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Leaving on time

If you frequently run out of time getting ready in the morning, use these tips to help you manage time better. If waking up late is a major reason why you often run out of time, try starting with our resources for improving your sleep and waking up on time.

Motivate yourself to get out of bed

Some students find it very difficult to motivate themselves to get out of bed. If this interferes with your ability to leave on time, there are a few strategies you can try.

When you try to motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning, you may automatically think of everything you need to get done in the day. Ironically, this may actually make it harder to get out of bed, particularly if you’re already feeling down, overwhelmed, or unmotivated. Often, it’s more effective to practice focusing on your immediate tasks.

Visualize successfully getting out of bed

Take a moment to visualize yourself taking action. Imagine in as much detail as possible moving your body into a position to get out of bed and then successfully getting up. Include any aspect of getting up that is unpleasant (ie. cold air, feeling tired or groggy, etc.) and imagine being able to tolerate it and move past it.

Break actions down until you can achieve them

Try this simple trick:

  1. Break down the first step in getting ready to do the smallest achievable task. If you’re still lying in bed, that could mean getting out of bed but, if that’s too hard, then you could try sitting up. If sitting up is too hard, then aim for pulling your covers back. It doesn’t matter how small the task is. What matters is that you’re able to complete it.
  2. Once you’ve completed it, take a moment to notice that you achieved your goal. DO NOT skip this step. It is very important.
  3. Then repeat the process with the next step. As much as possible, avoid thinking about everything you need to do during the day and focus on what you need to do in the next five minutes.

Practice being your own cheerleader

It is hard to sustain motivation in the face of criticism. If you notice yourself having thoughts like “this shouldn’t be this hard” or “I’m a failure,” try balancing them with words of encouragement. And it’s especially important to acknowledge when you accomplish something even if it feels small. Being a cheerleader may feel forced at first if it’s new to you but stick with it and it will feel more natural over time.

Be your own cheerleader with motivating phrases like "this feels hard but I can do it" and "I've already made more progress than I thought I would"

Seek therapy

Consistent or significant trouble getting out of bed may be a sign of depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue. It may also be an indication that you are stressed or overwhelmed. Or it could point to a lack of excitement or engagement with your academic or career path. Talking to a therapist can help you better understand what drives your difficulties and can support you in addressing the underlying issues.

Increase time awareness

If you find that you often run out of time to get everything done before you need to leave, then it may be very helpful to invest in a time timer. A time timer is a visual stopwatch. It is much more effective at creating an internal sense of urgency than looking at a regular clock. Simply set it for the time you have left and place it next to you while you get ready.

You also may want to take a look at additional tips on increasing time awareness.

Make a time map of your morning

This is one of those tools that many students think they don’t need but then find to be one of the most useful. Try it! You have no way of knowing if you are underestimating how long it takes to get to your destination until you’ve timed it. To make a time map, you just need to determine how long it actually takes to complete different parts of your pre-destination routine.  Then you work backward to figure out what time you need to complete those tasks to arrive on time.

Make a time map of your morning. Step 1: Write down each step of your morning routine and determine how long it takes to complete.  For example: 2 min Get out Bed 20 min Shower and dry off 15 min Hair, make-up (if you do it), etc. 5 min Get dressed 10 min Eat breakfast and do dishes 10 min Brush teeth, pack bag, put on shoes, leave 5 min Buffer time (see section below) 10 min Get to Econ 102 (includes time to leave building, walk, enter building and find seat) Step 2: Work backward and create time markers 9:00am Econ 102 starts 8:50am Leave home 8:45am Buffer time 8:40am Brush teeth, pack backpack, etc. 8:30am Breakfast 8:25am Get dressed 8:20am Hair/make up 8:10am Shower 8:05am Wake up

Add in buffer time

life happens...

Time is in high demand when you’re a student. For that reason, you may be tempted to plan for the minimum amount of time you need to do anything. But life happens. Undoubtedly there will be plenty of times when something unexpected happens: you spill coffee on your shirt, your roommate is in the bathroom when you need it, you suddenly remember you haven’t submitted homework that is due within the hour, etc. Building in buffers of 5-10 minutes will help you absorb the unexpected without being late.

Use flowcharts

If executing multi-step processes is hard for you, flow charts can help you remember all the things you need to do to get out the door. It can also help you remember to think about time and make quick decisions about what you have time to complete before you leave (i.e. showering or eating). Here is an example of a morning flowchart. You can make them by hand or on the computer. For the flowchart to work, you may need to complete the step above of making a time map of your morning.

Plan time to get together everything you need for the day

Create a list of general items that you need (water, keys, food, pens, etc.) as well as what you need for each class and activity. Tape it above where you keep your backpack/book bag. At night, look at all the things you have going on the next day and pack everything it all so it’s ready to go in the morning. If you forget to do this at night, you’ll need to plan for a few extra minutes to complete it in the morning. Having a list is essential to making sure that you remember everything. You can use this item sheet or make one of your own.