All hail the coffee maker: Early risers get a head start on the day

For many of us, mornings are not the best time of the day and sometimes your coffee maker can mean the difference between a day that goes right and a day that goes terribly wrong.

Whether you’re anticipating a busy day at the office or looking forward to a task-filled day at home, you can make your mornings a lot more productive and a lot less hectic, though, by employing a few time management strategies. Sunny Schlenger, author of “Organizing for the Spirit,” offers tips for effortless and efficient mornings.

Figure out if you’re a night or morning person

It’s true — some of us are indeed morning people, while some of us function much more efficiently at night. Find out when you operate best, and use those times to make preparations for the next day.

“Work with your inner clock and use the time when you’re most naturally alert,” Schlenger says. “If you’re a night person, do as much as you can do at night — leave your coffee maker set to brew in the morning, leave your clothes out, backpacks by the door, etc.”

Make these small actions a habit and your mornings will soon run more smoothly.

“They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit — if you do [these actions] for that long, it will become as automatic as brushing your teeth,” Schlenger says. “What seems a nuisance at first will pay off in the end.”

Use your coffee maker

If you’re one of the many people who can’t start their day without a cup—or two or three—of coffee, you may have a leg up on non-java drinking co-workers. Studies have shown that coffee heightens short-term memory and reaction times. It’s also absorbed through the stomach and intestines and affects your brain quicker than other beverages. Contrary to popular belief, coffee is not addictive, however, it is habit-forming, which means you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you quit.

Keurig Coffee MakerCuisinart Coffee Maker

Check in with your kids the night before

If you have children, you probably already know they have a tendency to surprise you with last-minute tasks in the morning.

That’s the killer in the morning for parents — ‘Would you sign this for me,’ ‘I need money for this field trip,’ and so on,” Schlenger says. “Pick a time the night before to take care of those things then.”

Also, prepare the night before. Iron clothes, pack lunches, make sure backpacks are in order and do whatever other time-consuming tasks drag you down before the morning commute to work.

It’s also important to get both parents involved. If mom and dad live together, make sure both parents pull their weight. No one reads the morning paper until the kids brush their teeth. No one takes off to put gas in the car until the table is cleared.

Something else you can do to help your morning is to simplify breakfast. We’re not saying refrain from occasionally cooking pancakes, but if you’re crunched for time, forgot about elaborate breakfasts. There are plenty of healthy and convenient foods your kids can fuel up on before taking on the day.

Put a clock in your bathroom

Knowing what time it is before you’ve put on your watch will help you stay on track.

“For whatever reason most of us tend to daydream and our imaginations tend to get lost in the bathroom more than in any other place. Having a clock in there is useful,” Schlenger says.

Morning time management

Know how long it takes you to get ready — and work backwards from there. Figure out exactly how long you need to complete each morning task, then work backwards from there to determine when you need to be out the door. Make sure  to factor in a few minutes for the inevitable time wasters and changing your mind about what to wear, fetching the lunch money your child forgot to tell you about the night before — to ensure you’ll have more than enough time to do it all.

“If you plan as much as you can and organize as much as you can, you can leave time for the unexpected,” Schlenger says.

7 tips to improve your morning moods

Dr. Michael Perlis, director of the University of Rochester MedicalCenter’s Sleep Research Lab in Rochester, N.Y., suggests the following tips for a better morning.

  • Always use an alarm, but if you’re a deep sleeper, try using more than one or install a timer on your lights.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule – even on days off.
  • Figure out what your sleep need is (i.e. seven and a half or eight hours).
  • Allow yourself enough time in the morning to ease into the day, rather than run around frantically.
  • Have a caffeinated beverage in the morning.
  • Take a hot shower when you wake up to increase your core body temperature.
  • Though it’s not always possible, having a job that you look forward to is a great motivator in the morning.