Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Efficiency Hack - part 1, morning routine

I try to optimize much of my life, and love hearing from you about ways you save time & money. At the end of each year, I try to identify a few areas that I'd like to change or modify, and focus on those areas for improvement in the year ahead. I've broken up my tips into a few groups, as apparently, I have a lot to say on this topic. ;-)

I find that a well oiled morning routine makes my life so much earlier. M & I do a bit of schedule shifting, to reduce our need for childcare, as well as spend more time with the kids. I go to work early, and he manages breakfast (and most of the lunches) for the kids & gets them to school. As a result, I can leave work earlier, and handle the late afternoon at home, & dinner prep while he works later. Here are some of the tips or just general plans that make our morning routine easier. You are probably doing most or all of these already, so take what is useful & share your own best tips!

  1. I get up at the same time each day. I go to bed at the same time every night during the work week. And, it's early. :-) I need about 9 hours/sleep a day to stay healthy with lupus, so this is a big priority. Waking up rested is a huge gift you can give yourself. 
  2. We have an espresso machine at home. No need for a coffee shop (I do get free coffee at work about 1x/month). We've had the same espresso machine for about 10 years, and have had it repaired once. It's lovely to have a cup (or, let's be honest -  2) in the morning. 
  3. As soon as I have my coffee, I make my to do list for the day. Once I have all of that written down, it frees my brain up from having to track all of those random items. It also ensures I'm as productive as possible. My first hour at work is typically my most productive, so it's important to have all of my tasks written down to keep me focused.
  4. We make one breakfast for the kids. It involves an egg, toast, & lots of fruit. Although we sometimes vary it on weekends, keeping our routine the same during weekdays helps M quickly get breakfast on the table, and reduces the time it takes in the grocery store, as I always know what we need to buy.
  5. I only wash my hair 2x/week. And, only once during the work week. It makes the getting out of the house routine extremely fast. I could shower at night to save even more time, but find that the morning shower wakes me up.
  6. I invested in a high powered blow dryer a few years ago. It can get my just past shoulder length hair dry in about five minutes. The difference between this & a regular blow dryer is pretty remarkable. I use regular blow dryers in hotels when traveling, as well as when visiting my family, etc. I'd say I save about 10 minutes of active blow drying time. 
  7. I have a streamlined makeup routine. As soon as I get out of the shower, I lay out my makeup. I wear the following every day: sunblock (particularly important as the medicine I take makes me even more sensitive to the sun, and I'm already quite fair), mascara, eyeliner, chap stick, deodorant. I also leave out my toothpaste & mouthwash, and put each item away as I use it. This ensures I remember to complete all of the routine, even when I'm tired. It's amazing what you can forget before you are fully awake. I'm experimenting with cutting out the eyeliner. I don't want to look overly "made up". I also have very, very small eyes, and as I age, my lids have been dropping, making my eyes look even smaller. So, we'll see if I change this up.
  8. I wear a straight forward "uniform" to work. In the summer, dresses, sweaters, and a statement necklace. In the winter, it's jeans with a cardigan & again, a statement necklace. I wear flats or boots. I experimented with packing about 2/3s of my wardrobe a few weeks ago, and have been making do with a capsule like wardrobe. I'm liking it so far. I didn't get the choices exactly right this go round, but I can imagine pairing my wardrobe back much further when I do unpack in March. It takes me about one minute to decide what to wear to work, no fuss when your wardrobe is straightforward.
  9. We tag team lunch prep. While M is making breakfast for the kids, I get out their lunch snacks, round up the lunch bags, and then he makes sandwiches. I add the fruit & veggies, and they are good to go. Again, the lunches vary little. This helps us know what to buy each week. The kids do experience some lunch "fatigue", so they are allowed to buy hot lunch once a month, and I occasionally put leftovers in their thermos. 
  10. I also make the bed & empty the dishwasher between other tasks, so we don't leave the house with a sink full of dishes, or come home to an unmade bed. Yuck. If I've done laundry the night before, I round it up from the drying rack, and have the kids put away their stuff before school. 
  11. The kids also have their own chores. They make their beds, put away their laundry, bring their dirty clothes to the washing machine, and brush their teeth. 
  12. When possible, the kids wear their soccer practice uniforms to school. This makes getting ready much easier in the afternoon. They can add shinguards & cleats & be ready to go. 
  13. I keep my stuff in the same place, every day. My laptop is charging next to my phone, along with my "to do list" notebook. I have my work ID in my laptop bag, and scoop up the laptop, phone, & to do list on my way through the kitchen to the car. No more searching for lost items as I run around the house. 

