I have always been an organized sort of person. Being organized, I find, reduces my stress by at about 70%.
If you’re someone who worries, plans, and stresses about the next day while lying awake in bed at night, know that taking care of some things before you hit the sack can be extremely helpful in getting your mind to relax. In this post I’ll share some things I might do in the evening so I have a restful night, as well as a smooth morning and (next) day.
Note: Now you might consider this list (or me!) a little crazy, but you only need to pick and try one or two of these things, or your own, and see how they affect your stress level. Said another way: I’m NOT suggesting you do them all!
In the bedroom . . .
Pick out the clothes you’re going to wear in the morning — this includes shoes and any accessories such as bags, jewelry, and jacket (if necessary). This is one less decision to make in the morning!
Stop using any screens at least an hour before bed. It’s good to have a paper and pen on your nightstand though, in case you have thoughts your mind is trying to hold on to — things like to do’s you’ve forgotten about until your brain settled a bit. If you don’t write them down, your mind will be busy, and that doesn’t help you get to sleep. You can always digitize the thoughts later, when you choose to look at the screen.
In the kitchen . . .
Decide what you’re going to have for breakfast, based on what’s in the fridge and how long your food needs to sustain you. For example: if I know I’m going to be out and about and relying on a protein bar mid-morning to hold me over until lunch, I make sure I have a high-protein breakfast, such as eggs and bacon. You may set out something that reminds you what you planned on having, such as a pan or a plate (often helpful before that cup of coffee!).
Prep the coffee maker: set the timer so that when you’re ready for that first cup it will already be available. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh coffee made — without any effort — in the morning! This is one of the easiest things to do.
If you know you’re going to be running around up until lunch, you want to have something available to eat (without a lot of cooking fuss) when you get home, or a plan for where to eat lunch that’s healthy. This can mean there’s a plate of leftovers from dinner in the fridge with your name on it. It could mean a lunch date at a restaurant with a friend.
In the office . . .
Calculate how much time you’ll need in the morning. For me everything is about a half hour: my yoga practice is 30 minutes, getting ready takes 30 minutes, breakfast is 30 minutes. If I make a little extra “me time” in the morning, I add 15–30 minutes. This means that I set my alarm to wake me up exactly at the time I need to; in the morning I don’t have to second guess (or do math about) whether I can snooze and still do what I wanted.
If you’re leaving the house for work, ensure your bag is as packed as it can be and place it near the door. Check the weather so you have an umbrella or sunglasses handy. If you’re taking public transportation, make sure you have any fobs you might need; if you’re driving, put your keys there.
If you have to drive, take a bus, or otherwise commute, know exactly where you have to be, and how you will get there. Traveling can be stressful, so it’s good to have a plan. Use Google maps, check bus routes, and more importantly, view being early as an opportunity: pack a book or a podcast you’ve been wanting to listen to in your bag.
Make sure there is space in your day’s schedule. I find I do best in two hour blocks, and then no matter what I’m doing, I need to switch tasks. It might be computer work vs. movement, social vs. alone time, whatever. But personally I get cranky and less fun to be around if I fail to follow this advice!
Straighten up whatever area you’re going to encounter first thing in the morning. Maybe that means the kitchen sink is clean and free of dishes. Maybe it’s that your desk is neat and tidy so when you set out to work, you’re not distracted by clutter. (This is especially useful if you work from home.)
I certainly don’t ALWAYS do these things. But the busier I know my day is going to be, the more likely I am to do some of them the night before. Why? Because even if I do just a few of them, I leave my house or set out to work feeling more calm, more centered, and more ready to face whatever happens (that I haven’t prepared for)! And I can stop my mind from worrying about them when I should be getting some much needed rest.