Ideas for an Efficient Morning Routine
Even if you’re not a morning person, we can all agree that some days get chaotic and, by the afternoon, you are feeling too frazzled to complete a thorough routine. Over the years, I’ve developed some strategies for ensuring my day starts off on a productive and calm note. It sets the tone for how I will view and tackle the rest of my day.
1. Complete a priority.
I love to work out in the afternoons when the sun is shining and I can consider it a way to decompress from my day. However, too often, I get to the end of a long work day and am either too tired or too overwhelmed to take myself to the gym. I decided I’ve got to work late because there are too many important things to complete, and I let my workout routine slide to the wayside. This year, I’ve decided to remove the temptation of letting that happen by working out in the morning. While I don’t love dragging myself out of bed that early, I do feel a sense of accomplishment at the start of the day.
This doesn’t just apply to workouts! Maybe you always intend to complete your quiet time right after school or before bed, but you find yourself too tired to follow through. Perhaps you’ve set an intention to yourself to read more this year, but it’s not happening. Maybe that pesky laundry always sneaks up on you, and then you’re stuck folding and folding all weekend long. Whatever it is – make a goal to tackle this one priority for yourself before your day has officially begun. Do it every day, so that it becomes a natural part of your routine.
The first thing I do when I get to school is fill up my water cup. If I don’t do it right away, I might forget, so I make my health a priority by doing this first. It seems like such a small gesture, but it makes me feel like I am taking care of myself, and I always appreciate it when I’m parched during the first period.
3. Set the atmosphere.
Before checking my email and before the students arrive, I set the atmosphere in my room. I don’t turn on my overhead lights (I hate those fluorescent lights), but I go around my room, calmly turning on every lamp. I also have an oil diffuser in my room. It helps me to think about my emotional state that day and select an oil that will help create balance. It also helps if I envision what will happen in my classroom that day and try to infuse some positivity in the space before it is even being utilized.
4. Set a "Top Three."
I always set my “Top Three” goals for the day, meaning the three things that I really need to accomplish within that day. Usually, I try to only make one of those things a school-related goal. I review these goals before school starts and make a plan for how to complete all of them that day. For example, my school-related goal will be the priority for my prep, meaning it will be the first thing I make sure gets done on my prep time. If I have a meeting during prep, that might be in my “Top Three” goals for the day, or I will set a smaller school-related goal that I know I can still get done within the work day.
5. Check my email.
I only check my email when I get to Step 5. Email can often be overwhelming and pull us in a million different directions. When I check my email in the morning, I’m not planning on responding yet or necessarily even reading them. My first goal is to just sort the emails. My general categories are “Parent Contact,” “To Do,” and “Calendar Events.” If it doesn’t fall into one of these categories, I let it sit in my Inbox until I’m ready to respond. (Note: I do try to respond to all emails within 24 business hours of receiving them.)
My “Parent Contact” folder gets my attention once a day, at a pre-designated time, so that I’m not hurriedly or emotionally responding to those important emails. My “To Do” and “Calendar Events” get cleared out once a week. Using these time-blocking strategies means I’m able to focus all of my attention on a particular type of task and am able to handle it more efficiently.
6. Write the agenda.
I always put the agenda on my board so students know what we are working on for that day. It also serves as a good reminder to me about all the content and materials that I need to be covering. I like to have it on the board so that I can also refer to it throughout the class period and ensure that I am not missing anything.
7. The miscellaneous hustle.
With my remaining time, I look over my miscellaneous to-do list. If anything can be completed in two minutes or less, I knock it out during this time. I get these small tasks done as quickly as possible, which may look like I’m frantically rushing about the room like a crazy person, but it ensures that I’m not wasting time writing these tasks down over and over again on the following days’ to-do list.
We teachers know that one of the worst things about our jobs is that we cannot take bathroom breaks at our leisure. At a predesignated time, I make sure to take myself to the bathroom. It may sound silly, but I even set an alarm to make sure I don’t forget to do this! Again, sometimes self-care can show up in the smallest moments and, to me, this is a way I can show myself that I care about my body.
How we show up and set the tone for the day is so important. I hope you can incorporate one or two of these tips into your morning routine to make sure your day starts off more smoothly. If you have a morning routine that you love, would you share it with me? Leave a comment below!