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Self Management

Good Mornings

How do you start your day? Is it a rush from the moment the alarm rings? If you have children and a spouse or partner, is it a mini-Olympic competition to get everybody out the door and onto buses, planes and trains on time? Some people rise, have a leisurely cup of tea, exercise, read the mail and then are primed to face the day. Which are you? To get your day off to a calm start, do some early planning.

The Night Before

Evenings are generally less pressured than mornings. Gather items that need to be taken to work or school and put them in the same place ready for the morning. Make lunches, fill bottles and lay out clothes the evening before. (Folding and storing outfits together is a real time saver.) Go through papers from school or child care and review permission slips, assignments and party invitations.

Decide on responsibilities for you and your partner and switch off on tasks either weekly or monthly. One might dress the children while the other makes breakfast. Which person handles which items should be decided upon during a calm time and then a routine established. This is easily determined by who has the most patience early in the morning.

Plan your breakfasts the night before and do any preparation work then. This will prevent that blank stare into the open refrigerator door. Iron any clothing that requires it and check the family calendar so that the little league game or the delivery to a neighbor does not catch you unaware. Think about the next night's dinner so any items can be picked up during the day or on the way home. Let your children help as much as possible. Older children can make their own lunches as well as do some chores around the house.

In the Morning

Give yourself an extra ten or fifteen minutes of unscheduled time. It is a mystery, but occasionally the daily routine of taking a shower, brushing your teeth and dressing will take longer for no discernible reason. Unless you are expecting an important call, when the phone rings do not bother to answer it. You are already on a tight deadline and the last thing you need is a sales call. Never forget, the phone is there for your convenience not for the convenience of the caller. Similarly, if you run into your nosy neighbor, tell him/her you will have to catch up on the latest news at another time. A neighbor who works different hours and is returning home at the end of their day and the beginning of yours, is chatty at the worst possible time for you.

Staying on Target

One common trap that can make you late is doing that "one last thing" before walking out the door. Resist this urge. If you have to leave by 7:15, that means you are walking out the door at 7:15. This does not mean hooking up the dishwasher, trying to find the keys or writing a quick note. All of those things that will "only take a second" actually consume minutes and make you late. A special danger if you have children or a childlike adult, is turning on the television. It takes real discipline to turn it off precisely when you need to. A clock in the bathroom can also be helpful.


One creative thing to do with extra time is to reward your children. If you take your children to school or daycare, when they get out of the house having collected their own materials on time they get to choose a special thing to do. That might be a quick detour to the park for five minutes on the jungle gym, being read a story before leaving or getting to choose the station on the radio. For older children, if they are ready Monday-Thursday on time for school, on Friday they get to go to the local cafe for a quick breakfast before school. Once a week give kids lunch money. The break in routine can be fun for them and a rest for you.

Odette Pollar is a nationally known speaker, author, and consultant. President of the management consulting firm, Smart Ways to Work based in Oakland, CA, her most recent book is Surviving Information Overload. Email to share your comments, questions and suggestions: odette@SmartWaysToWork.com. Visit us at: www.smartwaystowork.com call: 1-800-599-8463.

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