work from some hard surface. You may not have the space for a separate home office, so it’s fine to use the dining room table or a mini office created inside your hall closet. Just be sure you assign a space where you handle bills, mail or any other life business.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your boss for a new office chair if yours does not feel comfortable. Ergonomics are very important not just for productivity but for your eye, wrist and back health.
- At home, your space may not accommodate a large desk chair, but you can borrow a dining room chair if your life’s business does not take a long time. Employ cushions and pillows if needed to help you sit up straight.
- Keep office supplies handy. At home, this might mean a rolling cart that you pull into the dining room if you don’t have a desk.
- Experiment with different trays. Many offices are cutting back on paper use, but if you have some papers, look at an office supply store for different ways to store them. While flat, stackable trays are popular, visual people may find it easier to use trays that hold folders/files up for them to see the labels.
- Be sure your filing cabinet has at least two drawers that pull out all the way so you don’t have to dig in the back for items.
- If you can, use a label maker so that your file names are clear and easy to read.
- Another neat filing trick: refold manila folders so that the tab is in front. That way, when you pull the tab toward you, the folder naturally opens.
- Consider your lighting. Many offices supply fluorescent lighting overhead and there may not be a way to change it. Plug in a desk lamp for some added light to reduce eye strain and create a warmer atmosphere.
- For added atmosphere, consider adding art, a rug, a plant or other items that inspire your comfort and productivity. Bear in mind that too many items on your desk or in your space may feel cluttered and overwhelming.
- Start fresh. Walking into an organized office is more likely to prompt feelings of readiness. Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to put things away, straighten your files, dust your phone and more. Although it sounds tedious to some, it can be a low-brain-wave task at the end of the day that leaves you with a feeling of closure before you depart.
- Too many sticky notes? Take a moment to re-read some of them. (Hint: if they are dusty, it’s time to toss.) Can that information be stored elsewhere? For example, login information can be gathered into a document or address book. Reminders can be removed and put on your calendar. Contact information can be put into your paper or electronic address book.
- Need a break from work? Take two to five minutes to straighten the top of your desk, putting away the items you’re no longer using.
- Hate filing? Keep a “to file” pile on your desk. After each task you complete, file two items from that pile. Small doses can make it seem less onerous.
Going to the doctor’s office for a routine checkup is usually fairly boring. But it’s a far better option than making an emergency trip to the hospital.
Keeping up with regular visits to the physician, eye doctor, and your specialists can be irritating. But doing so will save you a lot of:
- Money – Preventative care visits are often free or require only a small co-pay. Visits to the emergency room and hospital stays will no doubt cost much more.
- Time – Your doctor’s visit may mean a long wait, but it’s better to get it over with than to sit in a hospital for multiple days!
- Pain – Preventing illness is, of course, going to be much easier than dealing with it later.
Of course, organizing all those visits and your medical information requires a bit of thought. Here are some strategies for taking care of it all: (more…)
Are you a good consumer? Do you buy even when an item isn’t truly necessary? Maybe it’s on sale. Maybe it’s pretty. Whatever the reason, it isn’t crucial to your life.
“But I might use it.”
“But I really like it.”
But, do you have space for it? How will it enhance your life?
We recently talked about tricks stores use to get you to buy. Here are four more methods stores use to lure consumers.
You can’t miss the fact that the holiday season is upon us. This time of year is filled with shopping, parties, decorating, stress for some and peace for others. Lurking in the back of your mind are thoughts related to stuff. You interact with stuff, whether work or personal objects, each day. During the holidays you have additional stuff to track. For example, you have stuff for decorating, stuff to buy for others, stuff for baking special recipes and stuff you will receive from others. Whew! That is lots of extra stuff! (more…)
We are really good consumers. We buy when we need a product. We purchase when we want something. We buy when things are on sale. And when an item is free, we are in heaven!
Here’s the thing, stores know how to get us to buy. Unless we know what they do to get us to make purchases and counteract it, we end up with more than we need. How do I know? I’ve seen someone with:
- more than 100 pairs of shoes
- enough shampoo to last for 5 years
- 15 pairs of tweezers
- more than 100 T-shirts
- enough eyeshadow to last for 5-7 years (eyeshadow expires within 3 years)
- and I could go on, but you get the picture
You will leave a legacy. Everyone does. “She volunteered for so many worthy causes.” “He was a great guy and will be missed.” “People will enjoy seeing her fine art collection at the museum.” Of all the legacies you can leave, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear, “I’m really ticked because she left a lot of stuff for me to sort through” or “I can’t believe he kept all this stuff, now I have to get rid of it!”
So how can you avoid leaving clutter as your lasting legacy?
1. Leave a functional environment. Whether you leave this earth from a house, apartment or efficiency, make sure that you can walk around the space and access everything easily. You see, if your space and stuff are accessible, then you’ve set real boundaries, i.e., only kept the number of books that fit into your bookshelf. You’ve also developed meaningful habits, i.e., for every acquisition you’ve made a corresponding deletion. (Delete means leaving the space via donation, selling, recycling or tossing.) (more…)
“This just called my name.”
“I can’t walk/drive past that store without buying something.”
“If one is good, five are better.”
Seemingly innocent comments, but they might reveal something a little bit deeper depending on the person.
We see bumper stickers with words such as, “The person with the most toys wins!”, making light of the shopping habit, but there are people who feel a constant urge to purchase. It may be one category of stuff, but it could be lots of different items.
So quickly and without thinking, answer each of these questions:
- Do you use shopping as a quick fix for the blues?
- Do you spend more than you can afford?
- Are some of your purchases unused or hidden?
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed about this behavior?
- Would your life be richer if you were shopping less?
Where do you get your information? You may deliberately watch news on TV and read certain websites. On the other hand, you might read the newspaper or specific magazines to get your news. Of course, while there is some information you definitely want, there is other information that you just get. You are purposeful in reading about certain topics, but at the same time, you glance at another article that catches your attention and soon you have more data.
And then it sneaks up on you…information-overwhelm! Pretty soon you have more information that you could ever need or want-and certainly more than you could read in a lifetime! (more…)
Time management is a challenge, whether you’re a CEO, a working parent or a college student. (Or all three.)
In the Minding Your Matters Flexible Structure Method, we often talk about the flow of objects in and out of our space. While it’s easy to see and somewhat easy to understand how this works with our stuff, it’s much more difficult to visualize flow with our tasks. That’s because we cannot physically “see” time or tasks. But task flow is an important part of organizing your days, weeks and months. And if you’re overwhelmed by too much to do, it’s time to examine what’s flowing in — and not flowing out. (more…)