Want to feel in control of your days? Wishing you could find a way to bring order instead of chaos into your life?
You need to have a better morning. It’s a surefire solution for more productive and peaceful days. Why? Because when you start the day on the right foot, the rest of the day falls into better place — without much effort at all.
1. Begin the Night Before
You’re tired at night. I totally get that. I am, too. In fact, most nights, I just want to get some comfy pants on, put my feet up, and enjoy a good book or movie.
But I’ve found that if I take 15 minutes to prep for the next day, I do myself a huge favor. I use these 15 minutes to do three things:
- Quickly clean up the main living areas of our home (if you’re using the Motivated Moms cleaning schedule, this would be a great time to tackle today’s projects, if you haven’t already).
- Look over our plans for the next day and make a short to-do list or loose schedule for the next day (you can use my free printable Daily Docket for this).
- Get together anything you need to get out the door the next day (purse, library books to return, etc.).
When I do this, I enjoy crawling into bed or curling up with a book a whole lot more because I know I’ve got things in great order for the next morning. Plus, those 15 minutes of effort often completely change my morning.
You see, this guarantees that not only do I wake up to a cleaned up house, but I wake up feeling in control of my day — because I already have a plan of action in place. Now all I have to do is just follow the plan!
Tip: When making your to do list, challenge yourself to immediately cross three things off, without even doing them. This will force you to carefully evaluate everything on the list and help you weed out what isn’t that important.
2. Get Up a Little Earlier
I know, I know. Getting up early is not fun, glamorous, or exciting. And if you’re currently in a stage of life where you’re getting up multiple times in the night due to illness, pregnancy, or caring for a fussy infant or child, you can skip this point entirely.
But the rest of you, hear me out. Getting up just 15 minutes earlier can make a tremendous impact on the overall success of your day — and quite possibly your entire life! I dare you to just try it for three weeks and see if you prove me wrong.
Instead of pulling yourself out of bed at the last minute and then rushing around like a mad woman so you can get out the door and get wherever you need to go, try waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal in order to spend quiet time praying, reading the Bible or an encouraging book, or writing in a journal. This will give you a calm start to your day and will allow you time to be still, count your blessings, and begin your day with a great attitude.
Tip: Find a friend to join you in your early rising challenge. It’s always so much easier — and more fun! — when you’re not going it alone. You might text each other each morning when you get up to help you stay accountable.
3. Attack the Hardest Thing First
I’m a master procrastinator. I can come up with all sorts of seemingly good things to do instead of doing what I really should be doing. But when I spend most of the day procrastinating, I feel behind and unfulfilled.
At the beginning of this year, I challenged myself to stop putting off things as long as I possibly could and committed to begin my day tackling those dreaded tasks first. I thought it was going to be hard — and it was!
But I also was delighted to discover that those tasks I was loathing really weren’t that hard when I just set my mind to do them and then did them. They took a lot less time than I thought they would and I always felt so good to check the hard things off my list early in the day.
You know what else I discovered? I have more time than I thought I did!
When I stopped burning daylight and stalling in order to avoid the unpleasant tasks, it freed up a lot of extra time in my day. This, in turn, made me feel much less busy and able to go through my days more calmly and cheerfully because I wasn’t constantly feeling behind.
Tip: Have a dreaded task to tackle? Set a timer and challenge yourself to race against the clock. This will motivate you to work harder and faster — and will make it more like a game than a difficult task! You’ll probably find you get the project done in no time at all!
What things do YOU do to set yourself up for a great morning?
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#4 Start your day with a latte and healthy breakfast (mine is a green juice freshly made every morning).
Ellen Hensley says
Looking forward to learn to start my mornings off in a calmer way
Elizabeth Towns says
When I take the time to do these things, it orders my day so much! Another thing I do is take a sheet of paper and write down all the things that are on my mind, in a freestyle manner. It only takes about 5-7 minutes and I can determine what needs to go on a to-do list and what just needed to get out of my head space. When I don’t do that for a few weeks, I find myself on overload!
