I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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clock

This is a nifty one, simple to implement and, in my experience, surprisingly effective.

Set your watch to beep every night at 10 o’clock.

When your watch goes off, get up that instant and prepare for morning. Whether you’re in the middle of watching a DVD, rushing to meet a work deadline, reading that one last blog entry, etc., get up and get rolling.

Your Morning Prep Checklist

In addition to brushing up, walking the dog, and otherwise getting ready for bed as usual, do as many morning tasks as you can ahead of time:
  • Plan breakfast and make sure the fridge is stocked (if necessary, run out to the grocery store to stock up on milk, eggs, etc.)
  • Grind your beans and set your coffeemaker to go off
  • Lay out your outfit and the contents of your pockets (make sure you have cash and change in your wallet)
  • Pack your bag for work with any necessary files, gadgets, etc.
  • Charge your cellphone and laptop
  • Set your alarm
  • Set out your workout clothes and sneakers if you’re going to the gym
  • Check your calendar for any key events early in the day you should be expecting

Once you’ve figured out which tasks can be done, write them down on an index card and keep it handy. Leave only those tasks that can’t be done the night before, like getting dressed”although I guess some hardcore productivity folks might sleep in their clothes to get a faster start to their day…

Organize Your Space

I inherited a lovely little stand for hanging out your outfit, wallet, and keys for the next day from my grandfather. It’s old, but they have new ones at places like the Container Store. Whatever furniture or other tools you use to lay things out, everything you need in the morning should be within arm’s reach, prepped and ready to go.

This 10 o’clock routine might take anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. Once you’re done, go back to finishing your movie, working on your project, etc., secure in the knowledge that you can roll into bed when you’re ready without a moment’s thought.

Reap the Benefits

There are two main benefits to the 10 O’Clock rule. First, you’re much more likely to take care of those end-of-night chores that sometimes get skipped, from washing the dishes to flossing, because you’re tackling them before you’ve completely run out of steam.

Second, you’ll be much more likely to wake up on time, and have a pleasant morning, if you know that all the nasty morning chores are taken care of and everything’s in order: your slippers are by the bed, the place is tidy, coffee’s brewing, breakfast is a few steps from ready, and so on.

I’ve found the little 10 o’clock beep to be all it takes to get me out of my chair. By 10 pm, my evening activities and socializing are almost always over, but I have yet to begin nodding off. Your optimal time might be a little different, but try to set your watch for a consistent time that falls after your main evening activity but before drowsiness sets in.

Photo by jmv.

32 Comments

  • priya

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    7:00 am

    Love it! I’m going to start it tonight. I really like the idea so that I don’t wait til “right before bed”.

    It will be a challenge to put the pause button on the TV, but it will be worth it!

  • Spencer

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    7:10 am

    I have to grind my coffee in the morning. I’m too picky about the flavor to let it age overnight.

    Otherwise, this sounds like a good routine to get into. I’d have to do it a bit later, as I’m often still out of the house at 10. (Often seems too strong. What is a word that means “2-3 out of 7″?)

  • betsy

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    8:04 am

    HA. My husband had this rule preprogrammed into his brain. He cannot get into bed until he has ‘gotten ready for tomorrow.’

  • Mike St. Pierre

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    8:32 am

    David, this is a great post. I try to put 9:30-10:30 as my transition time to get things set for the following day.

  • alexis

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    8:43 am

    I love this concept of batching together all the tasks needed for the next day, into one habitual routine. I tend to ad-hoc my way through preparation, which takes a long time and invariably I forget something. Thanks!!

  • Dan

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    9:41 am

    Spencer: I would say the word you’re looking for is “frequently”.

  • Joshua Gruber

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    5:27 pm

    An interesting idea for night-owls. For people who are at their best first thing in the morning, though, it might be counterproductive. (10:00 is after bedtime for me, for instance.)

  • Liz

    gravatarFeb 27, 2008
    10:00 pm

    great post! my morning lifesaver is having a coffee pot with a timer. It’s one less thing to worry about when im stumbling around half awake and its a lot easier getting up with the aroma of coffee in the air!

  • TesTeq

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    1:05 am

    At 10 pm I am already sleeping. May I do it at 9 pm, please?

  • Ben

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    4:09 am

    Of course – brushing your teeth now also helps stop any late night snacking you might be tempted by as well. It helps me because I am weak and easily tempted :)

  • Guy

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    4:34 am

    Hmmm, I really like this idea, but I suppose this rule is meant for the working lifeclever readers. As a college student, 10pm is when my social life starts getting anywhere :). Doing it later wouldn’t work due to alcohol intake, so I suppose earlier would be good. I’ll give it a go.

