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I want to maximize sleep and minimize wasted time in the morning.
March 14, 2014 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Due to some changes in my life, I need to start getting up earlier in the morning. Problem is, I am a lazybones and I LOVE to sleep. In fact, I normally WAKE UP and start the day at 8 AM, and soon I will need to report to work at that time. I need to go to work looking very polished and feeling great. This means I need to start showering in the morning and eating breakfast before I go into work. This is going to mean a change in the way I deal with mornings. Please help me make this change as painless as possible.

I haven't had to get up so early in the morning to get ready since I graduated high school. Like I said above the fold, I will soon need to report for work at 8 AM. In order to feel good and be productive until lunch time, I need to make and eat breakfast, and in order to look really good and polished, it is absolutely mandatory that I shower in the morning. I want to get as much sleep as possible, and I have a very hard time going to bed earlier than 10 PM at night. I know that it will take me thirty minutes or so to shower, dry and style my hair, and apply makeup, and the commute to the office should take ~5 minutes or so. How late can I sleep and still manage to do all of these things, plus eat breakfast? I know I can lay a suitable work outfit out the night before to save time, but what all can I do the night before that will make getting ready in the morning easier and maximize my sleep time? Are there any breakfasts that can be prepared the night before that heat up easily and taste great? Any help would be appreciated.
posted by SkylitDrawl to Health & Fitness (55 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
Definitely stage the coffee pot loaded, watered and just needing to have a button pressed. Keep a piece of paper and a pencil handy right now, and start analyzing what you already do for anything that can be significantly prepared ahead of time, like choosing clothes. Anything involving a choice, like clothing, or what to take to work with you (make an area where everything is put together, ready to pick up and go), is better done the night before.

But also, I think your premise is wrong. Instead of thinking about how late you can sleep and still make it, I think you should pick a time that leaves you PLENTY of time to take your sweet time getting ready and still have a cup of coffee and read the paper before you leave for work. Then subtract 8 hours from that and go to bed then. Yes, it seems early.

It's amazing how much better you look and feel when you didn't have to rush in the morning. And traffic doesn't make you mad when you have plenty of time. And you don't forget things in your hurry. It's so much better, even though at first it seems ridiculous to be getting up at 5:30 when you don't have to be there until 8.
posted by ctmf at 6:10 PM on March 14 [13 favorites]


Remember that you don't have to eat breakfast food for breakfast, so if you have leftover soup or something, just go ahead and nuke and eat. You can also make little individual quiche-type things (crustless) in muffin tins, and add whatever you want (cheese, veggies, ham, etc.) to different ones. I find that protein-heavy breakfasts work better for me than sugary/carby ones, but I also don't like to eat until I've been up for several hours (so I eat at work, which isn't possible for everyone). Keep a bag of almonds in your bag for the days when you don't have time to eat before work.

No advice on changing your sleep/wake habits except to just get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. No snoozing. Feet on the floor as soon as it sounds and go drink coffee or shower.

I need a long time in the a.m. to become human enough for work, so I get up about two hours before I need to leave the house. If I go to bed too late and I'm sleepy and grumpy, TOO BAD. I still get up at the usual time.
posted by rtha at 6:13 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


The answer to almost all of your questions (what can I do to maximize sleep time, how can I make getting ready in the morning easier, how can I go to work feeling great) is to go to bed earlier at night. You can't fall asleep before 10pm because that's how your rhythms are right now, but you can change that if you want, slowly, over time. Mostly by easing up on caffeine, making space for earlier bedtimes in your routines, and going to bed when you're tired.

There are all kinds of quick breakfast options, but really I find it takes all of ten minutes tops to chop and fry some sausage and an egg, or make toast and jam, or whatever; if you go to bed ten minutes earlier you can be relaxed in the mornings instead of in an adrenaline-panic-rush.
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:14 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


Set a bedtime alarm. Seriously. Bedtime alarms are WAY more efficacious for this kind of thing than setting 38 different horrifying alarms to wake you up. All of this stuff is habit. It's hard at first, and the more you do it the easier it is.

For me, trying to sleep as late as possible and then go in to work is really awful. Give yourself some time to wake up, stumble around, not have to gulp your breakfast, etc. With your timeline, I wouldn't want to wake up any later than 6:30. Which, honestly, go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am and you've got 8 hours of sleep.

Regular quaker oatmeal made in the microwave is my standard breakfast. Literally 2:00 to 2:30 and you have a hot, delicious breakfast. Skip the "minute" oats, saving 60 seconds is not at all worth their bland taste and soupy gruel texture.

On preview: regarding caffeine, I don't know how much easing up you have to do, but I tend to not have any coffee after the morning breakfast coffee. It does help.

Good luck! Congrats on the new job!
posted by kavasa at 6:15 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Here's how I do this (note: I have breakfast and coffee at work, but I also have a commute exponentially longer than yours)

7:00 AM - Wake up, proceed directly to shower. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

7:02 AM - Pee, comb hair, and brush teeth while the shower water warms up.

