27 February 2008

When you Open the Cereal box Upside Down: Getting Ready for Work on Time

It is inevitable that on the morning I oversleep and the radio is announcing traffic is backed up and it will be slow-going to work: that is the morning I open the cereal box upside down sending my cat scrambling and leaving me with a shower of raisins and flakes at my feet.

Mornings can be a busy time. Ideally I would like to have lots of time to make my lunch, do my hair, put on my make-up and get dressed, but most mornings I find myself racing just to get out the door. How can I be more organized in the morning and not be stressed before I even get to work?

Are those navy pants with your black jacket?

Try putting your clothes out the night before. This will avoid grabbing mix-matched clothing at the last minute before you rush out the door. I have also marked on the tags of my suits the words “Navy” or “Black” to help me distinguish between them in the dim morning light.

Be prepared

Making your lunch the night before can be a real timesaver in the morning. If you don't like sandwiches that have been in the refrigerator overnight, then get the rest of your lunch ready and make your sandwiches fresh in the morning. You can even pack the ingredients into a container and put your sandwich together when you are ready to eat it. If you like to have soup at lunchtime, bring a few cans to work and leave them there.

Have everything you need to take to work ready at the door so you can quickly grab it on your way out. This will save you time and you won't forget anything. If there is something you really need to remember and you think you will forget, put a sticky note on the door as a reminder. Also, have one spot for all your important items such as your keys and transit pass or tickets.


Try to get to bed at a decent hour. If your favourite shows are on too late in the evening, why not "tape" them. Too soon and it will be time to get up again.

Set your alarm to a reasonable time and make the decision to get out of bed. If you re-set your alarm, or snooze it, and fall back to sleep you will end up feeling groggier than if you had just gotten up on the first ring. If you give yourself enough time in the morning, it can be a relaxing time to sip your coffee and eat your toast while reading the morning paper. Reward yourself for those extra minutes. Make them something to look forward to. Especially if you have children, take this time for yourself and get ready before waking them up.

Bus Stop

Don't wait until the last minute to rush out to the bus stop or jump into your car, especially if you are going to work during rush hour. Leaving even five minutes earlier can make a big difference in traffic. If you take public transit and like to read, this can actually be an enjoyable time. Giving yourself enough time will make your commute into work less stressful. While other people are riding on the "stress mobile" you will be stress-free and enjoying your morning.

What if you have children?

It has been awhile since I have had to get anyone other than myself ready in the morning, but I do remember one thing, “children hate being rushed to do anything and the more you try to make them hurry the harder they will resist”. If you are relaxed and have things under control they are more likely to get ready rather than react to your stress.

The night before you might try helping your children pick out their clothes for the next day and laying them out in a special spot for the morning. This can help avoid the "I don't know what to wear" or "I don't want to wear that" attitude and can become a fun family time with mom or dad.

Encourage your children to help pack their lunches the night before. It is a little tougher to just throw a lunch together nowadays with allergies in the schools to watch for and wanting to ensure your child's lunch is environmentally friendly and nutritious, but if you get it ready the night before when you have more time, it will be easier on everyone.

Ensure all homework, notes and books have been put in their backpacks the night before or laid out where they will be remembered.

Make sure your kids put their coats and boots or shoes in the same location all the time. This way you will know where to go to retrieve them, avoiding the "big search" when you don't have the time.

If you can remember which end to open the cereal box and are prepared, your mornings can be a productive time for everyone.

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