Starting your day stressed when you know it’s going to be a pressure cooker is no fun. Don’t go to work already in a bad mood because you left your house feeling rushed. Or you forgot something and had to come back for it. Or only realized you forgot something now that you are at the office.
The day is war. Face your day prepared for battle. That means having discipline, a regimen, gear in good shape and the most essential item in your kit, PopTarts®. No soldier feels complete when they realize they left a sad and lonely PopTart® in the toaster. That’s a bad look.
Here are ten steps you must take to ensure you leave for work stress-free and prepared.
-Plan your morning the evening before.
Make a list and agenda for the following day, on PostIt© Notes if you can. Go through your clothes, devices, cords, whatever belongs on the list and lay them out. As you complete each item, cross out the ones completed that night. Review the list when you wake up.
-Automate your morning coffee.
Coffeemakers with timers are there for a reason. If you use a Keurig or similar device, go to recyclable cups and prep them the night before. Leave them in the pod so you don’t grind, pour, stamp the cups when you get up. The same goes for tea. If it can be done while you are asleep, then make it work for you.
-Sort your clothes the night before.
Did you mother lay out your clothes the night before school? Good. Be smart, be prepared. Be like Mommy.
-Let the sun in.
Research shows that the brain returns to its primitive habits when we see natural light. The first thing you do in the morning is open the drapes. This will let sunlight in and convince the brain it needs to wake, it forces you out of bed, and just the physical activity will get the blood moving.
-Drink a glass of water.
This will hydrate you. It’s not always promoted but water has been shown just as effective at waking a person as caffeine in some cases.
Studies show music enhances motivation in exercise which is why we often use music to get us in the mood to work out or clean the house. Logically, upbeat music should be the get up and go soundtrack of your morning. I suggest Pantera, Billy Idol or a college marching band. Do not use Billie Eilish or Mazzy Star. That’s for quiet time after work. And another article.
-Get a shower timer.
If you know you only have five minutes of water to bathe, you will become resourceful very quickly. I suggest you do as I do-navy shower, shave, brush teeth. Get wet and turn the shower off, shampoo and soap. Turn water on again and shave. Water off, brush teeth. Dry off. Rinse your mouth at the sink. You should be able to get all of this done within a few minutes and reduce your water consumption.
-Go cold breakfast.
Set out the bowl and the cereal. In fact, skip it.There is no most important meal of the day. This was an advertising campaign which brainwashed the American public when we ought to know better. CICO. (Calories in, calories out. And a trim soldier is a ready soldier. I read that on the back of a cereal box once.)
-Set a hard out 10 minutes early.
If you set an alarm to wake up, set an alarm for when you absolutely must leave whether you are dressed or not. This is your air raid siren. Your squad needs you. You show up late, the battle is already over. However, if you need to catch that bus or train at 8:30AM, set the alarm for 7:50AM. Sure, it’s only 15 minutes to where you need to be, but that doesn’t matter-you’re a soldier and Sarge says be out of your quarters by oh seven fifty.
-Don’t forget your list.
Review your list and your agenda as you get ready for the day.
Bonus follow up: Preparation also coincides with work. Your day really starts when you start working. Put that to its most efficient use and you will save a lot of time.
-Don’t Spend Your Morning in the Inbox.
This should be entirely automated. You can get a digest of your important messages so you can address any emergencies or give yourself focus so you can handle the day without feeling pinched the moment you get to the office. Ideally, do this from your phone or laptop on the way to work.
Team sports, military organizations, even Dungeons and Dragons tables do this before a session to ensure everyone knows what’s ahead of them. Gather your team or your partner and go over the day’s agenda together. Get to the point, no small talk.
-Tackle the Biggest, Most Unpleasant Tasks First.
This applies to your yard work and your office. Concentrate on the biggest, most headachey responsibilities out of the gate. And the schedule will open up for the rest of your day. You won’t feel pulled in so many directions with each of them demanding highest priority.
Using the military was a poor theme but many of us have felt like we were fighting a battle and we hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Any obstacle or moment of hesitation is going to make getting ready in the morning an increasing chore. Streamlining your process before you wake up is going to make it smoother. The carryover effect into your work day is the added benefit: you won’t feel like you are fighting your way through your day. You will probably be more productive. And you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment along the way.
Which of the tips do you use? Let me know in the comments or tweet @expatjackb