7:06 AM - Shower (wash face, hair, and skin, minimal hair removal or other primping)

7:16 AM - Dry hair, put on deodorant, possible makeup if I'm not running late.

7:23 AM - Get dressed. The one thing that helps the most with this is to not have many options. I wear a bit of a uniform: pants + top + cardigan/hoodie/blazer.

7:28 AM - Pack up stuff - laptop, charger, keys, phone sunglasses, etc. For the most part this involves a bit of "everything in its place" organization, and I could probably cut it down a little to make time.

7:30 AM - Start car for the drive to work.

8:00 AM ish - Arrive at work.

You could easily add 20 minutes for breakfast to this regimen and do just fine.
posted by Sara C. at 6:18 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Also, I find that 7-8 hours are plenty for me, so I try to be in bed around 11 PM. I can't see needing to go to bed before 10 unless you have really high maintenance hair or something.
posted by Sara C. at 6:21 PM on March 14


Protein-rich smoothies are relatively fast to prep ahead - frozen fruit in the freezer, a blend of whey and dried milk or whatever in a jar, scoop with some water into a blender and hit the button. Then you can drink them on your commute or at your desk.

But seconding sleep before 10pm. Find a sleep trigger that works for you. For me, it's droning podcasts in a dark room. If you're up till 10pm reading favourite blogs or watching TV or whatever, try to shift that to something in the morning - watch a saved show over breakfast. Getting up at 6am so you have an extra hour in the morning will make your whole day much more pleasant and less frantic, even if you have to sleep at 8.30pm to get that glorious half hour where you're snuggled in bed and drowsily waking up and know that you don't have to hurry just yet.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:31 PM on March 14


It's really hard...I've been doing it for 10+ years and have never really quite got the hang of it. I can do it, but I don't like it. Firstly, you have to admit that you need to go to bed earlier and that it's a drag. I always start out with the "get up early, do everything, eat at home, relax and read news" which puts me in a good mood, but then I'm in "oh fuck" zone and end up late. So for me, it's better to be uncomfortable, wake up, put on pants, go to terrible Dunkin Donuts (only place open when I leave) and eat on the train. Then I'm early. So my comfort, style, preferred diet and definitely night life get lost in the process but by god, I'm on time. (And by the way, your commute time is amazing).
posted by bquarters at 6:38 PM on March 14


Homemade or boughten breakfast burritos that are frozen are fast to heat in the microwave.
posted by michellenoel at 6:39 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


It really depends on your sleep habits- if I don't sleep for eight hours for my job, I have anger issues. So going to bed at 10 and waking up at 6 is not eight hours because of "falling asleep" time, "waking up before alarm" time, "stressing re time" time etc. So I need more time than this. YMMV. If you can sleep for less time, or sleep instantly and not wake up 'til alarm, then great!
posted by bquarters at 6:43 PM on March 14


1. Get enough sleep the night before. Most people need 7 to 9 hours. I'm a grumpy mess if I don't get adequate sleep. If you need to reset your internal clock so as to become sleepy earlier, melatonin can help. (I find that the liquid kind is best, because melatonin tablets often come in higher dosages than needed. With the liquid you can titrate your dose - many times just 1 mg works fine.)

2. I'm a firm believer in waking up in time to have a leisurely, or at least semi-leisurely, morning routine. For me that means waking up at about 5 to be out of the house at 7:30. Yes, that means I'm in bed by 9; I know that doesn't leave much room for evening socializing on weekdays, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

3. I plan my next day's outfit the night before and lay it all out. Shirt, skirt or pants, shoes, tights, underwear, even my makeup and jewelry I have all picked out and ready to go. Likewise, I have my handbag in the same place where I can just grab it and go. Lunch - same thing; if it needs refrigerating it goes in the front of the fridge where I can find it. Anything that needs to be worn or taken to work gets organized and laid out so I don't have to do any planning or searching that morning. This saves me a HUGE chunk of time. When I had a job that required an ID card, I had that right by my keys.

4. No, you do not need to eat "breakfast food" at breakfast. I have been known to eat last night's leftover chicken. The most important thing for me is that it is protein-packed and easy to make or heat up. I'll make a tofu scramble the night before and then reheat it, for instance. If I'm in a hurry, Amy's brand breakfast wraps are great - just pop in the microwave and eat, and they are full of protein.

You get into a routine after a week or so. The critical thing for me is that absolutely everything I need is all ready to go the night before. I don't have to rush as much, I don't forget things, and I'm not scrambling to find a decent outfit.

And speaking of decent outfits: set aside some time on a weekend to go through your closet, try things on to see what goes with what, and make an "outfit plan" as if you were making a meal plan. When I did this it saved me SO much time and scrambling and "oh no, the blouse I wanted to wear with this skirt is in the dirty clothes hamper! NOW what do I wear?"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:46 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


I find that it helps to set the alarm for the time you need to get up, no snoozing. Figure it out--need to get up at 6:45? Set the alarm for 6:45. When the alarm goes off, you MUST get up. If you're hitting snooze, I find that you end up sleeping in.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:47 PM on March 14


Do as much as possible the night before.

