It's 7:45AM. Do You Know Where Your Cell Phone Is?

Last Updated Jun 5, 2011 5:38 PM EDT

A few weeks ago, I wrote about that great time gap many of us experience between waking up and walking out the door. I also wrote about how productive people seize those hours. As I've been looking over the time logs readers sent me after that post, I see that one major obstacle to using morning time better is getting everything packed up for the day. If you spend 15 minutes finding your cell phone and building security pass, you can be awake in plenty of time and still wind up late (again).
Given that most of us have to walk out the door by a certain point 5 days a week, you'd think we'd be better about getting our things together. Yet this is always a challenge. In my house, it's children's shoes that seem to go missing, necessitating all sorts of last minute hunting. In trying to figure out how to get out the door faster, I've picked up a few tips from professional organizers over the years:

1. Make a launching pad. Keep cell phones and chargers by the door, along with a basket for keys, wallets, security passes or anything else you need daily. Purses and kids' backpacks can go on a hook nearby (with homework stashed there after it's finished), with shoes lined up in cubbies or on the floor. When you walk in the door, this is where things go, and where they will be when it's time to leave again.

2. Own fewer clothes. Pare down your wardrobe into 2 weeks or so of outfits that you know make you look great. Weed your children's clothes down too. Set out the next outfit in the rotation the night before and save major time deciding what to wear in the AM.

3. Never switch purses or laptop bags. So your bag clashes with what you're wearing. Yes, you may feel a little awkward, but you'll feel more awkward when you can't find anything, and emptying one bag into another eats up morning minutes.

4. Don't belabor lunch. Some parents' time logs feature long stretches of lunch-making in the mornings. But you don't have to be solely responsible for this. School lunch can work (even just twice a week if you don't want to use it all the time). Children in elementary school can start making their own lunches with help, and if you are running the show, think assembly line with basic building blocks: bags of pre-cut apples, string cheese, boxes of raisins, fruit cups, granola bars, and anything else that won't require you to run a deli counter all morning.

How have you streamlined your routine for getting out the door?

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Photo courtesy flickr user, daryl_mitchell

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