Morning-Saving Tips… AKA How to Get to Work on Time

We've all been there… we look at the clock and realize we are 10 minutes late and still have sopping wet hair and our bathrobe on. As a blogger who posts her outfit daily for all to see, has a dog, a decent commute for work and a ton or responsibilities that pile up each day, I have worked hard to streamline my morning routine so I can get to work on time and still be polished and prepared. Here's a few tips:

1. Don’t hit the snooze button. I know it is sooo tempting, a few more minutes under that comforter all snuggly and cozy. But really think of what you could be accomplishing in those extra nine minutes. Also hearing your alarm TWICE in one morning makes anyone a twinge more grumpy.

2. Be realistic with your tasks. This coming Monday, really see how long it takes for you to feed the cat, take the dog for a walk around the block, put out the recycling, pack the lunches. Also be realistic with what HAS to be done in the AM, and what could be done at a different time of day. When you over-schedule your morning, you set yourself up for failure. Consider packing lunches at night, laying out your clothing, even showering before bed.

3. Keep the TV off. If you want to hear the news, listen to the radio. When you have the TV on, you are more likely to sit down “for just a minute” and wait to leave the house or hop in the shower until a commercial break.

4. Invest in your hair. If you have a great cut and color, you will spend less time cursing your mane and torturing it under hot tools. I have difficult hair – thin but lots of it, not fully wavy but not straight and it seems to never curl in the front and curl too much in the back. And the cowlick? But getting my hair properly cut, trimmed every 6-8 weeks and my color maintained has made hair styling each morning almost product-free and a breeze. It really is possible to get a good cut for ALL hair types. It may not be what the It Girl of the week is wearing, but if it is flattering to your face and hair, then it is stylish.

5. Gut your closet. Take out all your out-of-season pieces, hide in the back the things you don’t wear on a regular basis (interview suits, cocktail dresses) and leave in the forefront only that which fits, is clean, pressed, and looks good when on your body. Donate that which depresses you, doesn’t fit quite right or is not in optimum condition. Remove any item that requires repair and don’t let it back in the closet until it is fixed. Now after this if you only have one pair of pants hanging there… well heck it’s going to be much easier to dress in the morning! Less options means less time to fuss over what to put together. It is far better to own one pair of black pants that fit like a dream and wear them every day, than to have a closet full of ill-fitting, stained and ugly trousers that make you wince each time you catch your reflection.

6. Do your laundry. Often times we fret over what to wear because what we want to wear is balled up at the bottom of the hamper. You should be doing laundry at least once a week. If you only have time (or the quarters) for one load, stop and think about your coming week and what takes precedence – is it jeans and tees for casual events, or is it sweaters and trousers for work? I often put a load in the washer before I go to bed, in the morning throw it in the dryer while the dog is doing his thing in the yard and then fold and put away when I get home from work (this works best for things like towels and workout clothes that can handle being a bit wrinkled).

7. Save the beauty treatments for the weekend. You don’t need to scrub, steam, mask and bleach every day; find a day (or evening) that isn’t the AM to get these things done. My weekday shower consists of shampooing, conditioning, leaving it in as I wash my body, do a quick swipe with the razor to the underarms (and anywhere else if I am wearing a dress or have a special event), rinse hair and go. I wash my face at night, I do the fancy shaving and the scrubbing and the foot polishing on weekends. If your hair, face or skin require special treatment, consider switching your showers or routine to evening.

8. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Your mother probably said this to you multiple times as you grew up, but if you took the time to put things back after using them, you would spend less time later cleaning up your mess. Same holds true for your morning routine – take the time to put back your brush, hang up your bathrobe, store away your cosmetics and you will spend less time searching for something or digging through piles to find what you need. If your moisturizer, your contact lens solution, your deodorant, your shoes, your earrings are always in the same place, you can easily assembly-line through getting ready each day.

9. Keep it simple, stupid. Who needs three concealers, a mattifier, a primer, a foundation, powder, highlighter, four shades of shadow for a weekday? On a day when you have time, play with making a simpler face uniform (hopefully you have started to make a bit of a wardrobe uniform based on previous posts). There are so many new two-in-one products on the market that you may be able to consolidate. For me, I found a powder foundation that does triple duty for all day wear, good coverage and shine control and a shadow quad of long-wearing colors that go great with my entire wardrobe and look great for day wear.

10. Make time for breakfast. Even if it’s a piece of toast as you head out the door, eat something. You may not be hungry now, but you will be ravenous later and it will ruin your whole day, your appetite, your diet, your metabolism and your mental clarity. Instant oatmeal, a whole wheat tortilla with some cheese and leftover meat or veggies from last night’s dinner (fold and cook for like 40 seconds) is a great dine-and-dash solution. Get your breakfast to be a routine and it won’t end up being left out due to lack of time.