I'm typically in the office by 7:30, depending on my meeting schedule, so optimizing my early morning routine is priceless. I'd LOVE to find a way to get in a workout in the morning, but short of getting less sleep, I've come up empty on options. What about you? Any tips or tricks to share? What's your best morning routine hack you can share?


  1. I am not a morning person so having my coffee ready the night before is my number one hack. All I have to do is hit the power and push brew which helps my foggy brain. In fact anything I can do the night before helps my morning. I also have found if I make the bed before I leave the bedroom in the morning it sets the productivity tone of the day.

    1. Love it! You've got to work with what you've got, and work around what isn't working. I'm a wreck in the evening, so I do as much as possible before the fatigue sets in (typically around 5 on weekends, at 6 on week days).

  2. I need my sleep too, but it remains elusive most nights, I think my fibro keeps me up. Great idea on the high powered blow dryer.

    1. If I go more than 3-4 nights with poor sleep, I take one Tylenol PM. I'm sure it's not the healthiest ever, but it sort of "resets" my sleep clock & gets me back on track. Unfortunately, I take 2 a night when I'm traveling (internationally) in order to get any sleep at all.

    2. For sleep, I use Megafood Dream Release supplement, they say farm to table in making their product. It has magnesium, ashwagandha, valerian root and vervain. I take one half, don't wake up groggy as with melatonin. Of course try at home before trying while international so you know your sleep pattern on it. I zonk out for at least 4-5 hours, wake for a while (the ole 3 AM adrenal heal time), then back to sleep 4 AM to whenever, usually 8 AM (work from home ;). Feel restored in the AM.

  3. Do you have a recommendation on a blow dryer? I use a regular one and am thinking of making the jump.

    I make lunches in the evening for the kids to speed up the morning. They set out lunch boxes in the same spot each night and we just have to put lunches in with ice packs.

    1. I have this one - Big Power by Hai Elite. I haven't tried the models down from this, but it looks like they are quite a bit cheaper. I can say that this one works extremely well. I think my blow dryer is about 4 years old, and is still working well.

      The lunch idea is great! We have an efficient morning routine, but if things change with our schedules, we will likely have the kids prep & make everything in the evening & stick it in the fridge.

  4. Wow! You have quite the morning routine. Here's mine:

    Alarm goes off at 6:25 and I press snooze one or two times. I play on my phone until about 6:40 or sleep. I wake up and get a Diet Dew from the pantry and maybe a breakfast bar or banana. I start getting getting ready by putting in contacts and turning my hair straightener on. I shower in the evenings so I don't have to dry my hair because of the time and the heat damage to my hair. At 6:45, I wake up my daughter and help her get dressed. By 6:50, I lay out breakfast, either cereal or oatmeal for the kids. If oatmeal, I make it by microwaving it. If cereal, I pour the cereal and leave the milk on the side in measuring cups so they can add it (everybody hates soggy cereal). I make sure my daughter is eating. I run back to my bathroom. I do my makeup of lotion, foundation, blush, powder, eyeliner and mascara. I also brush my teeth and straighten my hair. I then go back to help my daughter brush her hair and make sure she brushes her teeth. I fix her hair and make sure she gets her winter clothes on with her backpack. She eats a hot lunch at school. She catches the bus at 7:15. I run back to my closet to get dressed which takes about two minutes tops. Dress pants, sweater, and jewelry, funky earrings and necklace. I go to the bathroom and get my son's coat on. I grab my lunch, usually leftovers, and fruit for a snack. We are out the door before 7:30. I usually grab workout clothes for my backpack so I can work out during lunch. I put my lipstick on in the car and go to daycare.

    My husband takes care of getting our son ready with dress and teeth brushed.

    This works well for us but it's a bit exhausting to read.