  • David Moldawer

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    4:47 am

    Yes, 9pm (or whatever time fits the parameters) is fine. The idea is to find a sweet spot when you’re a) still awake but b) done with your social business for the night (or morning, for you college students)

  • chuawa

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    5:04 am

    Yes, I love this simple idea. I often have a habit of waiting till the morning to iron my working shirt. I had better start doing this routine to get it done the night before. Cheers

  • Kelly @ Small Business Guru

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    5:19 am

    Good stuff. I actually have a Morning Checklist — only I run it in the ummmm….morning. Of course that checklist is really about preparing myself mentally for the day ahead.

    What I like about this is it would greatly increase the chances that i’d actually hop on a treadmill first thing if I had all my junk collected beforehand. Kind of a ‘blinding glimpse of the obvious’ — something i certainly make a note to try tonight.

    thanks

  • Joseph

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    5:40 am

    Where do you find the

    lovely little stand for hanging out your outfit, wallet, and keys for the next day from my grandfather. It’s old, but they have new ones at places like the Container Store.

    Couldn’t find CS website

  • Russell

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    5:50 am

    Quote from article:

    “I inherited a lovely little stand for hanging out your outfit, wallet, and keys for the next day from my grandfather. It’s old, but they have new ones at places like the Container Store.”

    What exactly is this stand? I think I know what you are talking about and I would love to check one out to see if it would work for me. Any got a link to one?

    I’m scouring the Container Store website now…

  • Russell

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    6:09 am

    I think it is called a Valet Stand. Found one on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winsome-92055-Espresso-Beechwood-MIRROR/dp/B000FHDCKI/ref=sr17?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1204207510&sr=1-7

  • David Moldawer

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    11:26 am

    The suit rack isn’t online at the container store, but it is in my location. It’s sometimes called a valet suit stand.

    http://www.stacksandstacks.com/html/20171_clothing-butler.htm

    http://valetstand.com/mens-valet-stand.html?gclid=CJizzq3O55ECFQSAHgodxlouaQ

  • Peter

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    11:47 am

    My wife and I do something like this, but at 8:00pm right after the kids go to bed and before we start reading, surfing, opening that netflix envelope… It helps to do it earlier because we go to bed a different times. This way I’m not banging around getting ready when my wife is trying to sleep.

  • Bron

    gravatarFeb 28, 2008
    5:35 pm

    This is pretty ironic, but I actually started doing this two days before you published this article! And already I am finding it invaluable. I find that if I do everything the night before, not only am I getting ready more quickly in the mornings, but I’m also able to get to sleep quicker, knowing that I don’t have to remember to do half a million things when I get up!!

  • Duncan

    gravatarMar 1, 2008
    12:34 pm

    Can’t you just do it when you get in and then its all ready and then you can get on with your evening without interruption? Is what I do.

  • João Carvalhinho

    gravatarMar 3, 2008
    6:07 am

    I had a friend that slept in his morning clothes… bu he did it to have more time to sleep… Does that count as pre+arranging for the morning?

  • Christian

    gravatarMar 3, 2008
    5:27 pm

    So nice, im a mess so often in the mornings im in a rush packing cellphones, chargers, gadgets, books and all my stuff and sometimes y forget something, i’ll give a shot tonight :)

  • Christian Bech

    gravatarMar 7, 2008
    1:48 am

    Great advice bur grinding beans hours before use should be illegal.

  • CharlesP

    gravatarMar 9, 2008
    5:17 am

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve done this in the past, and found it helpful, but had gotten out of the habit. Of course I have to chime in that grinding your beans the night before takes away a large portion of the grinding your own beans benefits (though I’ve done it in the past when I knew it would wake somebody else up in the wee hours of the morning when I was getting dressed… I just didn’t LIKE to do it).

  • João Carvalhinho

    gravatarMar 10, 2008
    6:12 am

    Nespresso anyone? You don’t even have to clean the machine!

  • Christian Bech

    gravatarMar 10, 2008
    6:42 am

    That’s right but it still doesn’t solve the problem of getting coffee :-)

  • prajakta

    gravatarMar 12, 2008
    4:52 am

    its superb i am gonna inspire others who mess up their mornings and implement it my self as well

  • courtney

    gravatarMar 13, 2008
    9:40 am

    what happens when your out of the house at 10p? any suggestions there?

  • David Moldawer

    gravatarMar 13, 2008
    11:02 am

    courtney–do your tasks as soon as you get home and before you sit down. that works for me.

  • K

    gravatarMay 19, 2010
    8:34 pm

    Coffee machine on a timer with a built-in grinder. They exist, folks! (Trust me, I understand the concern, otherwise!)

  • Rabah Rahil

    gravatarMay 22, 2010
    7:42 am

    This is a great idea, can’t wait to try it. During the most productive period of my life I subconsciously did this. Now I just have to make an effort and start again and turn it into a habit. Great post!