7 Swaps for a More Productive Morning

Mornings are crazy in my house, as I’m sure they are for many of you. Every morning, I try to exercise and do some work before my family gets up. Then, I make breakfast for my four kids and me, maybe throw in some laundry and deal with any emergencies (''I can’t find my pants!'', ''I spilled milk all over my shirt!'') that inevitably come up. My husband leaves for work by 6 a.m., so it’s up to me to get everyone else up and out the door. Many days, it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Luckily, I have a few go-to techniques in my back pocket to save my sanity and help me be more productive in the morning. Here are some of my favorite tried-and-true techniques that might help you save time, simplify your day, and leave you feeling more efficient and less stressed all day long.

Instead of: digging through drawers in the morning
Try: packing your gym bag and choosing tomorrow’s clothes the night before
This is especially helpful if you help more than one person get dressed in the morning, or if you have a hard time deciding what to wearMy kids wear uniforms every day, but I still get out their stack of clean clothes the night before so they can grab them in the morning and start getting ready on their own. Each of these tasks saves a few minutes here and there, but it adds up and makes the start of the day less hectic. 

Instead of: sleeping in
Try: vetoing the snooze button
I find that hitting the snooze button throws off my entire morning. Even though it’s really hard sometimes, dragging myself out of bed on time allows me to get everything done that needs to happen. If I have trouble getting up, I’ll ask myself if it’s really worth a few more minutes of rest for the additional stress later. If I’m really tired, the answer might be ''yes''. But most of the time, it’s not worth it, and I’m better off getting up right away. 

Instead of: frantically throwing together meals for everyone at once
Try: prepping the night before
I ask my kids the night before what they want to eat for breakfast tomorrow so that I can either prep ahead of time, or get as much ready as possible before I have to get them up in the morning. Need to pack lunches for school or work?  Do it the night before. Thinking ahead saves time and stress the next morning. 
Instead of: jumping on your computer or phone first thing
Try: waiting to check your email, Facebook, etc. until after you’re ready for the day
I’ve been guilty of this, and it really does create a distraction that makes your morning less efficient. Instead of focusing on what I need to be doing right now, I’m responding to emails that could easily wait 30 minutes until I’m completely ready to head out the door. I’ve also found that thinking about the Facebook post I just read or the email from school distracts me from spending a few quality minutes with my family before we all head in different directions for the day.    
Instead of: trying to do everything yourself
Try: delegating morning responsibilities
Are there things your kids can do to help get breakfast on the table? Can someone else feed the dog or take him for a walk? If you live alone, are there tasks that can wait until later instead of having to do it all right now? You shouldn’t have to take care of everything, especially if there are a number of people at home to help share the workload. 
Instead of: trying to find time for a workout after work (and not always being successful)
Try: switching to morning workouts
 If you have trouble finding time to fit exercise into your busy schedule, or you’re sluggish in the morning and looking for an energy boost, morning workouts might be the solution.  You can get a quality workout in 30 minutes, which makes it very manageable to squeeze into your morning routine. This also sets the tone for the day, helping you continue down the path of healthy choices all day long. I like knowing that no matter what demands are put on my time for the rest of the day, I’ve taken a short amount of time already to do something good for myself.
Instead of: ''flying by the seat of your pants'' each morning
Try: developing a consistent routine
My friends and family like to kid me about the regular (sometimes ''rigid'') schedule I stick to, but it helps me get through the day and get things done. My kids know what happens every morning, in what order, and what they are responsible for doing. Without fail, it gets us to school and work on time every day.   
All of these things can cut down on morning stress, but they also free up a little more of your morning to squeeze in a workout, spend some quiet time reading or meditating, or whatever else you need to do to get your morning started the right way.  With a little bit of planning and preparation, you might actually have a few minutes to yourself to take a deep breath before the day begins.