Wrap your freshly washed hair in a towel (preferably a super-absorbent one, like the Aquis Microfiber Hair Towel, $19, at amazon.com) and let it partly dry naturally while you go about getting dressed and having a quick breakfast. Not only will this cut drying time but it will also give your steamy bathroom time to clear out. Humidity is the enemy of a quick—and smooth—blow-out: Imagine drying your hair in a steam room.
A fast blow dry starts with effective tools: the right dryer, plus a big round brush for straight hair (bigger brushes also cut drying time) and a diffuser for curly hair. For easy-to-follow blow-drying directions specific to your hair, either straight or curly, see 3 Easy Steps to a Perfect Home Blow-Dry.
Time saved: 50 minutes each week.
2 of 5Mark Platt
Cut Nonessential Beauty Items From Your Routine
First tip: You don’t need to use a toner. Ever. Toners help moisturizer seep into your skin, but leaving a little water on your face after washing facilitates absorption equally well. Also, skip the eye cream. These treatments are wonderful to use at night, when skin is repairing itself (and when there’s no sunlight around to break down the eye cream’s active ingredients). But it’s smarter and quicker to just use your face lotion around your eyes during the day. Better yet, apply one with SPF to save more time by avoiding that additional sunscreen step (see The Best Face Moisturizers with SPF.)
Time saved: 15 minutes each week.
3 of 5 Hallie Burton
Do Your Makeup Faster
Ditch exacting and unforgiving makeup and use multitaskers. Liquid liner, for example, looks fabulous when it’s carefully applied, but unless you have the steady, practiced hand of a pro, skip liners and other tricky cosmetics in the A.M. (Note: If you ignore this advice, a pointy cotton swab doused in makeup remover is a huge time-saver when touching up a mistake.)
Instead, rely on stick formulas and other cosmetics that multitask (The Best Multipurpose Beauty Products runs down Real Simple’s current favorites). Stick foundations act as both concealer and foundation, thanks to their thick consistency: Just swipe one over a flaw and blend with fingers. Then use a dual cheek-and-lip tint to add quick color. And to give eyes liquid liner–like definition without the fuss, gently wiggle a mascara wand at the base of your lashes to deposit a subtle line.
Time saved: 25 minutes each week.
4 of 5Formula Z/S
Make a No-Brainer Breakfast
A no-brainer breakfast does not mean skipping breakfast! Breakfast is absolutely the most important meal of the day. It fuels your body with energy and nutrients; and studies have shown that eating breakfast is essential to losing weight—and keeping it off—since people who skip breakfast tend to overeat later in the day (see Busting 10 Diet Myths for more surprising, smart eating tips).
Lack of time usually stops people from eating in the morning. So here’s a quick, no-excuse strategy: Every Sunday buy five individual containers of plain Greek yogurt, a great source of protein and calcium. Scoop 1/3 cup of low-fat, high-fiber cereal into five snack-size plastic bags. Toss a yogurt and a bag of cereal into your bag each morning, then combine the two and enjoy them at work. When you crave a little sweetness, add fresh fruit or drizzle on a bit of Agave Nectar Syrup, which you can store in your desk drawer. (Find more nutritious eat-on-the-go meals in 9 Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas.)
Time saved: 50 minutes each week.
5 of 5 Chris Shipman
Work Out Faster
Good news: There are ways to exercise in less time. First, studies indicate that you don’t need to stretch before exercising. Instead, just do a light warm-up—a few minutes of jogging before a run or five minutes of cardio before weight training. Second, you can get a quick, full-body workout without even leaving home. Try to do 15 repetitions each of crunches, push-ups, triceps dips (off a stable chair), squats, and lunges. Do each rep in a slow and controlled manner (count three seconds on the way up for a crunch and three seconds on the way down), and do three sets of each move. This will help strengthen your biggest muscles, including your abdominals, back, arms, and legs. See 15 Minutes and You're Done: Workouts for efficient exercise routines for your abs, glutes, thighs, and more.