Take a nice long bath and do most of your personal grooming. Then, when you wake up the next day you can do a quick couple of minutes in a warm shower that doesn't include washing your hair, but only getting it wet, etc. Effect is the same, cuts a lot of time out of the morning routine, and a leisurely bath at night will help you ease into that earlier bedtime.

Set out everything you are taking out the door. Prepare your breakfast as much as possible. Lay out your clothes. Make tomorrow's lunch.

For the first few weeks, really concentrate on everything you are doing in the morning, and think about how many steps can be done the night before.
posted by raisingsand at 6:50 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Admiral Haddock makes a great point: No snoozing! The snooze button is NOT your friend. When that alarm goes off, it's feet on floor and arms in robe. The snooze button will just steal your precious morning time so you wind up rushing around in a panic. If you are always sleepy and helpless before the siren call of the snooze alarm, chances are it's either you are not getting enough sleep, OR you are being awakened during your deepest sleep time. I have a SmartAlarm app on my phone that I can set to wake me up during the time my sleep is lightest, so I'm not jolted out of deep sleep by the alarm.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:50 PM on March 14


Your commute is five minutes... ok, just taking that in. Congratulations :)

If your laundry's always done and hung, getting dressed is nothing, and you don't have to stress about it the night before, which makes the going-to-bed process less hysterical (ime). It does mean offloading a couple of hours for washing/drying/ironing if necessary on the weekend. Organizing your wardrobe so you can see everything helps; also helps if all your things kind of work together. For backup: fast, expensive steam iron - cuts time on the weekend too. Mine heats up in 60 seconds.

Coffee: get it started before you shower and drink it on the way. Buy 2-3 thermoses so you don't have to keep finding and washing that one.

Food: agree with nuking quiches or burritos and will raise everyone a Jamaican beef patty.

JUST IN CASE you sleep in: hair - will recommend few spritzes of leave-in conditioner and a quick flat iron - skip the coffee and turn the flat iron on before you wash your face. I will confess to having used baby wipes instead of showering. NB: this is exclusively for times you wake up approx 8 minutes before you have to be out the door. Those days, breakfast happens at midmorning break. Drink lots of cold water before then to hang on. I hate those days.

I have three alarm clocks, including a dawn-simulating jobby and the one on my phone that has some very very high pitches as well as a kind of gong.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:55 PM on March 14


1) Do you ABSOLUTELY have to shower in the morning? Can you bathe at night and wash your hair under the faucet/style your hair in the morning?

2) As others stated, get as much done the night before as possible. Get your lunch packed, set out your makeup and clothes for the day, get your bags ready.

3) I saw a great how-to on Pinterest that you may be able to find about making a whole tray of burritos, freezing them, then heating them in the microwave for a minute in the morning. (Plus a burrito is also a kinda on-the-go snack.)

4) GO TO BED. Try turning the TV off and ready for an hour before bed. Screens keep me awake. Trust me, a few days of getting too little sleep and your body will adjust. Try some ZZzzquil if you can't fall asleep the first few nights.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:04 PM on March 14


I find that I need to snooze, so I work in an hour of snooze to my morning and sleep calculations. I also set the "lol kidding" alarm within reach, and the "no sseriously, get up" alarm across the room so I have to physically get up.

If your clothing situation is such that you can set up your outfits for the next week on individual hangers, do that, including components like socks and underwear. If you repeat items from day to day, pull the nonrepeatables to individual hangers or shelf slots so all you have to do is add pants when you take them off.

Morningstar farms fake burgers are not just for lunch or dinner! That's my hot breakfast. Cold breakfast is a protein bar.

It's very individual, but my main tip is to automate your actions as much as you can. My biggest waste of time is finding things in the morning, so pack your bag and set out your clothes early.

I have not tried melatonin, but I have heard that it can give you disturbing dreams and can interact strangely with mood medication, so be careful.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:10 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


One thing to look into is how the change in time will affect your commute. Sounds like you're real close, but you never know. For instance, I now get up at 4:45am to be at work in Manhattan for 6:45am. The door to door travel time is about 45 mins, and that's with bus to subway to bus changes. I used to leave home at 7am and get there at 8:30 - double the travel time. Instead, I now have less sleep time but more prep time in the morning... although that might not be relevant to your job. Personally, I prefer to just get to work quicker and ease into the day.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:15 PM on March 14


Unfortunately, I have very high maintenance hair. It is kind of halfway between curly and straight, so if I don't wake up, wet it down completely, shampoo and condition it, then blow it dry and take hot tools to it to either make it all the way curly or all the way straight, I end up looking kinda crazy.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:19 PM on March 14


automate your actions as much as you can. My biggest waste of time is finding things in the morning,

Yes! To add to that - just use one handbag or backpack all the time; don't mess around with different bags day to day, or you'll figure out too late that the wrong one has your keys or Advil and you'll completely lose it before you work it out.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:19 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Get everything that you can possibly get done the night before, done the night before. Keep your getting ready routine as small as you can.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:36 PM on March 14


I always love reading about people's morning routines in these questions. But in your question, there seems like there's only one variable (breakfast). Work is at 8, commute is 5 min so that means leaving at 755. Shower and hair is 30 min, plus let's say 5 for getting dressed.

