Do You Hate to Rush? 11 Tips for Getting Ready Faster in the Morning.

One small but annoying daily challenge? Getting ready each morning.

I very much dislike rushing or feeling pressed for time, and fervently agree with Thoreau, who wrote in Walden, “I love a broad margin to my life.”

By figuring out easy, quick ways to make it faster to head out the door, we can give ourselves a bigger margin of time.

Need some ideas? Here are eleven simple morning-related habits that may make your life easier.

11 Simple Morning Habits to Make Your Life Easier

  1. Put your alarm clock across the room, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. No more snooze button!
  2. The night before, set an alarm to tell you that it’s time to go to bed. It’s a lot easier to get going in the morning if you’ve had enough sleep the night before. Also…
  3. Set an alarm to remind you when you’ve spent enough time in the shower.
  4. Buy several pairs of the same socks, so you never have to hunt for a mate.
  5. Decide your outfit while you brush your teeth to go to bed the night before, so you don’t have to take the time for inner debate in the morning. Or even better…
  6. Give yourself a work uniform, so you have very few choices to make when dressing. (I loved this piece by an art director,  “Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day.”)
  7. Always put your keys, wallet, sunglasses, and cell phone away in the same place, so you don’t have to spend any time hunting for an important possession.  (Can’t find something? Here are 8 tips for finding misplaced objects. Bizarrely, I’ve found, these tips really do work.)
  8. The night before, gather everything you need for the next day–papers in your briefcase, exercise clothes in the gym bag, the book you’re returning to a friend at work.
  9. Always keep gas in the car.
  10. Drink the office coffee instead of stopping at a coffee place on your way to work.
  11. Convince everyone in your household to follow these same tips.

How about you? What tips and tricks do you use, to help yourself get ready faster each morning?

  • Mimi Gregor

    I shower and wash my hair in the evening, so that it’s a big chunk of time moved to a time slot when I have time to do a good job styling my hair (which looks better and smoother after being slept on). In the morning, I just go over it with the dryer and a brush for a few seconds.

    I have a capsule wardrobe, and everything goes with everything else. (I limit myself to black, red, and white.) I could just reach in my closet and pull random items, and be assured that they would look good together.

    I have one purse for day wear, so there is never an issue about transferring items from one to another.

    My keys and sunglasses are always kept on a hook by the door. I NEVER put them anyplace else.

    I put everything I will need on a table by the door (and sometimes I put things in my car) that I will need the next day.

    • Ev

      I do a lot of what you do too. But I put on my clothes, jewelry etc and then I bought a beautician cape and put it on over my clothes to put my makeup on. This way I know there are no problems with my clothes. Before i would put all of my makeup on and then get dressed and then find out I lost a button or something and have to change and then that would take up more time. This way once my makeup is on, I am ready to go.

  • Gillian

    This will likely be regarded by many as utter heresy, but here goes.

    Think about the things you do that are really not even necessary. Do you really need to shower EVERY day? Do you really need to wash your hair EVERY day? If you do heavy physical work then the daily shower is likely necessary. Otherwise, for most of us, a shower every 2nd or 3rd day is perfectly adequate. Then each morning in between, you just need to quickly wash the couple of body parts that need it. Saves time, water and energy. The daily shower/shampoo ritual is just habit and social convention, mostly created by advertising. In most cases, your scalp will generate oil in reaction to how often you wash it and can be gradually trained. My hair looks best 2 or 3 days after I wash it.

    Similarly – How much makeup do you really need to wear? I’m amazed at how much time (and money!) some women are prepared to spend on this. Most people have perfectly nice skin that doesn’t need anything covering it up. A little bit of mascara and lipstick perk up the appearance quite adequately. Save the whole routine for a special occasion or evening out.

    It might take a while to get your brain around these ideas but once you do, life becomes much simpler.

    • I agree! With my naturally curly hair, it looks best when I only wash it once every 4-5 days. I also don’t need a shower daily except in summer. Other times it’s a “PTA” bath. I also lay out my clothing the night before. I get up at 4:30 to write for a couple of hours before the household wakes, so I don’t want to be bumping around getting an outfit together.

  • Stephanie S

    Having breakfast planned out as well is very helpful for me.

  • Amorita Maharaj

    I check for the weather update the night prior so I know what to expect the next day, what I need such as an umbrella or a cardigan and what I most probably will wear. Saves a ton of time in the morning.

  • 5.0Mustang

    Two things I’ve done that have improved my morning routine immeasurably:

    1) Cold showers. I had read about the health benefits decided to give it a try. I have been going strong for a year now and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It is really quite invigorating…you do get used to it and guaranteed you will be in and out of there a lot faster, you don’t need to wait for the water to warm up, and you’ll be a lot more alert afterwards too. I am down to about a minute and 30 seconds or even less from the time I turn on the tap, and I feel great afterwards. I realize that for us guys with short hair, this habit may be a lot more do-able.

