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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

Morning Mayhem: How to (Finally!) Get Out the Door on Time

If you’re not a morning person, making it into the office bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by 9 AM can be pretty much—well, difficult, if not impossible. Nothing sounds better than those extra five (or 50) minutes in bed—until, of course, you’re scrambling around, tearing the apartment apart looking for your keys, and ending up on the subway with mismatched shoes.

But, fellow night owls, not every morning for the rest of your career needs to be a race to the finish line. The secret to getting out the door in one piece is a little preparation prior to the AM hours. Try these simple tweaks to your routine to finally get out the door on time.

Forget Forgetting

Eliminating last-minute searches for that one darned thing you always forget (hair tie, I’m looking at you) will save you serious time, not to mention stress.

Keep all your necessities—wallet, keys, phone, ID card, and headphones—in one spot. Set out a pretty decorative box or tray in plain sight, ideally near your door or entryway, that beckons you to drop your essentials there in the evening. It sounds simple, but it works.

Then, if you need to bring something that’s not part of your usual routine (a bagged lunch or important papers), write a post-it to yourself and stick it on your alarm clock, phone, or the back of your door. Your morning self will love your evening self for it!

Also keep a bowl of ready-to-eat fruit (apples, bananas, oranges) by the door: It’s beautiful, and you’ll always have breakfast ready, even on the run.

Get Your Outfits Organized

Spend half a day one weekend rearranging your closet, and you’ll save countless hours getting dressed in the mornings. Carve out a separate section in your closet with all your office-appropriate dresses, blazers, cardigans, pants, and skirts, pushing everything else to the sides. You’ll never need to fumble with your sequin tank while hunting for your blazer again!

In addition, you should put in plain view at least one default, no-fail outfit that fits, flatters (even on bloated days), and ideally, never requires ironing. My personal go-tos include silk blouses with season-less wool blend pants and black shifts with cardigans. Or, take snapshots of your favorite workday ensembles and hang them in your closet—when you need inspiration, you’ll have it right there!

Pick an Outfit, Any Outfit

Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to wear tomorrow, hang an “optional” outfit on your door so you can throw it on if you’re running late. More importantly—avoid surprises by looking up the weather the night before. Chance of rain? Forget suede and silk, and pop an umbrella in your bag, too. Cold and windy? Hang the appropriate coat and scarf together and tuck some gloves in the pocket.

The less outfit deliberation you have to do when you get up in the morning, the more time you’ll save. (Plus, bleary-eyed clothing choices hold potential for serious wardrobe regrets.)

Look Polished in Record Time

Polished, not perfect, should be your speedy-morning mantra. Think about it: You don’t need the option of 12 different eye shadows, you just need to have one that you know looks good, ready to go. So curate your AM beauty essentials down to only the ones you need to get ready in the morning, and place them in a basket next to your mirror. (Mine has a hair brush, hair spray, moisturizer, eyeliner, blush, lip balm, and mascara.)

Also figure out how you can banish the blow-dryer from your morning routine. For a huge time-save, shower the night before—I’ve traded evening showers for fuss-free mornings and never looked back. Or, skip daily washes and try a dry shampoo on dirty-hair days: Just spritz on your scalp, brush through, and you’re all set—with perfectly oil-free roots.

Use these tips to save yourself precious time in the wee hours, and say goodbye to hectic mornings. All that’s left is to set your alarm to a your favorite pump-up song and get excited for the day. Rise and shine!

Photo courtesy of Eflon.