Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep at night because I'm concerned about the things I didn't finish that day or the tasks I have to complete the next day. I'm occasionally tempted to get up and start working before I've even had a full night's sleep. This process doesn't make me happy. If you, too, struggle with the morning routine or feeling unorganized, try preparing every night to help make the next day more productive and less stressful. Here are six things to start with.
Clean up before bed
It's hard to wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes and a cluttered house. Take a few minutes before bed to pick up around the main living areas of your home. Have family members gather their own belongings and return them to their individual rooms. Do the dishes and try to have a clean kitchen. If your home is relatively clean at night, you can get right to the important things you have to do the next day. You also won't get too far behind in your daily chores.
Pack your lunch
If you have school or work, be sure to pack your lunch before you go to bed. Pack your children's lunches too, or supervise their packing. If you do this task at night, you won't be rushed. You can pack a tasty, healthy lunch. Mornings at my house are quite busy. Having lunches made and ready to grab saves time and makes the morning routine more efficient.
Make a to-do list
Making a to-do list will help you focus when tomorrow starts. Having my to-do list out of my head sometimes helps me sleep better, too. Your list can be general or specific, on paper or electronic (on your phone, computer or tablet). Find what works for you and use it. I prefer the paper version. Crossing off items is very satisfying.
Lay out clothes
I can't count the minutes I've wasted trying to find something to wear. Take a few minutes at night to plan what you want to wear the next day, considering your activities and the weather. If you have children who are slow to get ready, have them choose their clothing as well.
Set an alarm
Setting an alarm is helpful, but getting out of bed when the alarm goes off is most important. If you can’t wake up on your own at the right time, set an alarm and then get up! I have my older children set alarms and wake themselves up, too. It’s good practice for being independent and on time.
Getting a good night’s sleep sometimes seems impossible, but making an effort to do so means it might actually happen every once in a while. When I get enough sleep, I feel refreshed and ready to start a new day. Learn how much sleep your body needs to be productive and healthy and then try to get that much on most nights. For many adults, around seven hours is a good amount of sleep.
Being organized does take effort, but once you start using your evenings wisely, these tasks will become part of your normal routine. Ideally, you’ll also feel more relaxed and have time for your family. Try some of these six things daily to make every tomorrow more productive.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.