11 Smart Things Pro Organizers Do Every Morning || Good Housekeeping
Professional organizers — though they swear they’re not perfect! — tend to be the type of people who just have it together (it’s kinda their job, after all). So we wondered what smart tricks they used for tackling one of the most harried parts of the day – the morning routine. Steal their habits, and get out the door on time (finally!):
1. They make their beds.
Research has shown that this simple task (which, admit it, you often skip), can help you kick off a more productive day. But real-life anecdotes really drive the importance of the chore home:
“Making my bed draws a line in my brain’s sand as if to say, “This is the start of my day and you’re not going back to bed,'” says Jeni Aron, the Clutter Cowgirl.
And Maeve Richmond, founder of the organizing coaching service Maeve’s Method, reminds us that shirking a chore now can have crummy consequences later: “For years I loved the freedom of not making my bed, but as I grew older, I began to understand that not doing it meant crawling into a crumpled bed at night,” she says. “There really is nothing quite like the feeling of pulling back bedding and climbing into a fresh bed.”
2. They skip the snooze button.
“You are not actually getting any more sleep,” says Heather Walker, the founder of Functional Spaces. (She’s right. Research shows you’ll start — but not complete — a new sleep cycle, which will just make you groggier.) “You are simply laying in guilt. Just get up and start the day — you’ll be happy to have those extra 9 minutes to actually drink your cup of coffee.”
3. They avoid making decisions.
Decision fatigue is a real thing: If you waste too much energy on choices that don’t really matter much (like what outfit to wear), you might find that you’re not making great decisions at the end of the day (err, Chinese takeout again?). Plus, making decisions is a time suck in the morning — so cut ’em out.
Barbara Reich, pro organizer and founder at Resourceful Consultants, suggests having the same breakfast every day or adopting a daily “uniform,” minimizing the time you have to pick out clothes. (Plus, if you really love a black slacks-white shirt combo, why notdon the look every day?). Or if you prefer a little variety, at least try choosing an outfit the night before.
“It’s easier get out of bed for my morning walk when my clothes are laid out on a chair next to my bed,” says Julie Stobbe of Mind Over Clutter. “This means I didn’t have to decide anything first thing in the morning and I didn’t waste time looking for clothes.”
4. They put “the big rocks first.”
Sharon Lowenheim, the Organizing Goddess, enlightened this with this organizing industry term — originally coined by Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
“What it means is that you should first do the things that MUST be done (like showering, dressing, packing up lunch) before the things that are optional (like looking at Facebook),” she says. “Once you do the things that must be done in order to leave the house, then you know how much time is left to do the optional things. Doing it the other way around leads to delays and panic, and often results in leaving late.”
Magalie René-Hayes, founder of Kid-Smart Spaces, faced what she calls the “purse problem” — the daily struggle to gather your things right as you’re supposed to be running out the door. “I’ve resolved this problem in an unorthodox way: I pack my purse first. Things like showers, getting dressed, and adjusting hairstyles can be rushed if you run short on time, but if you can’t find your phone or keys — there’s no speeding that up.”
5. They stick to their routine — even if something comes up.
“Changing the routine will always trip you up — especially when you’re still tired in the morning,” says Leticia Pfeiffer of Styled and Organized Living. “But if my routine does change due to a crisis, I take two minutes to mentally run through my regular morning check list. It’s a sure way to make sure you brushed your teeth.”
6. They notice their daily reminders — without even trying.
Here’s a low-tech life hack everyone should learn: If you need to remember something, stick it right smack where you’ll see it (because those dozen reminder apps on your phone just aren’t quite working, are they?).
“If I need to bring something with me, I put it right in front of the door,” says Lauren A. Williams of Casual Uncluttering. “I might tape a reminder to my mirror, my bedroom door, the refrigerator — or all three! I recently taped a note to the toilet tank because I had a head cold and really needed to remember something — I knew I’d stumble into the bathroom in a fog but still see the note.”
7. They set a timer in the shower.
“Its easy to become relaxed and let time slip away in the shower,” says Naeemah Ford Goldson, owner at Restore Order. “Set a timer for 10-15 minutes to keep your morning moving.”
8. They don’t even think about looking at their phones.
“I used to use my phone as my alarm clock, but when it woke me up, I’d be greeted with numbers in red little circles on my email app that I just couldn’t resist,” says Walker. “Or maybe I would check my calendar, or reminder list, or even — gasp! — social media. So there I’d be at 6:30 a.m., wasting about 20 minutes staring at a screen and getting worked up about everything that felt imminent. When really, I hadn’t even had a drink of water yet.”
9. But if they do send an email, they make sure it’s an important one.
Technology isn’t all bad, of course — used sparingly and strategically in the morning, it can make your day much better: “I go through my week schedule and send out either emails or texts to remind clients of their upcoming appointments with me,” says pro organizer Carrie Kauffman. “I find that if my message is the first one they read, they don’t cancel or I’m at least afforded enough notice to fill the slot with another waiting client.”
10. They eat something that gets them going.
“For years, I’ve been eating a handful of cashews each morning” says Richmond.”I once read about a man that lived well into his 90s, and his secret to success was to eat 5 pistachio nuts every day. I decided it was less the pistachio nuts, and more the discipline, so I switched the nut to one I preferred more. It’s great! The tiny energy burst really helps me kick off my day.”
11. They do at least one thing that makes them happy.
“Life’s too short to have grumpy mornings!” says Rashelle Isip, the Order Expert. “You could listen to a favorite song, read your favorite quotes, watch a funny video, or just tell yourself you’re ready to have an enjoyable day.”
12. They meditate.
Seriously. Many of the pros we spoke to this morning espoused mediating in the morning — and that’s actually not surprising. Studies have shown that meditation can help ease stress and anxiety, and make you more focused. But don’t think you need a formal system — even five minutes of quiet time could do the trick. “I just lie there — not looking at my phone or rushing to get out of bed,” says Amelia Meena pro organizer and founder of Appleshine. “I find that those first few moments when I wake up have such clarity and gratitude, before the stress of the day sets in. So I take some time to acknowledge and enjoy that before I get going.”
December 1, 2015
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