17 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    April 16, 2009 / 5:01 pm

    It takes me at least a good solid 5 minutes to apply mascara. I have to get it just right, otherwise I’ll be picking at my eyelashes all day. Another thing that takes me forever is drying off after getting out of the shower, I have timed myself and it has actually taken me 4 minutes to dry off. How is that possible? I do like to pat dry instead of rubbing a rough towel all over myself, maybe that takes longer but it shouldn’t… I have tried to figure out what I can remove from my morning routine, and I have removed liquid foundation (I now only use powder foundation instead of both), and I stopped shaving my underarms unless I’m going to wear a shirt that shows them, or else I just shave on the weekend. I have issues getting to work on time. Now matter how early I get out of bed, I still end up being late somehow! Don’t ask me how, I have no idea! I have tried everything I can think of! It’s chronic lateness! And I’m usually on time for anything else. I like my job. I don’t understand why I can’t be on time for work. I feel so guilty all the time for being late. I have a very hard time getting out of bed. I almost always fall right back asleep, even while the alarm clock is going off! Finally, about 15 min after my first alarm went off, I slowly drag myself out of my warm cozy bed. I go to the bathroom, wet my eyes with water and put eye drops in because my eyes get very dry overnight, then head straight for the kitchen. The night before I get my lunch ready for the most part, so I just put the stuff in my lunch box. I guess so far I’m up to about 15 min into my routine so far (5 min for bathroom and 10 min for getting lunch together). Then I have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, 10-15 min tops. Then I give my dog her pills (lets say 2 min). Then I pick out what I’m going to wear, about 5 min. I guess I could do that the night before but sometimes in the morning I change my mind and pick something else out anyway. Then I get in the shower, about 15-20 min. I try to keep it as simple as possible in the shower, just the basics on weekdays, and yes it takes me that long somehow. Then I get out of the shower, dry off, put my contacts in, get dressed, brush teeth, possibly use the toilet again, altogether I’d say about 15 min to do all that. Then I go to my room to brush my wet hair and do my make-up. Make-up takes me about 15 min. Blow-dry my hair, about 6-8 min. Hairspray and smoothing cream, about 3 min. Wash hands. Put shoes on (this is actually more complicated for me because I currently only have 2 pairs of shoes acceptable for work. One pair has no arch support what-so-ever but they’re brown and match just about every outfit. The other pair is plaid so they don’t match everything and they are a bit too small but still more comfortable than the other pair. I have only one pair of plain brown socks. This is a problem. I have 2 pairs of plain gray socks. I need more brown socks but I have a hard time finding ones I like that are not expensive. I should probably just buy them anyway because I need brown socks I will have to pay the price for being picky. So sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what socks look best with what outfit and which shoes. Sometimes I just wear jeans and my Uggs because I get tired of trying to match shoes with socks and pants, ugghhh…. I have a difficult time with that for some reason. Then I when I go to work I feel too casually dressed (which is ok, it’s an office job but extremely professional outfits are not required), but still, I would much rather look the part and wear only semi-casual office clothes. I need to go shopping. Ugh… I love shopping but I have such a hard time SHOE shopping! I can never ever find anything I like that is actually comfortable. And if I do then it’s not in the color I want or they don’t have my size. Grr! So anyway back to my routine. Then after I have my shoes on I get my jacket on and get out the door. Lets see, I’m going to review what I just wrote and see how much time that adds up to and see if I’m accurate. If what I just wrote is acurate I should be leaving the house by 8:15. Somehow I leave the house between 8:25 and 8:35. NOT good considering I’m supposed to be there at 8:30 and it takes 12 min to get there plus 4 min to to walk from the parking garage to the building. Sometimes I’m 20-30 min late. Everyone comes in at least 5 min late, so its ok to be 5 min late, but 25 min??? 🙁 not so good! I have tried waking up earlier to get ready but I somehow end up late anyway! It’s beginning to seem hopeless. Do I just have a chronic lateness disorder or something???

  2. Anonymous
    March 7, 2009 / 7:26 pm

    I find that having a garment steamer saves a lot of time on ironing–even works on sweaters. Also, a make-up kit with most of the basics gets kept in the car–I can apply at stop-lights if I need to on the way to work (just don’t anger the drivers behind you by missing the light :)) I keep a few pairs of basic earrings in there, too. I love dual products, like moisturizer + self-tanner and mineral powder make-up, combining powder and foundation.
    To add to the coffe notes, prepping the coffee maker (add water, grounds, etc.) the night before (or setting a timed machine) makes it so all you have to do is flip the switch.
    Thanks for all the other tips!

  3. December 16, 2007 / 5:49 pm

    If I start the load around 10pm, it finishes around 10:30 – 11. I wake up at 5:30 and switch it over and it still smells fresh. If I waited say 12 hours or more I would worry about mildew, but for about 6 hours, I have never encountered a problem.

