6 ways to shave time off your morning routine
Tired of getting caught up in a frantic morning rush? Try these six tips to help shave time off your morning routineBy Helen Racanelli
“Being time-challenged is the norm today,” says Ellen Smith, life coach and founder of En Course. “Mornings are particularly tough,” she adds. We’ve got to get dressed, attempt to eat well and zip out the door to wherever our day is taking us, often in a tempest of lost keys, misplaced paperwork and an outfit we’re not pleased with.
“It's not that there isn't enough time, it's that we are jamming too much into it,” says Smith. That said, you can streamline your morning routine to be quicker and healthier with these six tips.
1. Set your coffee maker and start breakfast the night before
“I like to multi-task. I have a timer on my coffee machine, and while that is brewing I shower,” says Chris Binet, publicist for BCommunications in Toronto. In addition to setting up your coffee maker the night before, Montreal-based dietitian Caryn J. Roll says you can take preparation a step further. “At night, take out your old slow cooker,” she says. “Throw in one cup of steel-cut oats, four cups of water, craisins, raisins, plain almonds, walnuts, and dried fruit and set it to slow-cook on low. There’s nothing like waking up to a healthy breakfast ready to eat.”
2. Lay it all out
Looking for clothes in the morning slows you down. “Be honest—how many times have you been frantically trying to find that belt?” says Smith. “If you can't get it together to have your clothes ready for the next day at least know what you’re going to wear,” she says. Binet has a routine down pat. “I press my clothes the night before so they are ready to go,” he says. Along with clothes, make sure to keep your handbag or laptop case and the kids’ backpacks at the door, ready to go from the night before, Smith adds. Likewise, make sure gym bags and lunches are also ready to roll.
3. Think twice about using the computer
Stay away from the computer at home in the morning, says Smith. “It's a huge time-sucker, as are BlackBerrys and texting,” she says. “Once you start, it's really hard to break away. Personal email can wait and work email will be there when you get there, on time.” Though Binet is guilty of eating breakfast while checking email on his iPhone, he puts the device to time-saving use by catching up on news during his subway commute.
4. Try easy no-cook breakfasts
If you don’t even have time to make toast—which happens to the best of us at least once in a while—try some fast, no-heat-required options for breakfast. In a pinch, there’s no reason a sandwich and a piece of fruit won’t do. Roll confesses to powering up with a peanut butter or almond butter sandwich on whole wheat bread, with a banana on the side, for those days she’s hurrying out the door. Or pour a bowl of high-fibre cold cereal, add thick Greek-style yogurt and some fresh or frozen berries for a healthy breakfast, she says.
5. Turn routines into rituals
“Get your routine down and make it a ritual,” Smith says. “Mornings set the pace for the day," she adds. “That can mean getting up 30 minutes earlier,” she says, “and making that Me time. Even if you don’t have kids it’s still a good habit to get into.” Make a ritual of returning things to a particular spot, whether it's your keys or something else you’re always scrambling for. Again, make sure all items are there the night before.
For those of us bogged down by not only our own morning chores but also those of our spouse and children, learn how to divide and conquer, Smith says. “Hubby can pour the coffee and get the kids started. Unless the kids are very small, they are capable of dressing themselves and creating good routines of their own,” she says. Find ways to share tasks, like school runs. “Dropping kids off or picking them up should be a shared chore,” she says. “If you’re a single parent, find out if there is a friend or neighbour that can carpool or walk the kids to school a couple of days a week,” she suggests.
Web exclusive: July 2010