So that just leaves breakfast. Are you ok eating a breakfast bar and a nuked cup of leftover coffee? Or do you need a complex cooked from scratch meal? My guess is you could wake up at 7, eat a bowl of cereal and start the coffee maker, take your shower, and be out the door well before 755. But that's assuming you aren't leaving out a few steps, and if so you need to push that back.

(Personally, I like having slow, read the news time in my morning, so I wake up way before I'd need to in a minimalist sense. The downside is needing to go to bed earlier -- you pay the piper at one side or the other, no exceptions.)
posted by Dip Flash at 7:44 PM on March 14


Consider finding a new low-maintenance hairstyle! A really good stylist ought to be able to help you. Besides, in the long run your hair will be much healthier if you stop doing all that stuff to it. If you like cereal for breakfast find one that's high protein, it will keep you full longer than regular cereal.
posted by mareli at 7:59 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


If you eat breakfast at work, it will save you lots of time. We start work at my office at 7-7:30 AM and everybody eats breakfast in the office. You can save your first cup of coffee for the office too. It takes me less than half an hour from getting out of bed to getting into the office, of which 15-20 minutes is commuting, but I've never valued mornings very much. I've always been a night shower person.
posted by pravit at 8:08 PM on March 14


SkylitDrawl: "Unfortunately, I have very high maintenance hair. It is kind of halfway between curly and straight, so if I don't wake up, wet it down completely, shampoo and condition it, then blow it dry and take hot tools to it to either make it all the way curly or all the way straight, I end up looking kinda crazy."

Own the craziness or hide it. I had long long long hair for a while and it was all buns and braids to hide it (ignore the undercut in the last one - I did similar braids when I had a full head of hair). Having wavy hair helps the braids and bun stay in place and you can do a nice and presentable bun without a brush if you use the wave as texture, rather than trying to battle it into what it isn't. Buns in particular look professional.

Nowadays I've cut it short and I rarely brush it beyond running my fingers through it but keeping it trimmed and running leave-in conditioner/slick and shine through it makes the waves presentable. Owning the craziness of it, for the most part, makes it obvious I mean for my hair to look this way. A lot of the time the hair thing is a self-fulfilling prophecy - if you have no experience leaving your hair to be itself, or how to manage it, and treat it as an adversary, you'll always be locked into the constant damage of washing/heat/blow dry and the way that makes your hair behave.

Showercaps are great, though, if you're intent on keeping it flat ironed. Do it once, and stretch out washes as far as you can. Which can cut out a huge part of hair maintenance in the morning.

Setting out clothes makes a big difference to my routine, as does breakfast. So my outfit gets hung up near the bathroom, and I habitually have muesli and milk/yoghurt with a cup of tea for breakfast. I eat my muesli while the water heats/boils and my daughter eats her breakfast, then drink my tea while reading my twitter/fb feeds, and my daughter continues eating her breakfast, then we wash our faces and hands and get changed (we shower at night). Then I make our lunches while she does art or plays, then we walk to school. It's about an hour and a half now, but easily done in an hour and can be crammed into 30 minutes if necessary.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:12 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, I have very high maintenance hair. It is kind of halfway between curly and straight, so if I don't wake up, wet it down completely, shampoo and condition it, then blow it dry and take hot tools to it to either make it all the way curly or all the way straight, I end up looking kinda crazy.

I have hair like this, and also an aversion to getting up in the morning, so after many years of being miserable doing my hair every morning, I decided I had to figure out an alternative. After some trial and error, I went from washing/drying/styling every morning to washing 2 times a week (3 times tops), with just a quick touch-up on non-wash days, or pulling it back with a nice clip. It's made a huge difference in terms of my time-crunch in the mornings.

For me, it was a three-part solution: 1) I found a much lower-maintenance hairstyle (I settled on medium length with long layers, as opposed to my previous styles of either really really long or super-precise chin-length bob, both of which took insane amounts of time to style); 2) I stopped using shampoo and switched to the conditioner-only method for washing (with occasional apple cider vinegar rinses); 3) I started using Unite argan oil for styling (a bottle lasts me a full year, so it's not nearly as pricey as it seems).

