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How to Hack Your Morning

How to Hack Your Morning

    I don’t know about you, but if I’ve got somewhere to be early in the morning (though my definition of early is probably different than yours), there’s usually a manic rush as I try and get everything done on time before I head out.

    That rush is easy to avoid, even if you get up not long before you need to leave. It just takes a bit of planning. Here’s how to fly through your morning routine like it didn’t even happen. This is designed to capitalize on your time in the evening or night when you aren’t rushed to optimize your morning routine. The order of items is important, by the way.

    Also, this is just a rough guideline with ideas on how one could set up a morning routine that’s fast and effective; there are undoubtedly thousands of hacks you could apply to make things faster, or just get more done within the same time frame.

    And finally, I will say that I’m not making this up as I go along; I’ve done this before within the time allotments set out below.

    Getting Out of Bed

    Stick an alarm clock by your bed and another across the room (or even in another room) that goes off a minute later. The second one forces you up even if you miss the first one, and it makes the first alarm even more effective if you don’t live alone – you’ll have to turn the second alarm off before it wakes anyone else up!

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    Walk directly to the bathroom.

    My time: ten seconds.

    Showering

    Grab a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, chuck it in your hair, and use a scrubber with body wash to clean yourself up while you brush your teeth with the other hand (you can store a toothbrush and paste on the ledge of the shower wall if it’s wide enough – and if you can reach up there!). From the time you’ve got the temperature right, you can be out in 90 seconds without sacrificing any cleanliness.

    My time: ninety seconds.

    Getting Dressed

    Jump out of the shower and dry off with the towel you put on the towel rack the night before. Your deodorant, cologne or perfume, and anything else you put on after your shower (moisturizer for the ladies, for instance) is lined up on the sink ready to be applied in rapid succession.

    Your clothes for the day are lined up on a rack (or whatever you have available in the bathroom) in the order that you put them on; items that require ironing were done the night before.

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    You don’t need to shave, because you did that before bed—there’s nothing wrong with a bit of overnight stubble. Fortunately we live in a time when stubble is even considered trendy; I imagine this routine would be much harder in a more “clean cut” era. I don’t pretend to know about shaving one’s legs, but I imagine (and this is a wild guess) that it’s fine to shave the night before. Feel free to correct me!

    Walk to the kitchen.

    My time: two minutes.

    Breakfast

    Leave breakfast until last, because if you eat breakfast first and then start losing time, there’s not many other corners left to cut. You shouldn’t skip this important meal but it’s more expendable than a shower if you’re going to be around other people.

    Some people will refuse to change their breakfast habits to make things happen faster, but in any case, it’s possible. If you eat cereal, put some in a bowl the night before and stick it in the fridge, requiring you to just add some milk and eat in the morning.

    If you have a shake for breakfast, there’s no noticeable difference in taste if you prepare it before bed and stick it in the fridge until morning—in fact, the time it has to cool down will probably improve the taste.

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    If you eat a fairly complex breakfast, say bacon and eggs on toast with hash browns, that takes time to cook, you can get all the refrigerated ingredients on a plate. In the morning, get the plate out of the fridge and you have everything you need to start cooking; no messing around with packaging or finding an ingredient you forgot about.

    I like miso soup for breakfast. Since it’s already prepared, there’s nothing easier to heat up in the microwave, and it can be eaten quickly.

    My time: two minutes.

    Getting Out the Door

    My laptop is ready in its bag, sitting by the door; in that bag is my wallet, and on a hook by the door are my keys. My shoes are also by the door, and I can slip them on as I grab my bag. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet learned to grab the bag, slip the shoes on and get the keys all at once!

    The only thing I have to grab before I leave that’s not by the door is my phone, as I charge it over night via USB in my desktop. No wasted time there, though, since I scan feeds and email for a minute or two as I eat breakfast and can take the phone with me as I go to put the bowl in the kitchen sink.

    Notice I said scan and not read; it’s really just to pass the time between mouthfuls!

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    My time: ten seconds.

    How long does it take me to get out the door on an early morning? Just under six minutes.

    In short: spending fifteen to twenty minutes preparing for the morning before bed can mean you spend only five minutes getting ready in the morning. No more morning rush! Of course, I like to take my time where possible and if I’m not going to be rushed, I take the longer, more relaxed route to morning preparation.

    But if I’m working late and I want to maximize my sleep without pushing back my day, this is the model I use to get my night’s work done and still get up early without feeling exhausted.

    More by this author

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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