If you go on YouTube and type "morning routines," you are bombarded with picture perfect routines: students getting up at 5:00am, working out until 6:00am, drinking coffee (or a protein shake) on their window seats to watch the sunrise and catching up on their pleasure reading of the month; all well before 7:00am. These are all great activities to start the day off with, but for most Dartmouth students, or any college student for that matter, this is far from reality.
Because the morning sets a tone for the rest of the day, it is crucial to make sure we spend those moments after waking up doing what matters the most if we want to have a productive day, but we just seem to never have the time or the motivation to do so. Perhaps this is because for most students the day "begins" as soon as they wake up. I know, I know; when else can the day begin? Well, the night before!
The simplest task like packing your bag at night in preparation for the next day not only helps put your mind at ease, but it saves you a lot of time in the morning when you are rushing to drill or starting your work shift at 8:00am. Whatever your schedule looks like, putting together all your notebooks and gadgets that you need for the next day is the first step to a productive day. Chances are if you pack your bag at night, you are not going to forget something important in the craziness and grogginess of the morning.
Now that you have your bag packed, notice that you had to think about your day in its entirety to make sure you packed all that you needed to. Why not take a minute or five to carefully look at your schedule for the next day? You could pull up your calendar, or your planner to make sure you have no surprises in the morning. Maybe take it a step further and actually write out all your tasks for the next day, but that's a topic for another blog post. The point of these small acts is not to mimic the picture perfect routines we saw earlier. It does not take that long to glance at your schedule but the pay off in the long run is a great one.
Although it is recommended that students do their work outside of their dorm rooms, sometimes your room is your only sanctuary and that is okay. After an intense evening of studying it is very tempting to just close your textbooks and jump into bed right away but I propose a different strategy. As soon as you finish studying, try to tidy up your space as much as possible; putting away all the notebooks, packing your bag at the same time if necessary, just so at the end you have a presentable work-space.
Take the before and after picture for example; the after is by no means Instagram worthy, but it does the job. The point is not to have a squeaky clean area with every single element properly positioned, no; this is so that when you have to study the next day you at least feel good by studying on a tidy desk! A clean working space truly is one of life's greatest pleasure.
So now you're almost ready to go to bed and catch some z's, almost. A number of students might feel that this last suggestion does not apply to them but I think we could all stand to benefit from it. In a 2016 poll conducted by Marks & Spencer's, a retail company based in London, they found that men will, on average, spend 13 minutes each day trying to pick what to wear while women spend 17 minutes 1. Granted these numbers will be a little skewed when talking about college students but the conclusion is still the same: we all spend quite a bit of time in the morning agonizing about what to wear.
Sometimes, as with packing your bag, it even requires you to stop and think about the plans you have for the whole day to make sure you dress accordingly. Whatever the case may be, picking out your clothes in the morning can be a chore; which is why it is not a bad idea, you already guessed it, to lay them out the night before. As you are looking at the your schedule for the next day, and maybe glancing at the weather, pick out your clothes then and be done with it. This means in the morning, you do not have the stress of trying to find something adequate to wear with no time to spare.
In the end, the goal is to have a decent morning, college is hard enough on its own, the least you can do is start off your day on the right note. Maybe in time you might end up with one of those amazing morning routines but even if you do not, that is just fine because that was never the objective. Also remember that all of the suggestions mentioned here are merely that, suggestions. You do not have to adopt all of them at once, start with one, and if none of them work for you, that is great, you move on to something else that might; as long you begin the day with what feels right to you.