Anyway, I sympathize with having difficult hair, but I encourage you to consider if there are some ways to minimize its role in the equation. You'll be really happy if you can.
posted by scody at 8:16 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


I used to be very much like you in the "sleep as late as I can" camp. The solution - and its gonna sound radical - is to wake up even earlier and workout. Its a complete game-changer when it comes to energy level, bedtime and how deeply you sleep.
posted by grateful at 8:22 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]


Here are my tips and tricks:

1) I have insane, idiotic hair and my strategy was actually to grow it out longer (somehow it lies better this way, the ends don't act weird), buy really quality conditioner (this makes a huge difference, in terms of softness/manageability AND preventing oiliness), and only wash every 2-4 days. The first morning I wash, I let it airdry a bit, then blowdry 'til only damp and flat iron my bangs. Then I put it all in a bun or a side-braid. The next day I either do something fun like a messy bun or braid or Heidi braids, or I wear it down with soft waves from sleeping in a braid or bun. The third and fourth day I do whatever it seems to want (leave it down if it's tame, put it up if it's crazy, usually depends on weather and workouts). If I had shorter hair I would wash and flatiron and then basically just brush and arrange every day for 3-4 days (this was me in the past). If I had to go professional (I work in casual/business casual environs), I'd probably stick with bangs + a bun, or else cut it short/medium length for maximum ease.

2) I eat overnight oats for breakfast every morning! They are great because they are light but filling, protein-centric and portable. My current recipe is the following (I make six jars at once):

1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup oats
1/3 of a single-serving flavored Greek yogurt (strawberry and honey flavors are my favorite), or equivalent
1/2 scoop of protein powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds
some blueberries, raspberries or chopped up apple

... it's delicious, like eating muffin batter or breakfast pudding or something. The oats soften up and get really good. Plus, I put them in little mason jars or Tupperware so I can grab and go if I'm running late!

3) Workout! It makes a huge difference for me in terms of energy, deep sleep, and concentration, as grateful says. I recently lapsed on my workouts and it was like I was a different person. I sleep earlier and more soundly when I work out three times a week. Normally I am quite a night owl, but when I work out it changes everything. I am doing the Couch to 5k routine (there's an app for smartphone), and it just feels good, gets me out in the sunshine (when there is sunshine) and makes me feel better.

I also take Vitamin D and iron pills for energy but these probably do nothing and are maybe killing me who knows.



My routine:

1) Drink a lot of water and moisturize before bed.
2) Wake up about 2 hours before I have to leave for work.
3) Get up, pee (because I drank so much water, a great motivator)
4) Put on workout clothes, which are always arrayed next to my bed.
5) Eat morning oats for energy (I put on workout clothes FIRST because it motivates me to go out, after all that suiting/lacing up I'm not going to take them off just to disappoint myself).
6) Grab keys and headphones from the same spot in my purse (always leave them in the same spot)
7) Go outside and jog
8) Come in, huff and puff, strip down for shower if taking one that day
9) If not, wash underarms, face, &c. or take a shower with my hair up so it doesn't get wet
10) Get dressed, arrange hair
11) Go to work (even if early, this varies depending on whether it's a workout day or a shower day). Sitting around the house reading blogs and Twitter only makes me rue going to work and shifts my focus from work and responsibilities to leisure, and I try to get as much work as possible done in the mornings when I'm fed and exercised and focused, and then let myself take breaks and read blogs &c. later in the afternoon when I've gotten a good start on the day and feel in control.

I keep snacks in my desk that make me feel energized (a bag of cashews, 100 calorie dark chocolate bars from Trader Joes, carbonated water, green tea). I especially like a mug of green tea (special coconut-lemongrass green tea, 'cause it's exciting) right away when I get to work, and then a few more mugs throughout the day, continuously if it's a heavy workload.

On days when I don't workout, I sometimes bring my breakfast with me to work and sleep in a bit. As long as I'm working out pretty regularly this doesn't throw me off my game too much.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:02 PM on March 14 [11 favorites]


...high maintenance hair. It is kind of halfway between curly and straight, so if I don't wake up, wet it down completely, shampoo and condition it, then blow it dry and take hot tools to it to either make it all the way curly or all the way straight...
That's what needs to change! I agree with geek anachronism and scody. You need to establish that you have options to that routine. I have found that short hair is higher maintenance than long hair-- and curly/wavy hair is very amenable to up-styling. Wear hairbands or side clips while it grows out, and restrain the mass with some claw clips or banana clips.

That gives you enough time to gulp down breakfast.
posted by ohshenandoah at 9:05 PM on March 14


Basic Face & Five Minute Face
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:07 PM on March 14


Whatever schedule you keep, don't deviate too much on the weekend. Because that's a trap that will ruin your week.
posted by aubilenon at 10:41 PM on March 14


If you have trouble getting out of bed, put the alarm clock across the room -- closer to the bathroom than to the bed.
posted by wryly at 11:17 PM on March 14


Speaking of alarms, if you don't get much daylight in the morning in your room, you might want to consider a wake-up light. I got one a few years ago and it's made a big difference in my ability to get up.
posted by scody at 12:10 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


I'm a lifelong night owl and some of the tips here are making me laugh. I kind of feel like the hot breakfast / leisurely morning / work out and read the paper crowd are natural morning people ;)

The people who are telling you to do everything possible the night before have the right answer, IMO. Set out your clothes. Get your bag organised: keys, devices, whatever you need. I'd skip the serious breakfast: personally I just keep granola bars or Starbucks madeleines in my bag. Maybe buy a super-automatic coffee machine so you can have espresso in thirty seconds.

