The Secret To A Successful Morning Routine – Work Backwards


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Not being a morning person has always made me dislike that time of day – so I thought that I would have a go at taking the thinking out of mornings a little, and create a morning routine that works once and for all to make mornings that bit easier.

The Secret To A Successful Morning Routine - Work Backwards

I have fought against creating a morning routine for a while now – but having one in place can have so many benefits:-

  • It takes away the need to think much in the morning when your brain isn’t yet in gear
  • You are safe in the knowledge that if you follow the routine you will be out of the door on time every day – so you are less stressed
  • Giving a routine to your children can help them to become more independent and give them more responsibility which they tend to love!
  • Everyone knows what they are doing, so there’s a better chance of a shout free morning!
  • Lots of people needing the shower? having a routine in place means that everyone has an allocated time and there aren’t so many arguments.

It’s almost silly not to have a routine after all those positives!

But isn’t routine boring?….

Routines can be seen as things that are too rigid, that keep you tied to a tight schedule, and not very interesting – but having a few routines in place can really help your day go well – the trick is to make them easy enough to follow that they become habits eventually.

Creating routines and habits means that you naturally start to use your time better, and get more out of it – which can mean you get to lie in, or get more done each morning – and creating a stress and hassle free morning sounds good to me – what about you?

Work backwards for real results

Having decided to create my morning schedule I found that the easiest way to do it was to work backwards.

Let me explain!

Here are the steps I used to create my own morning routine…

Step 1 – Know when you leave the house

The main objective of creating a morning routine is to get out of the door on time, with everything you need for the day in hand.

As such, there will be a time that you need to leave the house to make sure you aren’t late for school/work etc….

Write this time down at the top of your piece of paper.

Step 2 – Get to grips with what tasks you do each morning

On the same sheet of paper, write down a list of EVERYTHING you do each morning – and you may want to do this over the course of a couple of mornings so that you really become aware of what you are doing.

Things that you may want to include are as follows:-

  • Get up
  • Exercise
  • Shower
  • Get dressed
  • Makeup
  • Do hair
  • Breakfast
  • Talk/read with children
  • Pack lunch(es)
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Prep food for evening meal (take things out of the freezer, chop veg etc…)
  • Sort out bag(s) for the day
  • Check diary for the day

Think of everything – however small – it all takes time to do – and try and write it in the order that you would do it as well (this will show anything that can be done in parallel with each other as well).

TIP – always add a contingency at the end of the list as well – as you never know what may crop up unexpectedly during a morning – the phone ringing, someone at the door, breakfast spilt down a school uniform etc….. can all throw you off unless you’re prepared for it.

Step 3 – Declutter the list!

Just as with most organising projects, decluttering comes into it!

You may think that everything you do each morning has to be done – but actually there may be things that you can easily take out of the list that don’t help you get towards the goal of getting out of the door on time.

  • Things that could be done the night before (sorting clothes out, checking your diary etc…)
  • Things that waste time for you / are distractions (Catching up on Facebook, watching TV, checking emails etc…)

Basically you want to ensure that only the tasks that really help you in the mornings to get ready for the day are on your list.

Step 4 – Understand how long each task takes you

Lastly – write down alongside each task how long it takes you to do.

TIP – My advice here is don’t guess – actually time yourself a couple of mornings as then you will be sure of how long it really takes.

By this I mean that you need to know about any time restrictions on any of the tasks you have written down – for example – do you have to be showered and dressed when the children wake up?, or is there a queue for the shower after a certain time (or do you have a time slot for the shower)?

If you do have any of these type of things, it’s worth adding that specific time to your list against the task that it relates to – as then you can ensure you plan around them.

Step 6 – Work backwards to see what time you need to wake up…

If your list is roughly the right order then you can simply work backwards from the time you want to leave the house, taking away the time each task takes from the time you are on, adding that time to the task itself, and eventually ending up at the time you need to wake up.

For example – your list may be as follows:-

  • Wake up / Have a shower (takes 10 minutes)
  • Get dressed (takes 15 minutes)
  • Wake up children (takes 5 mins)
  • Prepare breakfast (takes 10 minutes)
  • Eat breakfast (takes 20 minutes)
  • Tidy Kitchen (takes 10 minutes)
  • Get coat/shoes on and pick up bag (takes 5 minutes)
  • CONTINGENCY – 10 mins
  • Leave house (8.30)

If you were to create a routine from this it would look something like this (working backwards):-

  • Want to leave the house at 8.30
  • CONTINGENCY (10 mins) – this can be used for anything – aim therefore to be ready by 8.20
  • Get coat/shoes on etc… (5 mins) – 8.15
  • Tidy Kitchen (10 mins) – 8.05
  • Eat breakfast (takes 20 minutes) – 7.45
  • Prepare breakfast (takes 10 minutes) – 7.35
  • Wake up children (5 mins) – 7.30
  • Get dressed (takes 15 minutes) – 7.15
  • Have a shower (takes 10 minutes) – 7.05
  • Wake up – 7am

(I would also ensure that the time my routine creates for getting the children out of bed (7.30 in this example) is also good for them and gives them enough time to do their morning routines as well)

So, now you are aware of the time you need to be setting your alarm clock for each morning!

As long as this is an acceptable time for you (i.e. you haven’t just fallen off your seat when you realised when you should be getting up at 4.30am every morning to get everything you want done….), then you can write up your routine (or fill in the printable I have made) and start following it.

TIP – If the time just won’t work for you then you may want to take a look at a post I wrote a while back all about creating a hassle free morning – this has lots of tips on how to make mornings more simple – so you may want to read this to see if there’s anywhere you can streamline further to make things a little easier for you.

Step 7 – Make it obvious

Now you have your morning routine sorted out, I advise sticking it somewhere you will easily see it each – usually a bathroom wall, inside a wardrobe door, or in the kitchen work well – but do wherever is right for you.

The Secret To A Successful Morning Routine - Work Backwards

I hope this has inspired you to create a morning routine of your own.

Good luck – and I hope it makes your mornings run that little bit more smoothly from now on!

This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...


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