Elizabeth T, Early Rise
Thank you, this is just the reminder I needed of how simple it is to feel free again in the mornings! A little bit of discipline, sacrifice (or what appears to be) and the determination to push through brings immense freedom. Bless you……
Amanda J says
What a great post for me to read this morning. I woke up from a bad dream and hopped on facebook after a little prayer, to clear my mind. With all the intentions in the world of going right back to sleep after 15 minutes or so and then stumbled across this post!
I have partcipated in a morning challenge of yours before, and my life was much less chaotic when I was doing it, I got more done and had more time for the kids and husband.
This was great motivation for me to get back into early rising 🙂
One of the most important time management tools I taught my kids was getting EVERYTHING ready for the morning the night before…this even included themselves! To this day (they are 29/25/24 yr olds) they bathe/shower at night just before bed even when they are dead tired. They also pack their messenger bags (the boys) and purse (my daughter) to ensure no technology they need for their jobs gets left behind. A week ago my eldest son thanked me for this valuable life lesson on a day he hit an unexpected traffic jam enroute to work. In his own words, “if I had been scrambling around looking for things and left the house even 5mins later, I would have been late for work!
Pre-organization for the morning is KEY
I’ve been getting up early for a couple months now. We live in a tiny apartment (850 sq with 4 people) so getting up to get things done doesn’t work as it will almost always wake the kids up. But it allows me an hour to get showered, dressed and have my coffee while I plan my day. I think just the alone time really helps my overall mood. I feel like I get off on the right foot and it allows me to be more focused and patient the whole day with the kids.
Jamie Rohrbaugh says
I agree with you about tackling the hardest projects first. When I’m at work and have a tough file to work on, every time I put it off, it grows to monster size in my mind. Then I just dread it more. I feel such relief after I finally get it done. So I’m trying to work on those types of files sooner rather than later lately, and it really helps.
Crystal, thanks for this post! I have been able to get up early almost every day before my family gets up so I can spend time do a morning walk with my Lord! I love it, i feel refreshed and ready for the day, and by doing those 2 things I know I set my day for success 🙂 I also like picking up and cleaning up before bed 15 min. is great.
I think so many of us would be amazed when you set the timer for 15 min. and everyone in the family pitches in and cleans up, it goes by so much quicker then just 1 person! We are trying to this with our 3 sons now 9,4,2 🙂
I feel that being intentional about what we do is important and we end up having so much freedom with our family to have more fun because we have dealt with the hard things first! Thanks again Crystal! I love reading your blog!
I think that Daily Docket is a big piece that is missing for me! I wake up in the morning and try to sort through the jumble of stuff in my head, trying to figure out what needs to be done, so things inevitably get lost in the shuffle. Thank you!
This is a timely post for me. For many years, there was always pregnancy or nursing babies to keep me from productive mornings. For about a year and a half, I’ve been quite caught up on sleep. I no longer sleep in, but I don’t put effort into waking up early or being “a morning person”. I’ve used the excuse that it’s just not me. Thing is… I think if I could just master my morning… it would free me to JUST BE ME way more effectively.
I used to be a jump out of bed at the last minute then start my day just trying to keep up. I now have the habit of getting up an hour before everyone else and it makes such a big difference in my day.
I also *try* to make a list the night before of what I need to do the next day so I have a plan. I also have a basic cleaning routine and schedule for each day set up. Nothing rigid so we can go with what the day bring but just a basic plan so the most important things get done.
I am struggling SO much with setting a daily schedule/routine. I think some of it is that I need to get over feeling sorry for my kids. I think to myself, “They just got up. I’ll let them do their own thing for a little while.” Then it’s, “They’re going to start school in a little while. I’ll let them do their own thing before they’re stuck just doing schoolwork.” Then it’s, “They just finished school. They need a chance to do their own thing.” Then it’s, “It’s almost bedtime. The house is a mess. The kids haven’t done chores.”
I know it’s stupid and embarrassing. I just can’t figure out what time is best to actually do daily cleaning and have the kids do chores. Do you have kids old enough for chores? When do you schedule it in?
