Where’s my other shoe? Do I need an umbrella? Wait, what time are you supposed to be at school?!

A hectic morning routine can make anyone crazy, and a challenging morning can leave you feeling off-kilter all day long. Even worse, when you’re harried and running late, you’re more likely to be distracted behind the wheel.

So what’s the secret to a smooth morning? It’s simple: start the night before. Here are 5 items to check off before you hit the hay, so you can start your day on the right foot … and with both shoes.

1. Peruse your schedule the night before

Nothing can derail your morning faster than realizing you had an early morning meeting or your child had early-morning band practice. Going over your calendar the night before helps ensure that you can get where you need to without scrambling and that everything’s prepped (tuba, I’m looking at you!).  So if Wednesday is “Library Day,” stick the bag by the door so you’ll trip over it as you walk out. Or, even better, put it in your car.

2. Prep your lunch

Lunches brought from home save money and calories too. But during the morning mayhem, you’re probably not in the mood to chef up a salad or get creative with a bento box. That’s why the best time to prep lunch is the night before. Your kitchen’s already torn apart, for one thing, so why not take advantage of what’s strewn across your counter to prep that sandwich or salad? It also allows you to put your leftovers to work. Excess pasta becomes a salad with some vinaigrette and veggies, and that chicken breast can have a new life as a sandwich filling. Your kitchen (and your stomach) will thank you the next day.

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3. Plan your route

Very little causes as much stress as unexpected traffic. Naturally, you can’t predict accidents and the like, but you can plot out your route and have your map app estimate the drive time, especially if you’re headed to a meeting at a new location. That way, you’ll have ample time to arrive at your destination safely, without being tempted to succumb to road rage or hazardous driving maneuvers.

4. Assemble your outfit

A closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear: a common refrain, especially when you’ve mentally planned an outfit only to find the trousers are at the cleaners, or the dress needs to be hemmed, or the bracelet has been repurposed on your teen’s arm. Savvy morning masters take out the entire outfit the night before we’re talking top to bottom, accessories and all to make sure they don’t get derailed with a clothing emergency, or realize they’re sporting one black and one brown shoe as they present at a meeting.

5. Make breakfast a no-brainer

Save the pancakes, eggs, and magazine-worthy presentation for a lazy Saturday. If you have kids, show them how to shake out some protein-rich cereal, chop up a banana, and finish it with a dash of milk. (And, of course, show them how to rinse out the bowl and stow it in the dishwasher.) Other healthy morning items to keep on hand for a quick but satisfying morning meal for the whole family are smoothie ingredients, oatmeal or breakfast bars, and fruit you can grab on the go. For even faster morning meals, stage your table the night before.

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DIY hacks | Home and garden | Uncategorized

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.