5 Night-Before Prep Tips for a Stress-Free Morning
Ugh, mornings. Am I right? That nagging alarm clock, disgruntled sleepyheads, burnt toast, cereal bowls…chaos just takes right over. Getting out the door is a scramble and it’s a miracle if you don’t have to go back in the house for your phone or your keys or your three-year-old.
But here’s the thing: It really doesn’t have to be so hard. Yes, mornings will probably always be a little bit tricky but with a few quick fixes, you can absolutely eliminate some of that morning stress. You’ll still want to strangle your alarm. That’s a given. But the rest will be smooth sailing.
It’s all about the night before
At the end of a long day, when your bed is calling your name, it’s not the easiest thing to put in another 30 minutes before hitting the hay. But trust me, eking out just a half hour of prep time before you go to bed will make your mornings so much more manageable. And the cool thing about a good morning is that, more often than not, it will lead to a good day.
So here’s the deal: Your evening planning should focus on these five elements to smooth out your morning and start your day on the right foot:
- Sleep soundly
Getting your tasks for the morning in order and organizing them for convenience will help even the most foggy morning brain.
- Plan your outfit. Many precious minutes can be wasted standing in front of the closet trying to decide what to wear. Plan your outfit the night before and get those minutes back. If it needs ironing, do it the night before. Lay out your clothes and include everything — undergarments, shoes, jewelry — and get ready in the morning more quickly.
- Get your breakfast ready. Streamlining your morning will give you the time to feed your body and your mind. Set out a bowl and spoon with your cereal on the counter. Put the bread and peanut butter next to the toaster. Make a ridiculously easy make-ahead breakfast that you can eat or take with you. A little preparation for the most important meal of the day can ensure you actually have one.
- Prepare your lunch and snacks. Nothing is easier than grabbing your food, prepackaged, right out of the fridge. Put together your lunch and snacks for the day in your lunch bag. Then place them front and center on the shelf of your fridge for easy access.
- Give everything a home. Stop searching for your keys, your school bag, and your wallet. Designate an area where all your needed items can spend the night, every night. When you’re done grading, put your papers away and place your school bag by the door. Keep your purse or wallet in that area. Hang your keys or get a small bowl to keep them in. Being more efficient in your habits will make your morning move smoothly and even help your memory — for all those other things you need to know.
You have a lot on your plate, so take a moment to remember all that you’ve done and how you’ve made a difference today.
- Write a “done” list. Make a tangible list of the things you’ve done. Take out your to-do list. Cross out all those completed tasks. Or start a fresh “done” list. Actually keeping track of your achievements will bring you some stress relief and help you focus on tackling tomorrow.
- Journal your day. The evening is a great time to review the day. Use your journal, bullet journal, or planner to answer some questions and reflect on what’s done and still yet to do.
- Did I get everything done on my to-do list? Why or why not?
- Was there a moment that I really enjoyed today? Write about it.
- What did I do right? How can I do more of this?
- What didn’t go so well? How could I handle this sort of thing differently?
- If I were someone else, what advice might I give myself?
- What am I grateful for?
There’s no way you can remember everything you need to do, so write it down. Chaos, changing schedules, and unplanned interruptions can take you off course and mess up your to-dos. These things happen but, when they do, having a list of important tasks can get you back on track to getting things done. So wake up with purpose. You’ll be able to sleep better knowing what your day has in store.
- Create your to-do list. Each night create tomorrow’s to-do list. Include any unfinished tasks and your “must achieves” for tomorrow. But be realistic. Don’t overestimate yourself or your time. There are only 24 hours in a day. And hopefully you are spending at least seven or eight of them asleep. Then there’s family and that pesky puppy that needs a walk. Make a manageable list for the time you have.
- Set your schedule. Take a look at your meetings, appointments, phone calls, and emails for tomorrow. Use time blocks to determine when they will be completed. Organize activities for your morning, afternoon, and evening. Scheduling a specific timeframe to accomplish your tasks helps eliminate procrastination and that overwhelming feeling of having too much to do.
- Adjust as you go. Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean everything will go as planned. Don’t be afraid to adjust as you go. Add to your list when thoughts or ideas hit you. And don’t be afraid to delete items that can wait till later.
- Be home. Separate your work life and your home life. So many of us use time at home to get things done: grading, planning, or cutting out cute bears for that addition activity. But remember to plan time to be present with your family and friends, or even just to be with yourself.
Give your brain a break. It has earned it! Days can be stressful, so decrease the amount of noise bombarding your mind before bed and find a more relaxing night’s sleep.
- Turn off your screens. Stop using your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. It’s been proven that the light from screens like phones and computers actually stimulates your brain and tricks it into wakefulness. Giving yourself time without a screen will prepare you for rest more quickly.
- Do peaceful. Spend the moments before you sleep in activities that you enjoy. Crack that book on your nightstand. Doodle in your journal. Or talk to your partner. Find some peaceful alternatives to the noise of the day.
- Be grateful. Practicing gratitude before bed can lead to a longer and more refreshing sleep. Even just thinking of the things you are grateful for is enough to receive the benefits. Ponder positive thoughts and find yourself drifting off more easily and more quickly.
Sleep has so many benefits. Most of us know that sleep is important, but too many times our bodies are robbed of its benefits in the raucousness of life. Although every person is different, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for adults. So set a bedtime and stick to it. Your body and mind will be happier in the end.
As a teacher, you know the better prepared you are for a lesson, the better the lesson usually goes. Same goes for planning for a kick-butt morning. Make some evening preparations and take note. You just might be start singing in the shower again.
Ashley is an award-winning copywriter and content expert with more than a decade of proven results for national and local clients. From brainstorming high-end conceptual content to styling sentences that engage and convert, she’s got a knack for shattering the status quo. When she’s not in full-on writing mode, she’s hanging out with her rascal of a puppy and discussing the plausibility of unicorns with her 8-year-old daughter.