6 Smart Ways to Start the Day

Always running late? Use these time-saving tricks to get out the door—minus the stress.

You don’t have to be a morning person to start your day stress-free and on schedule, but you do need a good routine. For starters, buy yourself precious a.m. minutes by making your evenings more productive and streamlining your morning obligations. Check out these simple tricks to help you and your family get out of bed more easily and get out the door faster.

1. Organize before bed. There’s never enough time in the morning, so use evenings wisely to plan for the next day. Create a checklist of the tasks you need to accomplish and tackle whatever chores you can before bed, like taking out the trash or making lunches for the kids. Pack up paperwork, gadgets, and keys and leave everyone’s bags and backpacks by the front door so they can be easily grabbed on the way out.

2. Wake up earlier. If you’re always running 15 minutes late, you may need to budget a little more time to get ready in the morning. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and make up the lost time by moving up your bedtime a bit to compensate. Also, avoid hitting that snooze button. Research shows it can leave you feeling groggy up to four hours later.

3. Drink some java. Go ahead—sip that morning cup of coffee to get going. Along with its potential disease-fighting benefits, coffee’s caffeine boost helps you feel more focused and awake on sluggish mornings. Set your coffeemaker the night before so you can wake up to the smell of a fresh pot brewing.

4. Prep breakfast before pillow time. Even on hectic mornings, don’t make the mistake of skipping the most important meal of the day. Research shows that eating breakfast improves concentration and helps manage weight. Try whipping up a batch of smoothies at night so they’re waiting in the refrigerator in the morning. You can even put them in to-go cups and for everyone to sip on their way to work or school.

5. Work out in the a.m. If you can manage to break a sweat by sunrise, you’ll boost your energy, improve your mood and concentration, and decrease stress, and you may sleep better too. One trick to make early exercise easier? Sleep in your gym clothes so you can pop out of bed and get to it.

6. Get dressed faster. You can’t afford to debate between outfits in the morning, so plan out your weekly wardrobe when you have a few extra minutes to spare on Sunday. If you have kids, take the time to lay their outfits out as well. Don’t forget to iron shirts and pick out shoes and accessories, so no one has to worry about details during the a.m. dash.

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