    And I do live in the northeast, where during the winter the water out of the tap is quite cold.

    2) I always check traffic on my smartphone and plan an alternate route if necessary. It saves me occasional aggravation and gives me an excuse to take the scenic route once in awhile, which improves my day in other ways.

  • Tara R

    I have a question about the diagram of the four tendencies at the bottom of the post. Does the overlap of the circles have a significance? For instance, do you think that Obliger and Questioner tendencies do not overlap?

    • gretchenrubin

      The circles are HIGHLY informative. E.g., an Obliger can “tip” toward Upholder or toward Rebel, and that tells you a lot about that Obliger. And the fact that some circles don’t overlap is also informative. Upholders and Rebels are the opposite of each other; ditto Questioners and Obligers. That’s an important thing to note.

      A big theme in THE FOUR TENDENCIES book! How the overlaps work.

      Gretchen Rubin

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      • Chris B. Behrens

        It’s interesting – I am a strong questioner and my wife is a strong obliger. A big part of our relationship is my need to take care of and protect her…I wonder if she were also a questioner if I would feel that need as acutely.

  • TulipGirl

    “11. Convince everyone in your household to follow these same tips.”

    Bwahahahahahaha!

  • Jimmy Abbot

    This one is “Drink the office coffee instead of stopping at a coffee place on your way to work ” is far the best one.

  • Nichole Williams

    I love the work uniform tip! i work in a manufacturing plant where I never know day-to-day if I will be around the equipment or in the office. I simplified my mornings by only wearing company shirts and inexpensive jeans every day. I never have to try to anticipate if I should wear something that can get dirty or get upset or ruining a “nice” outfit.

  • Chris B. Behrens

    Get multiple long-running tasks happening independently. For me, this is:

    1. Start microwaving my pre-cooked breakfast sandwich (another tip – pre-cook fifty breakfast sandwiches and stick them in the freezer).
    2. Start the coffee.
    3. Jump in the shower while everything finishes.

    • cinthesooner

      Would you care to share your breakfast sandwich recipe with us, Chris?

  • I don’t have a work uniform but I do have a pretty limited number of work clothes that basically all go with one another, and I don’t wear makeup. That plus following the Marie Kondo method of emptying my bag when I get home at night and keeping all the stuff that comes out of the bag together works for me.

    Number 10 only works if your standards for coffee/tea are in line with what your office stocks, which is definitely not the case for me – I know some workplaces that have seriously fancy coffee options that I’d be delighted to drink, but the place I work is not one of them. That said, making and drinking tea at home in the morning is not very time-consuming and is a satisfying part of my morning routine.

  • Erin Rushforth

    If there are things I need to remember, such as a dish to return to someone or important papers that are due, I put them in the car the night before while I am thinking about it. It means that even if I forget, I didn’t forget them.

  • Maddie

    I have the exact same routine every morning, and I keep the radio on in the background, so that the familiar segments in my favourite breakfast radio show can cue me to move on to the next step. Similar to the idea of setting multiple alarms, but I find it more pleasant (and informative) to have my morning “choreographed” to the news of the day. I also have a work “uniform” that I keep separate from my other clothes and eat the same breakfast every single day to eliminate morning indecision.

    That being said, I hate going fast in the mornings so I make sure to leave 2.5 hours before I have to leave for work, so my “routine” can be both comprehensive and leisurely, including exercise, meditation and reading, as well as the essentials of breakfast and caffeine. I feel so much happier at work when I’ve had my “me” time in the morning when I’m feeling energetic, because otherwise I end my working day feeling exhausted and resentful.

  • Janey Benevides

    Jennifer Scott’s 10-Item Wardrobe and the “le no makeup” look have helped me greatly… if I could just convince everyone else in my life to follow suit…. HA!
    Also if you do wear makeup try to go for products that multitask so your not rummaging through 10 different products.Set out whatever you can the night before. I have learned so many common sense tips that unfortunately I had to have spelled out for me (haha) from Jennifer Scott, her Madame Chic books and her Daily Connoisseur blog. Check her out.

  • cinthesooner

    I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but I’ve arranged a later start time to my work day so I am not rushing out the door just to sit in traffic. I get to sleep an extra few minutes (my dog is my alarm clock) and my drive to work is much less stressful. Of course, I am coming home a bit later, too, so I miss evening rush hour as well. I’ve also simplified my morning beauty routine and wardrobe, as others have mentioned, and now feel more relaxed and productive both at work and at home.