I also find talk radio helpful for my alarm. If I hear something interesting I wake up curious and engaged, not grumpy.
posted by Susan PG at 12:48 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


I just want to add that I don't think you're a lazybones for wanting to get a lot (or more) sleep. I think most people in modern society under-appreciate the value of getting enough high quality sleep.
posted by crawltopslow at 3:02 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


I would recommend you check how long you are actually sleeping, too. For most of my life I thought I needed loads of sleep, that I was getting eight hours and it wasn't enough. Turns out I was averaging six and a half hours per night. On seven and a half I feel a lot better. So note your bedtime and waking time, they may not be what you think. A lot of time can elapse between official bedtime and actually putting your head down to sleep.

I use Sleep Cycle because my iPhone is right there. There are sleep trackers for whatever device you have. I start it just before I put my head down, and stop it when I am awake for the day. There is a load of stuff about optimal waking and sleep quality that has not really impressed me with its efficacy, but actual time in bed trying to sleep is so useful by itself that I don't mind.
posted by danteGideon at 5:40 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


If you are like me and just not a morning person, it is tough but doable. I am lucky and have a flexible arrival time but should be in at least by 8:30 and have a 35 minute commute. I have tried the morning work out thing many times, and it never works for me. I feel like my body is literally still asleep and do not have a good work out. Also, it makes me tired in the afternoon and evening when I still need to be alert for work. Working out in the evening though does make me tired so I can falls asleep easily.

6:30 wake up, take shower

6:55 dry off, put on moisturizer and deodorant

7:00 put on under wear, make up and blow dry and style hair

7:25 get dressed

7:35 pack up computer, grab keys, put on coat

7:40 start car

8:15 arrive at work
posted by seesom at 6:11 AM on March 15


Unfortunately, I have very high maintenance hair. It is kind of halfway between curly and straight, so if I don't wake up, wet it down completely, shampoo and condition it, then blow it dry and take hot tools to it to either make it all the way curly or all the way straight, I end up looking kinda crazy.

I have hair like yours. I discovered that I can shower at night, wash/condition my hair in the shower, then in the morning just wet it under the faucet, towel dry, and proceed with my morning routine. After I've wet my hair and applied whatever product I'm going to use (curling gel for me), I do my makeup. In the ten minutes or so it takes to do my makeup, my hair has dried enough that it takes a lot less time to blow dry and get ready for the curling iron. Give it a try on a weekend and see how it works for you.
posted by Dolley at 6:44 AM on March 15


Routine, routine, routine.
Takes me about a hour from out of bed to out the door - and it works for me. I don't have to rush and I can take my time so I don't start my day in a flustered panic. One thing I do that keeps me on track in the morning is that I have a few"benchmarks" and I'm aware of about how much time each thing takes. I have to be out of the shower by 6:15, my hair is usually dry by 6:30, etc.. If I notice early that I'm falling behind, I have time to put some hustle in it and still be out the door on time. Some mornings I even notice that I'm ahead of my benchmarks and I can relax a little more.

I make the most out of my time by being as efficacious as possible:
-My Keurig has a timer (not that you even really need one with a Keurig) and before I go to bed, I pick out what flavor I want and load it up with a k-cup and a coffee mug.
-Make your oatmeal first thing so it has time to cool off by the time you are out of the shower.
-Towel dry my hair right out of the shower and apply product so my hair has a chance to air dry a bit while I make the bed and pick out my outfit.
-I turn on my flat iron before I start blow drying my hair so it's ready when I need it.
-Brush my teeth before I put on my make up and clothes. In fact, one of the the last things I do before leaving is put on my clothes - between the cat (hair), possible toothpaste spillage which would necessitate a clothing change, and my powder make up - I don't have to worry about scrambling for another outfit.

Oh and I've had hair like yours. Sometimes there are things you just can't change about your routine and you have to keep a routine that take more time than you want to spend. One thing I did was every other day I wouldn't do a full hair wash, I'd use a shower cap in the shower and use a spray bottle of water and a diffuser to bring my curls back to life.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:59 AM on March 15


I also have wavy hair that really looks strange if left undone. One thing that helps maintain a curly look is sleeping in an old-fashioned hairnet. You might have to go to a beauty supply store to find one, and they are the opposite of sexy, but our moms and grandmas were right that they help keep a "set" in place. Growing the haut long enough to put up in a twist or a ponytail also helps save time, as does keeping a can of dry shampoo on hand. (The John Frida one I use also acts as a pretty good straightener.)
posted by rpfields at 7:29 AM on March 15


If you can go to bed at 10 or 11, you can get up at 6 and have gotten 7-8 hours of sleep.
I love to sleep but I hate, hate, hate rushing. It makes my whole day suck because I've started things off stressfully. Waking up around six means that I can take a shower, wake up, eat, and blow out the door in time to make it to work at 8 or 830am, and my commute is six minutes.

-Let your coffee maker use its timer, so you can wake up to yummy coffee smells. If you drink more than one cup, by all means make a whole thing, but if you just want to grab it and run out the door, look into one of those coffee makers that makes one cup for you. Depending on how you feel about it, you could get a Keurig or one that makes real coffee. I prefer real coffee. That's another thread.

