Years ago, I read on Zen Habits (and similar blogs) about the benefits of having solid morning and evening routines. I have posted before about this years ago; simple things like packing my lunch and my gym bag, laying out clothes, keys, sneakers, prepping coffee and breakfast etc. Basically, simple steps designed to make my life run smoothly (or as smoothly as it can run before Boston traffic). Mornings can be tough to swallow when I am rushing around, frantic that I am going to forget something.

Picture a morning where breakfast is already prepped, coffee is waiting, and no one is fighting over clothes and shoes because everything was laid out the night before. Your bag is packed for work, keys are on top of the magazine that came in the mail (because you sorted the mail after work yesterday). Lunches for the family are waiting in the fridge. You’ve already done a load of laundry, so you don’t have that waiting, and possibly dinner is cooking in the Crockpot. It’s almost annoying to read how lovely that sounds, because essentially, you’ve just wiped out all your morning stress.

All the experts agree (truly, this is scientifically proven – as if Real Simple magazine wasn’t enough proof) that a organized morning (and evening) routine is a stress reliever.

There is one catch – just one – to making this happen. You have to actually do it. You may have to get up a solid 30 minutes earlier (maybe not – see what you can get done the night before), but you just have to do it. It takes 30 days to develop a habit; however, I bet you’re sold within 5 working days.

Over the past few years I have streamlined my morning routine, and made some necessary changes (for significant other’s schedules, work, family events, travel – things come up, right?). And when I am training for a marathon, sure, I have to tweak some, but the overall routine, that stays the same (I’m just up earlier!). I am going to share with you my routine and tricks to encourage you to create your own.

The first trick to have an awesome evening routine. You can read more about mine here. Basically my evening routine ensures that I have a gym bag packed, my lunch made, clothes laid out and anything extra I need for the day is ready to go by the back door.

When I wake up, I immediately feed the dog and let him outside. Next I press start on prepped coffee maker, start a load of laundry (if necessary), and make the bed.

Coffee’s ready.

On gym days, my coffee is to-go. I throw on a jacket and head to the gym, grabbing my pre-packed bags by the door, flipping on the Crockpot if I have dinner prepped. (Ha, and I let the dog come inside!)

On rest days, I get dressed, eat a snack and grab the dog for a walk.  When I get back, I shower, put the now clean clothes in the dryer, and get ready for work. Because I have already snacked, I take a pre-made breakfast to work (I’m more hungry later in the morning – is that just me?). Same deal with the Crockpot and often I have enough time to flip through a magazine.

I would venture that I need no more than 45 minutes to get this done (but again, I don’t have children). And I am set for the day. Often, I have enough time to stop at the store or dry cleaners before work to finish errands before I even start work. This means that immediately after work I can head home and relax.

What simplifying tools and tips do you use to make your mornings run smoothly?