For many professionals, getting out the door in the mornings fed, dressed, and on time can seem like a constant battle.
A recent Today Show/AOL survey found that women spend an average of 55 minutes each morning on their appearance — or a total of 6.4 hours each week — while men spend a total of 4.5 hours a week getting ready.
How can you get out the door faster? Here are a few easy adjustments that will significantly shorten your morning routine:
The Night Before
1. Write the next day’s to-do list.
By planning out the following day, you can go to sleep with less on your mind and wake up on the right track.
2. Pack your bag.
Don’t spend the next morning scrambling to make sure you’ve got everything for work.
3. Make lunch.
Preparing lunch the night before for yourself or your kids frees up your time. It’s also good for your wallet, since going out for lunch every day costs you about $US1,000 each year.
4. Check the next day’s forecast.
Knowing the weather will help you prepare your clothes, as well as plan your commute. For example, if there’s going to be a snow or rain storm the next morning, you should probably get out the door sooner than usual.
5. Pick your outfit.
You can cut down a significant amount of preparing for the day if you wake up knowing what you’re going to wear. (Don’t save any ironing for the morning, either.)
6. Get to bed at the same time every night.
By getting into a strict sleep schedule, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and focused. Studies have shown that “better sleep is better than more sleep.”
7. Prepare your coffeemaker.
If you need a dose of caffeine in the morning, you’re better off setting up the coffeemaker the night before and coordinating the brewing time with your alarm. A Keurig machine will save you even more time because it brews individual cups in under 30 seconds, and you can also set a time for it to turn on and warm up.
In The Morning
8. Lay off the “snooze” button.
Any time you hit snooze and drift off, you’re restarting your brain’s sleep cycle, which will make you feel even groggier when you finally roll out of bed. If you consistently wake up tired, you may need to go to bed earlier.
9. Do some quick stretches.
If you don’t have time for a full-blown exercise routine, it’s worth setting aside a moment for some easy stretches. You’ll get your heart pumping faster and get the excess fluid out of your joints, ridding you of some lethargy.
10. Let the sun in.
When light hits your eye in the morning, it taps into your brain’s circadian rhythm and helps you wake up. Research suggests that the sun’s orange light and the sky’s blue light have a greater impact than the light bulbs in your ceiling.
11. Drink a cold glass of water.
A glass of water first thing in the morning will give your metabolism a boost — and thus your energy level — without affecting your digestion. Some dietitians believe the energy used to process cold water enhances this effect.
12. Play some music.
Not only can music improve your mood and energy level, but it can also serve as a way to track how much time has passed, especially if you use a playlist you made for the morning.
13. Ignore your phone, computer, and TV.
If you’re trying to save time, don’t get caught up in emails, texts, or a TV show.
14. Set a strict time to leave the house.
Determine a time to leave your home that has proven to get you to work early. Set an alarm if you have to.
15. Cut your personal-care products down to the essentials.
Women, for example, can save time by using beauty products that multitask, like stick foundations that act as both concealer and foundation.
16. Have a fast, nutritious breakfast available.
If you want optimal energy, then you need to eat breakfast. Foods like Greek yogurt, granola, and fruit are quick and nutritious, and you can take them along for your commute if you’re running late.
17. Have set locations for things like your keys, bag, and coat.
There’s no need to spend 10 minutes hunting down your keys. Adding some order to your life will free you up each morning.
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