Diary of an Organized Morning

"Wow, she is so organized!" we might comment about someone who regularly shows up for work a few minutes early seeming calm and rested. For most of us that probably sounds like a nice but unattainable dream. Let’s suspend disbelief for a few moments and imagine what might be going on behind the scenes of an organized person’s ideal morning. (Try not to hate her too much.)

7:00 AM
Olivia wakes up feeling rested and ready for the day. Going to bed last night at 10:30 sure paid off! She breezes through her morning grooming with ease in a bathroom holding everything she needs and not cluttered with toiletries she won’t be using. She is able to dress quickly in an outfit chosen last evening and already cleaned and pressed. After making the bed and tossing her dirty clothes in the hamper, she glances around her clutter-free bedroom. There are no clothes piled in the chair nor any scraps of debris from pants pockets or purses on the dresser. She has learned that if she uses her dresser top as a collection spot, the collection just keeps growing.

After a quick inspection of her bathroom, she picks up of everything she used in there this morning and wipes down the sink and faucet. She tosses the empty deodorant container into the garbage and replaces it with a new one from the supply closet.

7:30 AM
Her next mission is to start a load of laundry. Because it is Wednesday, she takes the whites down to the laundry room and starts the load. She usually washes whites on Wednesday and Sunday and dark clothing on Friday. Thursday is “towel day.”

7:35 AM: Olivia pulls out her calendar and reviews the schedule for today and the rest of the week. By doing this each morning, she is reminded of any special scheduling needs her family may require. Speaking of family, it’s time to check on the kids to make sure they are up and going. Her husband is on a business trip so she is “parent in charge” this morning.

7:40 AM
Upon entering the kitchen, Olivia sees clear counter tops and a kitchen sink that is empty and shining. The coffee is made, having responded to a timer she set last night. The dishwasher holds clean dishes, having run its cycle while Olivia slept. She unloads the dishwasher, putting all the dishes away – including the “hard stuff” (plastic containers and serving dishes). She really doesn’t dread the “hard stuff” because she has created spaces in her cabinets to easily hold each item.

7:50 AM
Olivia sets the table and puts out breakfast for herself and her family. The milk in the carton is quite low, but no worries, she pulls out the second carton that she picked up last night after work. The hungry cat is fed from one of the 48 cans of food she picked up last week on sale. She pulls the thawed chicken out of the refrigerator and puts it into the crock-pot with a little water and seasoning. It will smell good tonight when they all come home.

8:00 AM
The kids drag down to the kitchen one by one and have breakfast. Fortunately, their routines are ingrained in them by now and so, before heading off to school, they each put their dirty dishes into the empty dishwasher and do their assigned five-minute morning chore. Olivia hands each one a lunch that was prepared last night and stored in the refrigerator.

8:25 AM
The kids pull their book bags from their hooks and head out. Making it a rule to put the packed-up book bag out before bedtime has really been helpful.

8:30 AM
Olivia makes a quick tour of the house, turning off lights, checking for locked doors, and putting away odds and ends that have been left out.

8:40 AM
She only has 15 minutes before she needs to leave for work, but that’s just enough time to get a few chores done. She checks her personal email, schedules a doctor’s appointment, and adds to her grocery list from the weekly menu she prepared yesterday morning.

8:55 AM
Olivia gets her purse and briefcase from her hook and heads to the car. She glances at the gas gage. It is half full. She makes a note to get gas tonight and leaves it on the dashboard. On a good traffic day, the drive takes 20-25 minutes from driveway to desk, but she allows 35 minutes so that once she arrives, she will have a little time to settle in with a fresh beverage.

9:30 AM
Olivia is settled in at work.

Okay, maybe we all hate her a little. . .life sounds a bit too perfect for Olivia, maybe even a little boring. Where is the stress? The crisis? Olivia's excellent planning has eliminated it.

In reality we will always have some mornings that are a bit hectic – that’s part of life. Add a sick child, broken washing machine, or any number of unexpected dramas to Olivia’s morning and the stress level would instantly rise. The point however is that we don’t need to live in drama or crisis everyday.

So, in Olivia's well-planned morning, what exactly does she do to minimize the stress? She...

1. Follows a before bedtime routine:
   •Decides upon and sets out clothing the night before
   •Makes lunches the night before
   •Runs the dishwasher at night
   •Makes sure backpacks and briefcases are in place before going to bed
   •Goes to bed on time allowing 8+ hours of sleep

2. Follows a morning schedule, aware of the time by which each task      needs to be completed

3. Declutters regularly:
   •Picks up as she goes through her morning routine
   •Has a “home” designated for all items
   •Puts all items away after using them
   •Cleans out her bathroom toiletries every few months
   •Cleans out her kitchen cupboards every few months
   •Cleans out her clothes closet every few months

4. Plans ahead for physical needs:
   •Gets gas before the tank is empty
   •Plans a weekly menu
   •Plans grocery shopping weekly
   •Buys regularly used items in bulk
   •Has a storage place for every item she purchases in bulk

5. Tackles the mundane chores in small chunks:
   •Checks her communication on a regular basis (voice mail, email, mail)
   •Regularly does a small amount of cleaning and laundry
   •Assigns the children small, quick morning chores

6. Stays aware of upcoming events:
   •Checks her calendar daily and plans accordingly