10 Tips for Making This The Best Morning Ever

Mornings have a way of tangling themselves up into a snarled mess of a thing that the cat bats away until it's totally lost. This time can be harrowing and hurried and preoccupied with this idea of preparing for the next space you're going to be in, be it work or school or whatever.

And frankly, it sucks.

Mornings like that, where you don't know where they've gone, where you're rushing through, where you're checking the clock constantly to see how late you now are, are the absolute worst, and they set up the rest of your day to be stressful and terrible. Let's stop having them, hmm?

Let's reclaim the morning. Let's make morning it's own time in our day, rather than a time to prepare for another. Let's find ways to eliminate guilt and frustration and stress and rushing. Let's use adjectives like fun, peaceful, and productive to describe our mornings. Let's make them everything we want them to be.

That's a power we have. Let's use it.

Below you'll find 10 tips I've used to make my mornings better. Maybe some of them will work for you too? Remember, this is a process, and not every morning will be perfect. But we can move them in that direction.

And, please share your own favorite tips!

1. Find an alarm that works for you. And also know that in order for it to keep working, you may have to switch it up. Setting the same song as my alarm every day has ruined songs for me, so I don't do that anymore. Right now I'm actually using two alarms, and it's working pretty well. My sunrise alarm starts gently waking me up about thirty minutes before my alarm, my iPod starts playing music (that I selected the night before) 10 minutes before I actually want to be up, and then the sunrise alarm beeps at the time I actually set my alarm to. Sometimes I only use the sunrise alarm, but I like adding in the music to get my mind going.

2. Pick one good reason to get up in the morning. Maybe it's a good cup of coffee. Maybe it's quality time with your dog or kids or significant other. Maybe it's time to read or practice your craft. Maybe it's the love of quiet. Maybe it's getting to the gym before it gets crowded, or going for a run before it warms up. Maybe it's simply important to you to be on time. Pick one special thing that you can get out of your morning if you get up on time, write a keyword on a sticky note, and put it over the time on you alarm clock. That way when you roll over to hit the snooze button, you'll think about that reason instead of how early it is. Then if you roll over and go back to sleep, you're saying that sleep is more important to you than this thing. Some days it will be, and that's okay.

3. Create a morning ritual. If you haven't written down what your ideal morning would look like, you should! This process will help you identify what you'd like to get out of this time, how early you actually need to get up, and help lock down the order in which you should be doing things. This could be as loose as a brainstormed list or as detailed as allotting time for each activity. If you can stick to doing the same things every morning, your schedule becomes a ritual and thus easy and automatic. Don't be afraid to consult your brainstorm or create a checklist until you get your ritual down!

4. Make the bed as soon as you get up. This helps eliminate the temptation to get back into it later in the morning (am I the only person who wants to lounge after breakfast?) and is a quick way to make your bedroom look more clean and organized. I have definitely found that my mental state directly correlates to the physical state of my home, so this is a big one for me.

5. Get the must-haves done first. Have you ever had one of those awesome mornings where you cleaned your kitchen and made the bed and took your dog on a long walk and read the news and worked out and did all of these great things and then were late to work because you started getting dressed too late? After you've created your morning ritual, look back and figure out what your can't-leave-the-house-without-doing list items are and try to put these first in the queue for the morning. You can probably stop in the middle of loading the dishwasher, but maybe not with eyeliner only on one eye.

6. Listen to something great. I used to like to watch TV in the mornings while I ate breakfast and did my makeup, and I still do sometimes, but it slows me down and takes me out of the present, which isn't what I want from my mornings. It's so much easier to move from room to room, indoor to outdoor, when you're listening to something on your phone instead. My mornings usually include a mix of music and podcasts/audiobook.

7. Do one productive thing. For some reason I generally prefer cleaning in the morning, so I like to give myself time to do the dishes. Your productive thing could be catching up on emails, getting dinner in the slow cooker, straightening up your bathroom counter, or working on an independent project. Having a productive morning sets a good tone for the rest of the day.

8. Do one thing for yourself. Meditate. Do yoga. Make pancakes. Sit on the balcony and drink a cup of coffee in silence. Take some time finding the perfect thing to listen to during your morning commute. Read a book, or make a dent in your blogroll. Watch Good Morning America. Whatever you want it to be, and it may be different things different days, take a few minutes out of the busy and just be happy doing whatever you want to be doing in that moment.

9. Have fun getting dressed. Take this out of the realm of obligation (I have to look a certain way for my job/school, or I have to look a certain way to be happy with myself, or people expect me to look a certain way) and have fun with getting ready. Be creative. You get to choose who you want to be today, and your outward appearance is how you signal this choice to everyone else. Upbeat music and dancing are two great ways to liven up this process.

10. Set an alarm for 15 minutes before you actually need to leave. This will remind you that it's getting close to time to go, and still gives you time to put on your shoes, make your lunch, rinse your breakfast dishes, brush your teeth, find your keys, or whatever little last minute tasks you have to do. You may also want to set a second alarm for when you absolutely need to leave the house if you tend to run late. Nothing ruins a good morning like the stress of rushing to work.

Yours Truly, Jen

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