Even the most organised household can be fraught with tension in the mornings. Maybe you over-slept , or perhaps you decided to leave your ironing to the last minute. Or you forgot to pack your gym bag and you can’t find your keys. If there are children in the mix then there will be lunch boxes, readers and uniforms to worry about too – there are a plethora of slip-ups that could derail your morning and cause your stress levels to soar!
But the reality is that most of us are juggling different demands on our time – we need to be flexible and find solutions that really work for us.
Whoever you live with and whatever you have on your agenda for the day, there are some simple adjustments you can make to make your morning less stressful.
1) Get up earlier to create a buffer
Giving yourself a time buffer in the morning is a great way to take the pressure off. Even getting up 20 or 30 minutes earlier can make a huge difference to how your day begins.
Paul Puckridge is a time management guru and training manager at the Success Institute. He’s been helping people set goals for years and offers some adivce.
“If you leave no buffer time for yourself in the morning, you’re bound to get stressed when things don’t go your way,” says Paul.
Paul suggests that you use this time to mentally prepare yourself for the day. If you have young children it will also give you an opportunity to get a head start on showering and dressing yourself.
2) Do what you can today to make tomorrow easier
When you have had a long and busy day the last thing you feel like doing is running around organising things for the morning. But a few jobs ticked off your list the night before can make a huge difference in the morning.
“Prepare as much as you can,” says Aerlie Wildy, life coach and time management specialist. “This includes packing lunches, topping up drink bottles, getting sports bags ready and getting clothes out for everyone.”
The same goes for your gym kit, laptop bag and anything else that could be a potential time trap in the morning. Think about the things that often delay you at the last minute – for example, if you often find yourself running around looking for your keys start putting your keys in the same place every evening when you come home.
Aerlie suggests placing your keys, phone and glasses together – “so you can grab and go.”
3) Map out your week
Rather than mentally logging your appointments for the week it is a good idea to find a tool that you can use to methodically plan your week. There are lots of different tools available such as weekly planner apps or even a good old-fashioned diary.
“Every Sunday night, sit down for 10 minutes with your preferred tool and map out your week,” suggests Kate Christie, author of the book ‘Me Time – The Professional Woman’s Guide to finding 30 guilt-free hours a month’.
Kate recommends that you use your planning tool to record not only appointments, but details such as what time you need to leave the house and what you need to take with you.
“By setting aside time on a Sunday night you will have a good overview of the week ahead, and that will reduce your stress levels each morning,” she explains.
How much of your morning is spent doing tasks for other people? Kate notes that if you start getting everyone you live with (be it partner, kids, flat-mates) to do things for themselves you will save a great deal of time.
“What you may have lost sight of is that you are not a slave,” she says.
Kate says that you should think of your household as a team. “Make each member of your household accountable for their own stuff – they are capable of tidying away their own belongings, hanging up their own towels, making their own beds, putting away their own clothes and so on,” she explains.
If you have older children you can further eliminate stress from your morning routine by giving them responsibility for packing their school bag and laying out their uniform the night before.
Of course there will always be jobs that we can outsource and it is worth considering if you are prepared to pay someone to help ease your load. Kate says that although we might feel guilty about outsourcing it can sometimes make good sense. “Calculate what your own time is worth,” she suggests.
“If your hourly rate is $80 and a cleaner costs $20 an hour, and the cleaner takes 3 hours to clean your house, then that is less than 1 hour of your own time. You can leave your dirty house in the morning in the happy knowledge that when you get home it will be sparkling clean,” Kate explains.
6) Set some tech ground rules
While it is probably unrealistic to keep technology switched off in the morning, it is a good idea to set a few ground rules so that it doesn’t become a distraction.
Digital productivity and time management coach Megan Lemma, says that it’s a good idea to leave your tablet and smartphone charging somewhere other than your bedroom. That way you won’t be tempted to check for messages the moment you wake up.
Similarly, home organisation consultant Georgie Rees notes that every minute you have in the morning needs to be spent wisely.
“Set time limits for the TV, computer, tablets and smartphones and stick to them,” she says. “There will always be an interesting segment that you just have to watch, or an email that you want to read, but you don’t want it to take over.”
7) Go to bed earlier
While it can be tempting to sit up late watching the television with your partner or socialising with housemates, an early night is the best possible thing you can do to reduce your stress in the morning.
“Television and your computer screens only stimulate your brain, which makes it harder for you to get to sleep,” says Paul Puckridge.
A better plan, according to Puckridge is to pick up a book or have a long bath or shower. “Find a way to make the last half-hour before bed more relaxing,” he says. “You’ll find that within a few days you’ll end up sleeping better at waking up with more energy.”
8) Take a moment to breathe
A simple strategy to help create a calmer atmosphere in the morning is to simply press pause for a moment. “Take a deep breath and be present in the moment,” says Georgie. “Get focused for the brilliant day ahead.”
There are lots of simple strategies that can help you relax in the moment that won’t hold you up. Meditation apps, listening to a calming piece of classical music or learning a simple breathing technique are great ways to start injecting some calm into your morning.
We hope that following these simple steps will make your morning less stressful – because as Henry Ward Beecher says “the first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.”
OK, now your mornings are less stressful – so what next?
Open Colleges has a flexible, online course for everyone. Flexible courses can be started any day of the year.
There are no due dates – pause your study when you need to or move as quickly though the course material as you can. Don’t stress out! Learn when and where you want to.