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 ChecklistIn 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.