-Look into breakfast casseroles that you can make ahead if you want, or single-serving things like these Special K breakfast things.

-I also towel dry my hair, comb it through, and then do my makeup, eat, etc. before I style my hair, which takes advantage of all that time to let it air dry a bit and shortens my dying time. I don't know if this will work for you, but it really does cut my hairdryer time.

-Stage your stuff right before you go to bed. Decide what you're going to wear, get your work bag ready, etc, and put it right by the door or where ever works for you.

-As fucking annoying as it is, actually get up when your alarm goes off. I set three and I know I have to get up when the 2nd one goes off. If I get to the third one, I'm probably going to run late.

I take a long time in the morning because pottering around and giving myself time to wake up is better for my day. You may not need to get up that early to have the morning you want, but planning and routine helps so much.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:39 AM on March 15


Honestly, breakfast is easy - I scramble two eggs, throw spinach and a little shredded cheese in at the last minute, make toast and it's a 5 minute process. Throw salsa on top and/or wrap it for variety.

Same with oatmeal - boil water, add oatmeal, add brown sugar and milk. Cereal is even simpler.

You can also make a quiche (as simple as buying a frozen crust, whipping eggs, adding some vegetables and cheese, and baking for 30 minutes on a Sunday and then re-heating) that can last you for four days. You just throw it in the oven, get in the shower, and bam - breakfast is ready.

Get good non-stick cookware and clean up is a breeze. Let anything that needs soaking sit in soap and water until you get home.

I even grind my own beans and use a french press, and I am usually actively preparing and cleaning up in the kitchen for 10 minutes or less every morning. There are opportunities to get dressed, put on makeup, shower, etc. while other processes are going.

The barrier to making a nutritious hot breakfast is always in your head unless you have kids to deal with in the morning. Via roommates/partners, it's usually just not hitting snooze, not idly browsing the web trying to wake up, and having the ingredients on hand (i.e., grocery shop.) After two weeks or so, you can do it on autopilot with one eye half open.

Now, between 7am and 8am, this night owl can even get a load of laundry washed and in the dryer without blinking an eye, a lunch packed and a good meal in my stomach.
posted by rutabega at 9:16 AM on March 15


Routine. The goal here is to minimize the amount of thinking you have to do in the morning, when you are not at your mental best.
For example, you can have options for breakfast, but there should be a low-effort, low-thinking default option always available for bad days. I suspect this is why cereal is popular.
If you always do your hair the same way, and find a reasonably low-maintenance style, you can get to where you don't have to think much about it, you just do it. Same thing if you dress in more or less the same style every workday. You can dress and do your hair in different ways on the weekend, when you don't have to worry about getting to work, if you want.
posted by Anne Neville at 9:19 AM on March 15


I kind of feel like the hot breakfast / leisurely morning / work out and read the paper crowd are natural morning people ;)

Working out made me a morning person! Prior to that I was the worst of night owls-- you know that Louis CK skit about how he let entire careers pass him by because he didn't want to get up early in the morning? That was me. I tried not to be up before noon if not strictly necessary, and did everything I felt was worth doing after midnight. But working out totally straightened out my rhythms and made me into a real functioning person who can get up early. I didn't mind being a night owl, but in this world... Just sayin'.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:36 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


What has helped me unbelievably in the mornings is setting not just a bedtime alarm (which, A+++ for that idea), not just a get-up alarm, but alarms to go off to move me from each point in my morning. Mine are more specifically for getting my children ready for school, but they go like this:

1. Get up
2. Figure out what you want for breakfast
3. OK seriously you have to eat your breakfast now
4. Time to get dressed
5. Put on your shoes and socks, brush your teeth and your hair
6. Get your coat and your backpack on and head to the bus
7. Holy crap why are you still here RUN RUN RUN GO

Having the specific micromanaged schedule stops us from doing the thing where everyone just runs around getting in each others' business until it's 3 minutes before the bus leaves and everyone is still in their pajamas and has scarecrow hair. It also means that I don't just zone out reading facebook on my phone and forget to move the children along.

If I, personally, needed to be showing up for work at 8 AM with a 5 minute commute, I would actually set my "go alarm" for 7:45 -- that gives me time to find my keys, de-ice my windows, do whatever interstitial tasks I inevitably forget about. In my experience, allotting less than 15 minutes for breakfast is a fool's errand; my children get 20, and I'm preparing it for them. You may frequently be able to do it in less, particularly if you pre-program the coffee pot, but RELYING on less could be dangerous. So then your "time for breakfast" alarm would go off at 7:30.

If you think you can move through shower/hair/makeup without internal reminders in 30 minutes, then that's fantastic -- although do consider if you maybe want to do your makeup after your breakfast? -- and it puts your "get into the shower" alarm at 7:15. Again, speaking personally as a non-morning person who has to be on the ball in the morning, I need a certain amount of "oh god it's morning time again" time to contemplate the grim reality of existence before I can really spring into action. If you are the same, then schedule 10-15 minutes of that in. That has your "arise from the crypt that is your bed" alarm at, say, 7 AM.

