You open your eyes, stretch a couple of times, and lie in bed a few moments, lazily contemplating the day: the conference call at 9:15 a.m. and the meeting with Ms. Jamison in accounting at 10 a.m., followed by the Zoom session with the Atlanta office.
And then you look at the bedside clock.
You glance at your watch to confirm the time, and the next moment you’re kicking free of the sheets and covers. You stumble around the bedroom looking for clothes; decide instantly to forego the morning shower—you can use the electric razor to shave on the drive to work—skip the leisurely morning cup of coffee; throw papers, your laptop, and an orange into your satchel; run a comb through your hair and a toothbrush around your mouth; and dash toward the car before you remember leaving the keys on your desk in the den.
Most of us have experienced—suffered might be the better word—mornings like this one. We forget to set the alarm or that we have an appointment, and the next thing we know, we’re pinging around from wall to wall, blood pressure skyrocketing and lungs out of breath before the day has scarcely begun.
So here are some tips I—and others—have learned the hard way about preparing for tomorrow.
Get all of your stuff ready to go before you hit the sheets. Pack what you’re going to need in your briefcase or backpack, along with all of your necessities, such as pens or your computer, and have them ready to go.
The same holds true for your kids. Have them gather everything for the morning sprint: books, notebooks, and other accoutrements. Quiz them before bedtime: “So all of your homework and tests are by the front door?”
Ditto on lunches. If possible, prepare school lunches as well as your own in the evening.
The same rule holds for clothing. Lay out—or at least know—what you intend to wear in the morning. If you have small children, this step is vital. What parent ready to dart out of the house hasn’t been brought to a grinding halt by a 4-year-old who can only find one shoe?
Long ago, a lieutenant in the Navy SEALs told me that he could get his men on board an aircraft bound from San Diego to the Philippines faster than he could get his two young daughters into the car to go to church. We both laughed—I felt the same about my kids—but I realize now that the difference was preparation.
Load up the coffee machine before going to bed so that when you wake up all you have to do is hit the button, and two minutes later you’re sipping the magical elixir.
Get up 15 minutes early to recollect yourself, meditate on your obligations, and find a few moments of peace in silence. This one step can make or break the rest of the day.
Know what you’re preparing for breakfast and plan accordingly.
Double-check everything before leaving the house to make sure you have what you need. I’ve reached the age where I tap each item in my pockets—billfold, phone, keys, and so on—before I head out the door. That step may seem extreme, but you don’t want to get to work and suddenly discover that you’ve left your glasses at home.
Preparation is key. In Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” the king said, “All things are ready, if our minds be so.” That’s true to an extent, but it also helps if the lunches are packed, the necessities for the day are ready to be toted to the car, and we ourselves have had sufficient time for a shower and a shave.
Oh, yes—remember to set the alarm clock.
Two of them, if necessary.