How many times have you woken up before your alarm and thought, Yay, I feel totally awake and like I have a ton of extra time to do stuff this morning? Yeah, the answer for me is also never.
Which is why I have a rule: Never leave anything to the morning that you can do tonight. The morning is not a great time for projects. It is not a great time to wrap a present or finish that work thing you need to do or pack your lunch.
But when you're eating dinner at 8 at night, there's not a ton of time left between clearing the plates and hitting the sack. So what if I told you that I found some extra time during the day? Time that you can use to prep for the next day? Because I have!
While I'm all for relaxing when you get home from work each day, there are plenty of precious minutes between your arrival and when it's time to eat dinner. Don't waste them.
Here are six things to do every night before you eat dinner if you want to have a better morning.
1. Go through your mail.
Never do paperwork before you've had your morning coffee! As you walk in the door, grab your mail and quickly sort through it — toss catalogues and flyers in the recycling, open your bills, and pull out anything that needs to be addressed. You might not get to it until after you've had dinner and a glass of wine, but if you open your mail ASAP, you just may be able to avoid growing a pile of junk mail on your countertop.
2. Check your schedule.
Do this early enough and you'll have time to plan for any prep work that needs to happen during the evening, like practicing a presentation, filling out forms for the doctor, or unearthing your rain boots from the shoe pile. (While you're at it, check the weather now too.) Knowing what's coming in the day ahead will also help you with the next three steps.
3. Charge your phone and set your alarm.
Ideally, you can plug in your phone the second you get home from work. Then once you've checked your schedule, figure out what time you need to get up in the morning and set your alarm. (Good for you if you get up at the same time every morning and have a recurring alarm already set!) You do not want to be falling asleep on the couch at 10 p.m. only to eventually stumble into bed without setting an alarm.
4. Pack your lunch (and the kids' lunch, too).
Whether it's leftovers from the night before or a classic PB&J, bringing your lunch is a great way to save money — but it's hard to make the time or remember to do it in the morning rush. Pack it before or as you're preparing dinner, and it'll be easy to grab and go first thing. (If you're planning to have leftovers from tonight, have your storage container ready so you can package them up during dinnertime cleanup.)
Some Lunch Ideas
5. Lay out an outfit.
We have a ritual in our family, during which, as soon as we get in for the night, we all change into our comfy clothes — aka sweatpants and T-shirts, perfect for hanging around the house. While you're putting away your nice outside clothes, it's also a great time to set out your outfit for the next day. Choose what you're wearing to work, and lay out whatever you'll put on first thing — whether it's workout pants for that 6 a.m. SoulCycle class or a business suit. No need to scramble for what to wear!
6. Pack your purse.
Refill your water bottle; make sure your wallet, keys, and sunglasses are in position; and drop in any files or your computer to bring to the office. Sometimes when I need to bring in multiple bags (like a computer bag and a purse), I'll tie the straps together so I don't leave without the extra one. If you've got kids, make sure their bags are packed with anything they'll need for the sitter or school.
What do you between getting home from work and eating dinner every night?