Get your mornings under control with these smart morning routine ideas.

By Amanda Lauren
Updated September 13, 2019
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The a.m. struggle is real. Whether you need to fit in a morning workout, look put together for a corporate job, drag kids through a morning routine for school, or simply fit a whole getting-ready routine into 30 minutes, getting out the door (on-time, no less) in the morning is a challenge for everyone. After all, there’s a lot to do in a finite period of time. If hectic mornings start your days off on a sour note, check out these life-changing morning routine ideas—those early hours might just become your favorite of the day.

The first step to a better morning routine is to evaluate what’s really important, prepare as much as possible the night before, and cut out any extra steps for a more minimal morning schedule. Ultimately, creating a truly functional morning routine will make the rest of the day more positive and productive and less chaotic.

Keep in mind that sticking to your morning routine is just as important as planning one out. While a scheduled morning might feel more stressful in the beginning, once you learn to implement these strategies, you’ll wonder how you ever started your day without them. (Next step: Once you get your morning routine down, try incorporating positive self-care activities such as morning stretches to make those early hours even better.)

Life-changing morning routine ideas

1. Drink water as soon as you wake up

Keep a bottle of water next to your bed and drink it down before your feet hit the floor. Everyone is dehydrated when they wake up; replenishing fluids will give you instant energy and improve your overall health, wellness, and focus. You will also feel good knowing that you started your day with an act of self-care.

2. Don’t waste time

Sitting in bed checking your email, social media, and the news is a time-suck. Wait until breakfast to check your phone and multi-task. No one expects a response before business hours unless there is a true emergency. If you can’t resist looking, consider switching to a standard alarm clock instead of using your phone.

3. Choose your outfit the night before

Mom was right: Picking out your clothes the night before is an easy way to simplify your morning routine. Go all the way with it—lay out everything you intend on wearing, from undergarments to accessories and outerwear. Stockpiling nude bras and underwear that go with every outfit can help simplify the process even more.

4. Prep your meals in advance

Making your lunch the night before to bring to work the next day can be a time-saver in the morning, but prepping your breakfast too is next-level. Consider easy meals you can make in bulk, such as overnight oats or a homemade frittata that’s easy to reheat (store each portion in a microwave-safe container). You can even bake some healthy protein muffins. Anything you can eat without prepping or that you can quickly reheat will save you cooking and clean-up time.

If you prefer healthy breakfast smoothie, prepare all of the ingredients in the blender the night before, leave it in the fridge, and throw in some ice before blending when you wake up. If you aren’t a fan of meal prep, protein waffles, such as Off The Grid Frozen Waffles ($5 for six; target.com), can heat up in the toaster while you get ready.

5. Make coffee speedy

Get a coffee pot with a timer and set it the evening before or pre-load single-serving pods. Bottled or pre-made cold brew is an even faster option.

6. Sort your medications and supplements

If you take multiple supplements or medications, trying to sort them in the morning and making sure you don’t forget anything, especially if you’re tired, can add minutes and stress to your routine. The solution is simple: Buy a pill sorter ($8; amazon.com) or use a pharmacy that presorts your medications and supplements into individual packets, such as PillPack.

7. Use a timer in the shower

Your morning shower can feel ultra-refreshing, but you are limited on luxuriating time. If you tend to take too long under the water, set a timer on your phone loud enough that you can hear it over the shower (and your singing). There’s nothing like an irritating sound to get you moving. Be sure to pick an alarm you won’t enjoy hearing such as sirens, ducks, or the ever-infectious Baby Shark. (This alarm trick can also help pace you through every part of your morning routine.)

8. Use fewer products

Save a few minutes by using multi-tasking products in the shower. Avoid bar soap, which can take a few minutes to lather and use a shower oil such as Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil ($20; dermstore.com) instead. This product replaces your shower gel, shaving cream, and even post-shower body moisturizer.

Next, opt for serums that do double duty, such as Genetix Glow Brightening Serum ($34; walmart.com). Entirely non-toxic, it contains moisturizing ingredients and hyaluronic acid, pulling one product out of your morning skincare routine.

9. Keep your makeup organized

Morning isn’t the time to experiment with makeup. Having a go-to look for work helps keep things simple. Keep all your cosmetics for this look in one container or makeup case, and limit eye makeup to one palette, so you don’t have to spend time looking for multiple colors. Leave your lipstick, gloss, and liner in your purse and apply it on the go.

10. Wash your hair the night before

Washing your hair in the morning can be a process for many people, so if you can skip this step, you should. If you must wash your hair in the morning, Revlon’s One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush ($52; amazon.com) dries and styles at the same time. You may not even need a flatiron once you get the hang of this very helpful tool.

11. Keep your keys in one place

Nothing creates morning chaos quite like a set of missing keys. Install a hook or basket by the door and make sure you hang your house and car keys there every time you enter.

12. Prepare for minor emergencies

A minor emergency can become a major time suck, so make sure you have everything you need on hand. For example, if you have a tendency to cut yourself shaving, make sure you always have Band-Aids within easy reach.

The morning is also prime time for wardrobe malfunctions. The Hollywood Fashion Tape Fashion Emergency Kit 14 Piece Kit ($11; amazon.com) can fix most of these snafus with lint remover, safety pins, double-sided tape, adhesive buttons, and more. Keep a stain removing pen, makeup remover, nail clippers, and more in an easy-to-access place too, so a hangnail or coffee splash won’t keep you from getting to work on time.