The good news is that 10 PM to 7 AM is nine hours. That is a solid chunk of sleep. If you set your nighttime alarms for 9PM (to lay out your work outfit, pack your lunch, set up your breakfast), 9:30 (to get your pajamas, on, brush your teeth, and read a little) and 10 PM (lights out and into bed) you should be fine.

This over-alarmed micromanagement thing may not work for you -- but boy, it has saved my life.
posted by KathrynT at 11:09 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Another curly/wavy hair person weighing in. I shower at night because it just seems like it takes too much time in the morning. But if I go to bed with wet, loose hair, I wake up looking like I'm wearing a fright wig. So what I do is run styling cream through my hair while it's damp at night and then put it in a bun or ponytail. This keeps it from getting too crazy while I'm sleeping, and the bun/pony actually seems to smooth it a bit. If it's still crazy in the morning, I just wet it and style it again, just with an anti-frizz cream and a comb, not a hairdryer. 9 times out of 10 this results in hair that is presentable and stays that way for 2-3 days.
posted by lunasol at 11:29 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


What worked for me is discovering no-heat styling techniques that I can comfortably sleep in. I did rag curls for a while then switched to one sock bun at the nape of my neck once my hair got a little longer. This smooths and shapes your hair overnight, preventing all the frizzy weirdness that comes from sleeping on it then in the morning I just take a quick shower with a cap on to wake me up, unroll the hair and give it a shake and I've got smooth gorgeous waves or curls in about 5 seconds! Since my scalp is on the dry side I can do this a couple of days in a row without washing, but even if you need to wash and blow dry every night, it's still a huge morning time saver.
posted by platinum at 1:13 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


Stop drinking alcohol. That will make going to sleep and waking up much easier. (Of course, I don't know your drinking patterns but I know it affects me greatly.)
posted by bobber at 3:33 PM on March 15


Serious answer: if you've ever considered getting a cat or dog, now is the time.
posted by susanvance at 6:05 PM on March 15


I have a 15 minute walking commute. It is the best thing ever because I loooooove sleep in the morning.

I use the Sleep Cycle app (iPhone) and really enjoy the Optimal Wake Time feature. It wakes me up when I'm in light sleep (and therefore moving around a bit) within half an hour of my target time. It is SO much nicer to wake easily.

I also have wavy mid-length hair and have found the DevaCurl cut and products to be very helpful. I put my hair up quite often because it is faster than washing and drying it but now that my hair is healthier I can just mist it and it gets nice again. Wavy hair stays put nicely in a Gibson Tuck or similar updos and that takes less than a minute to do.

You may also find this daily list from Unfuck Your Habitat to be helpful:
Unfuck tomorrow morning!
Wash the dishes in your sink
Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
Make your lunch
Put your keys somewhere obvious
Wash your face and brush your teeth
Charge your electronics
Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
Set your alarm
Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Many of my coworkers, particularly those with longer commutes, eat breakfast at their desk in the mornings after getting to work.
posted by heatherann at 11:26 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Recently started a job with a one hour commute. Biggest innovation since I started there are having breakfast at my desk and having everything ready the evening before, no searching around for clothes, wallet or bag. This way I can still take a long shower and be out of the door half an hour after my alarms starts blaring. Also: two alarms with a couple of minutes offset, that way even if I snooze I get another alarm straight blaring in my face again two minutes later.
posted by Marcc at 7:05 AM on March 16


Even if you're not a convert to a leisurely morning, I'd still recommend building in an optional thing like a sit-down cup of coffee as the last thing before you leave. It's a matter of responsibility (or fear, if you have an employer more strict than mine.)

Everyone runs late once in a while. Sometimes I do. The worst that happens (unless it's really extreme) is I miss my cup of coffee. No impact to when I show up at work. If it starts to happen all the time, then I know I need to make a change in something. I do that. I start getting my morning cup of coffee again, which makes me happy. Boss none the wiser.

An excessively over-engineered, over-optimized, latest-start schedule means no buffer. No buffer means when you're running late, you show up to work late.
posted by ctmf at 10:47 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


And remember, you don't have to become a morning person, if you don't want to.

I try to avoid anything that can be a rathole for taking up time. That means no web surfing & no TV. Maybe a quick glance at the headlines or the weather, but I don't want to get sucked into anything.
posted by Anne Neville at 6:18 PM on March 16


A lot of great answers above, but I just want to add/reinforce: drink a large glass of water right before going to bed. It will make it much much easier to get out of bed in the morning when your alarm goes off. Then, at some point in the first few minutes of your routine, drink a big glass of COLD water. It will really help you wake up.
posted by hootenatty at 1:30 PM on March 17


Oh, the cat or dog recommendation-- totally. I used to have a pet rabbit in my room, and it was GENIUS for getting woken up at 7 or 8 AM to shovel hay and food at it.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:46 PM on March 26


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