Money Saving Enthusiast says
I especially agree with number three. You might as well use all of your energy towards that while you have it in the morning. LOL : )
This is an awesome post! I have an 8 month old who goes to bed around 6pm, wakes once between 3am and 4am to eat, and then around 6am is up for the day. She also is a catnapper and only sleeps 3 times for about 30-45 minutes. I try to tackle one thing during one of those naps (I shower and pray during the others). The best thing I do to set myself up for success is go to bed by 9pm.
I also appreciate your example of weekly goal setting. I have done that the past two weeks and it has helped me tremendously to maintain my focus on my faith, my marriage, and my daughter, and to put the “to do” items after them.
I have two boys in high school and I always make their lunches the night before. I know so many moms who wait to pack lunches until the morning and then complain about how hectic the mornings are! If I am giving them something hot in a thermos, that is the only thing I wait to do the next day. Everything thing else is in the bags and ready to go.
I’ve also trained both of them to pack up their backpacks and athletic bags the night before and have them ready by the door.
My older son swims very early two days a week before school and once forgot to pack underwear because he was trying to remember everything at 5:30 in the morning! After that uncomfortable experience, he always packs his bag the night before.
I hear you on the back pack thing, my youngest son has been known to spend 10 precious minutes, or more! getting his backpack ready in the morning, scrambling all the while.
That’s why I try to make sure he’s got it all set the night before 🙂
Brittany C. says
I love this!! Definitely giving it a go!
I set the coffee to go off. Does the trick everyday. I looovvveeee my coffee. Sigh.
Jessica @ The Abundant Wife says
When I have something to do in the morning, I set everything out the night before. We eat oatmeal for breakfast most days, so I set out the oatmeal/sugar/cinnamon/salt/raisins/pot/spoon next to the stove. I set the table the night before, pack lunches if necessary, set out the clothes I’ll wear, and set out the things I’ll need in the bathroom.
My biggest struggle with getting up is I am not very disciplined about bedtime the night before. I always start out with good intentions, but eventually my bedtime gets later and later until I can no longer get up early again in the morning.
Having the coffeemaker all ready to go and programmed is vital for me. It makes a huge difference.
#1 and #3 are two things that I struggle with on a regular basis. As far as preparing the night before, I need to discipline myself to just DO IT! And as far as procrastinating goes, last year, I did a One Year of Anti-Procrastination theme on my blog, and it was so freeing. This year that obviously wasn’t the theme, and I have noticed the effects of not focusing on that. I’ve started back up focusing on doing the one thing I really don’t want to do, and again have started to find myself getting so much more done in the day. I guess this will probably be something I have to intentionally focus on for the rest of my life!
Thank you for adding the part about reasons for skipping #2. However, cannot wait till I can do the wake up early! 🙂
I have a rough time in the mornings. I usually get up last minute then wake up two grumpy preschoolers to get them ready for the babysitter so I can go to work. We are usually rushing out the door and make it to work at 9 o’clock on the dot!
Waking up just 15 minutes earlier would make such an impact on my daily life. I am going to take your challenge and force myself to wake up 15 minutes early everyday for the next three weeks!
I wholeheartedly agree! When (being the operative word) I do these things, they make a huge difference!
The Prudent Pantry says
I find it’s so important to have a routine so that I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing when I wake. There’s nothing worse than getting up and feeling like you’re spinning your wheels because you don’t know what you should be doing. This has been my basic morning routine for years and it always sets me up for a good day.
Thanks so much for sharing your routine!
Allison V. says
Yes, yes, and yes! I try to fix lunches and have the kids set out clothes the night before, I try to not hit the snooze button *too* many times! and on weekends all the housework comes first, then hopefully we can all relax together!
Nancy Bleeke says
Thanks for the ideas!
There is a great book that is short but powerful called Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. Just as you note here, the book in a clever way shows us that when you do the hardest thing in the morning, it frees up energy for everything else.
Love that book! You might enjoy reading the post I linked to under #3 on how it impacted me: