Successfully juggling a job, a personal life, and a return to college to pursue a degree can seem like a daunting challenge. After all,
- being a lead-by-example team member at your job demands both concentration and enthusiasm,
- giving your friends and family your undivided attention when they’re in your company requires both energy and focus, and
- dedicating the time required to complete weekly assignments for your college courses takes both commitment and determination.
Some adults struggle throughout the balancing act and eventually neglect one or more of the responsibilities. Others seem to be able to excel at their jobs, enjoy their family time, and handle the rigorous demands of academia without missing a beat. How is that possible? The difference between being able to embrace, excel at, and enjoy all three responsibilities vs. feeling constantly stressed-out from trying to keep up with everything all comes down to your morning routine. How you choose to start each day will make all the difference in how skillful you are at balancing your commitments.
Here’s how to master your mornings so you can balance the commitments that make up your days:
1. Before you go to bed, start a pre–morning routine.
No matter how mentally drained or physically tired you are at the end of a busy day, taking the time to do a few pre-morning tasks before your head hits the pillow will help to make your morning more productive and stress-free.
Plan your outfit (and your children’s outfits)
For starters, figure out the night before what you are going to wear the next day. From the shirt, pressed pants, and belt, or the skirt, blouse, and jewelry – find every single item of clothing you plan to wear the next morning and lay it out the night before. You’ll be amazed how awesome it feels not to have to frantically search for the other matching shoe you planned to wear or not to suddenly discover your favorite tie has a wine stain on it.
Further, if you have kids, take a few minutes to either plan their outfits for them as well, or help them to pick out their outfits for the next day. While you are in the zone of being a lead-by-example role model in your children’s lives and teaching them the benefits of being organized and proactive, make sure you’ve gone through all their school papers and flyers in their “take home” folder – signing permission slips, giving them an envelope of money to pay for the books they ordered at the school’s book fair, and/or selecting the event you’re going to volunteer for next month. You’ll feel so stress-free in the morning if you take the time the night before to take care of these important tasks in the evening.
Prepare your snacks
Along with getting the outfits ready before your head hits the pillow, prepare and pack whatever snacks you plan to bring to work in the morning. Having a baggy full of pistachios, some energy bars, water bottles, and a little lunch cooler of fresh fruit ready to whisk out the door in the morning will save you tons of time, money, and frustration later in the day. It will cut down on your visits to the local fast-food joints, stop you from spending so much money on the vending machine’s sugar-filled, empty-calorie snacks, and give you that boost of energy you’ll need to get through the day.
In addition, also pack your kids’ lunches the night before; this will not only save you tons of time in the morning, but also give you the opportunity to write a little note of love or encouragement to each of them to include in their lunches. When you are rushed in the morning looking for some foil to wrap their turkey sandwich, you don’t have time to write those thought-filled notes.
Check your designated spot
Create a place in your home where you keep your car keys, your phone, your purse, and/or your wallet. Get in the habit of always putting these important items you use on a regular basis back to this one designated spot. Double-check the spot the night before to make sure your keys weren’t left in a coat pocket and your wallet isn’t still sitting on the fireplace mantle. This one simple habit will save you tons of time, anxiety, and frustration. No one enjoys that anxiety-inducing feeling of suddenly realizing you don’t know where your vehicle’s keys are when you are just about to head out the door. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t help your kids to create their own designated spot in their home where they’ll always place their backpack, phone, rain gear, and any other items they need to access quickly in the mornings.
2. Set your traditional alarm clock, not your phone’s alarm.
Once you get in the habit of waking up early, you won’t even need an alarm. Until then, use a traditional alarm clock and place it far enough from your bed so that you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off. This will deter the temptation to hit the snooze button if you have the clock on your nightstand. Further, you left your phone in your designated spot the night before, remember? Turn the ringer off, and leave it there. Late-night texts and alerts are unnecessary and interrupt your sleep. Yes, you can exist for 6-8 hours without having to check your phone. If you feel you must have your phone nearby for safety, security, or emergency reasons, then turn it off and stash it away in a nearby drawer so that you don’t hear it buzzing every time someone “likes” something you posted on one of your social media platforms.
3. Eat breakfast.
Whether it’s a vitamin-packed fruit smoothie you make via your Vitamix blender or it’s a bowl of oatmeal and a side of fresh fruit, don’t leave the house on a completely-empty stomach. Coffee, pop, and energy drinks don’t count. To ensure they don’t run out of energy before lunch and can stay focused at school, be sure your children have a healthy breakfast as well.
4. Make your bed.
During his 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin, Navy Seal Admiral William McRaven shared, “To change the world, make your bed!”. While right now you may just be trying to change your world, making your bed before you head out for the day is still excellent advice. While McRaven’s underlying reasoning was that if you can’t do something as simple (and disciplined) as making your bed in the morning, how can you expect to accomplish anything else throughout the day, there’s another reason to make your bed. It will stop you from being tempted to hop back in it for another quick 5-minute snooze! Teaching your children to make their beds as well is a great habit they will carry into their adulthood with them.
5. Stretch. Work out. Move.
While going to the local gym every morning is ideal, it’s not practical when you already have so much on your plate. Instead of just hopping out of your bed and jumping in the shower, take a few moments to do some serious, focused stretches. Your body will thank you. In addition, keeping a few free weights in your room will enable you to do a few sets of upper body strengthening exercises before you shower. You don’t have to implement a 45-minute workout routine every morning to stay fit, strong, and healthy. You simply need to get in the habit of doing some stretches, some sit-ups, some push-ups, and some exercises with free weights to get and stay strong.
Take hold of your mornings, and start the night before.
Allowing unnecessary texts and messages to disrupt your sleep, waiting until the morning to decide what you want to wear, and wasting time looking for your car keys are all ways to stop you from becoming a skilled and satisfied juggler of diverse responsibilities.
Arriving to work late, missing a course assignment’s due date, and hitting the local fast food joint every day will not inspire or energize you to be the absolute best version of yourself right now as you strive to improve yourself even further by achieving your academic goals. Plus, if you’re a parent, there is no better way to influence and inspire your children than by making the great life choices yourself that you always encourage your children to make.
From 8 Reasons to Go Back to College as an Adult to How to Choose an Online Degree Program to Tips to Balance Work, Family, and Going Back to School, Averett University Graduate & Professional Studies is here to help you succeed in both your professional life and your academic life (which, when combined, will help to make your personal life everything you had hoped and dreamed).
Next, we’ll cover “Tips to Nail a Job Interview”. Until next time, read 9 Habits of Highly-Organized People or explore our online degree programs ~ all specifically designed for the busy lifestyles of adults.