  4. December 16, 2007 / 4:19 am

    I’m puzzled about tip #6 re: the laundry. You wash the load of laundry at night and throw it in the dryer in the morning? So the clothes sit wet in the washer overnight? Doesn’t it get all mildew-y?

  5. December 10, 2007 / 7:16 pm

    We have the same type of hair! Greta tips, thanks!

  6. December 9, 2007 / 12:19 pm

    I completely agree with you about regular cuts. I get my hair cut every five weeks (if I wait any longer, my hair gets weird) and my hair always looks healthy. My stylist and I evaluate and tweak the style a bit each time as I’m letting my hair grow out. So far so good, no awkward styles yet and it’s currently at that medium length where it’s hitting my shoulders.

    I used to be of the haircut-once-a-year mindset but my hair is like yours (fine, but a lot of it) and it would look technically long but was in such bad condition with inches of damaged, see-through ends that the stylist I would see (new one each time) would chop off inches and inches and I would hyperventilate on the way home and vow to never get another trim for a long time. And I never wanted any layers. thus a pattern of eight trims in eight years and not so pretty hair.

    Then something clicked and I began to choose healthy hair over long hair in a year, and had my hair cut into a bob (which is growing out now). Makes each morning so much easier when styling hair to have hair that looks really good and falls into place easily.

    Then

  7. chyea?
    December 5, 2007 / 9:55 pm

    and blush, eyeliner and mascara… ooops

  8. chyea?
    December 5, 2007 / 9:54 pm

    MMMM…. I used to wear a million things for makeup in the morning. Then I realized that I had to consolidate it. I too am addicted to the look of flawless skin. But, one thing I make sure to do on the weekends/early friday night is to have a mini facial. It keeps the skin looking good, which leaves me needing tinted moisturizer and loose powder and nothing else for that fresh face.

  9. December 4, 2007 / 2:56 am

    Your tips are spot on! The TV gets me every morning because I just have to see the next topic on the Today Show! lol

    My biggest morning time killer is deciding what I’m going to wear. If I don’t pick my outfit the night before, consider me at least 30 minutes late!

  10. December 3, 2007 / 4:02 pm

    Wow I loved this post! Really great tips here. As a college student who’s pretty much always running a little late in the morning due to spending too much time getting dressed, it was nice to read this article. Thanks for posting it!

    – Briana of College Fashion

  11. Adrienne
    December 2, 2007 / 8:24 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I used to be a working woman, but I’m now a SAHM. I still have to get ready fast, though! I’ve found that spending a little more money on good products for hair, skin, etc. yields better results, less frustration, and saved time. KISS is also a great thing.

    I know some people must stop and get coffee. It’s a huge time killer. When I was working, I had team members who were chronically late and actually blamed it on their morning coffee wait. Make your own coffee and save money — plus, no risk of spilling on your picked-out-the-night-before outfit!

  12. December 1, 2007 / 4:42 am

    Hmm. I definitely have to meditate on #9. I am embarassed to admit that I am currently using no less than 4 (yes FOUR) concealers (no, I am not the elephant man, just addicted to the look of flawless skin), and 3 (THREE) blushers. It must be working though, because people at work ask me how I look so fresh. I wake up looking like a corpse.

  13. danilish
    December 1, 2007 / 1:27 am

    KISS really works. It sometimes makes me look better as opposed to worse. thanks ally 🙂

  14. November 30, 2007 / 9:47 pm

    Great advice! For me, the most important thing is to set my entire outfit out the night before; down to the underwear and jewelry. It used to be that I would be all dressed and unable to find the brown trouser socks that I thought were clean!

    I love reading your blogs!

  15. Anonymous
    November 30, 2007 / 8:24 pm

    I don’t know how many women can do this, but I get my armpits and lower legs waxed about once a month. I’ll admit I’m fairly bare in the hair department (might actually have to do with all these, decades of waxing) but it sure saves a lot of AM time.

    Christine

  16. November 30, 2007 / 4:46 pm

    Awesome suggestions. After paring down my wardrobe to about 25% of it’s original size at the beginning of the year, I can get dressed SO much easier, and more quickly. If only I could get in the habit of deciding what to wear the night before…AND of packing my lunch the night before.

    Also, for girls with long, thick hair that takes forEVER to dry, I’d suggest blowdrying the night before, even if you just spend minimal time and your hair looks like a crazy, frizzy mess. I get the drying done the night before, then use the flat iron or use a curling iron to create barrel curls the next morning, when my hair has simmered down a bit.

  17. November 30, 2007 / 4:37 pm

    Great suggestions! I’d like to add that you CAN do a mask and mini-deep condition in the shower. Just wash your hair, slather on a heavy conditioner, put a deep pore mask on your face, and then exfoliate your body and shave. By the time you’re done with that, the mask will have worked and your hair will be well conditioned. Use a scrub to exfoliate the mask off, rinse hair and face, and you’re done!

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