I am not a morning person. Never have been. Foolishly though, I thought having kids would change that. You have to be up early with kids, right? Right. But you don’t have to be happy about it. You don’t have to be good at it.
Even if you don’t have kids, when you have a job that requires you to start work in the morning, you have to get up, get ready and get to work. For many of us, this is a never-ending struggle and the struggle is real.
So now I’m up early most days of the week (thanks, weekend sport!) but I’m invariably grumpy, disorganised, late and frantic. Throw three kids a husband and two dogs into the mix and it’s chaos. Chaos caused by me and my morning disorganisation, usually.
So I’m always looking for ways to make my morning life a little easier. Smoother. Less shouty.
The key to this, I’ve discovered, is to reduce and preferably eliminate the number of choices you have to make between getting up and leaving your house. Barack Obama famously wore a dark blue suit every day of his presidency pretty much for this exact reason. If the human brain only has the capacity for making a certain number of decisions every day and a finite amount of energy for making those decisions well, he wanted to minimise the number he wasted on matters less consequential than, say, whether or not to start a nuclear war with North Korea.
Get organised with these tips from Madeleine West. (Post continues below.)
Routine is an extremely helpful tool for managing anxiety so in hindsight, subconsciously I’ve always been big on doing the same things at the same times of day. Looking back through my life it’s been a theme. Routine makes me feel safe and it gives my brain a rest. Like putting a plane on autopilot for a bit so the human pilot can have a nap, go to the loo and grab a snack without the plane crashing into a mountain.
Routine – and the welcome elimination of choices it brings – is like autopilot for your life. And it eliminates friction, allowing you to better glide through things that are stressful. Like mornings or travel. Or mornings.
Some of the morning routines I have include:
- Setting my alarm for the same time every weekday morning.
- Eating the same thing for breakfast.
- Exercising for 30-40 minutes each morning.
I draw the line, however, at wearing the same thing every day. Clothes give me pleasure. They’re one of the ways I express my creativity. Wearing the same thing every day would crush my soul. Not dramatic at all.
But – or possibly because of this – getting dressed each morning and deciding what to wear is a major pain point in my routine, mostly due to this: the outfit you have in your head looks great but when you go to put it on your actual body, it often looks very different. Sometimes there are stains. Or items completely missing (Did I leave that denim jacket in my car? The cafe I went to yesterday? A parallel universe where half my socks live?). Sometimes you just can’t put together the right clothes for how you want to feel that day, what you need to do or who you have to be. This is where the wardrobe crisis lives, the frantic putting on, frowning, flinging off and putting something else on hell that can leave you stressed, sweaty and chew up valuable minutes you don’t have.