We often have the best intentions at the start of the day, which can get derailed quickly from one too many ‘snooze’ buttons, lost keys, or feeling rushed and unprepared. But with these five simple steps, you can really begin your day on the right foot...

Unless you’re lucky enough to be a natural morning person, leaving your comfy bed to face the hectic first hour of the day can be a struggle. Keen to get those last few minutes of sleep, or catching up with our social media scrolling, we’re often left in a rush, pulling up a pair of trousers with one hand and scrambling for car keys with the other. This stress is not the best way to set yourself up for a happy and productive day, so here are some simple ways to restore calm and order to your mornings.

1. Create a realistic routine

Research suggests adults aren’t at their cognitive best until late morning, so establishing a routine helps you to navigate the earliest part of the day when your brain is still warming up. List everything you want to get done, and decide on the most logical order. Running through this routine every morning means you’re much less likely to waste time or forget something.

The start of the day is often treated as a stepping stone, but it can be really valuable if used wisely

Life coach Katie Driver highlights the importance of finding a routine that suits you: “Just because someone else might be getting up at 5:30 to go to the gym doesn’t mean it’s right for you. “If you plan a routine that’s not remotely realistic, it’s only going to make you feel like a failure every day you don’t achieve it.”

2. Give yourself time

If you always find yourself rushing, reduce your stress by simply waking up earlier. Leave the curtains open a little or invest in a sunrise alarm clock to wake you gradually so you’re less likely to turn over and go back to sleep. Allow yourself more time than you think you need – that way lost shoes and uncooperative hair won't throw you off schedule. On days with no unexpected hold-ups you’ll have bonus time for enjoyable activities such as reading or sharing your breakfast with family.

Katie says: “I thought the arguments I often had with the kids about getting ready were the source of my stress, until I realised that I was actually trying to cram too much into too little time in the morning, and taking my frustration out on them. I found getting up just 15 minutes earlier meant I had a little more breathing space, and the arguments almost completely disappeared.”

3. Plan ahead

How many times have you forgotten something important in the morning, or scrapped your pre-work plans in favour of the snooze button? Do your sleepy self a favour and get everything ready for the morning before you go to bed.

“Check tomorrow’s diary and weather forecast, and get out what you’ll wear, then you won’t waste time standing in front of the wardrobe in the morning agonising about what to put on,” Katie recommends.

planner and pen on desk

“Putting some comfy yoga clothes or running kit out the night before will help remind you to exercise when you wake, and make it easier to do so. A glass on the counter reminds us to drink water to start the day. It also helps to have a particular place where your keys and purse always go, so you’re not trying to find them every morning. Reminders by the door are a great idea too.”

4. Take little steps

Drastically changing your morning routine can be a shock to the system. Work towards your ideal morning in stages, gradually cutting out the bad habits and introducing good ones, and you’re more likely to stick with them. Make a note of your steps for the week – for example, cutting down from two morning coffees to one, and sitting down for breakfast rather than eating on the go – and put them somewhere you’ll notice immediately.

“Once you’ve started making changes, you’ll probably spot opportunities for other improvements,” Katie says. “Try setting yourself challenges – how many mornings in a row can you do some stretching, or stay off the phone until a particular time?”

5. Reclaim the morning

The start of the day is often treated as a stepping stone to the main part of the day, but it can be really valuable if used wisely. Take a few moments for yourself, reflecting on your goals and the reasons behind them, and doing whatever you need to do to get your day off to a good start.

Katie says: “It’s worth working towards habits in three key areas: moving more, making sure the first meal of the day is a healthy one, and strengthening your connection with what’s meaningful in your life. None of these need to take long, but they will set up your mind, body and spirit for a great day. You could also try thinking about how you want to be in the morning, not only what you want to do. Setting your intentions and some realistic expectations can help you get through the inevitable hiccups in a better frame of mind.”