How to Build Your Daily Routine: The Morning Edition

How to Build Your Daily Routine: The Morning Edition

I have one job in this post – to convince you that creating your daily routine is possible.

Even if habits are not your thing.

Even if you are not a morning person.

Trust me. This is possible.

We’ve all tried to create habits that would make us be more efficient, keep our homes clean and clutter free, and would get us out the door in the morning and into bed at a reasonable time.

Here is the first thing I want you to know: I am the least “routine” person you’ve ever met. My approach to each day was fresh and new (read random and chaotic). So, if I can do this, your daily routine is totally within reach.

The second thing I need you to know:  I have never been a morning person. My mom, when signing me up for kindergarten, told the teacher if I didn’t get into the “Late Birds” group, we would have to change schools. There would be no “Early Bird” class for little Kathi. She didn’t want to physically drag me out of bed every morning.

But as an adult, I realized that if I want to get stuff done in life, I need to get up before the rest of the world. (Or at least my kids.)

I really believe having a morning routine is one of the most powerful ways to not just change your day, but change your life, because we give ourselves more permission to go deeper in the morning than we do at any other time.

Having a morning routine means deciding in advance what you’re going to do, so you can spend your mental energy focusing on what’s really important for the day.


How to Create a Daily Routine for Mornings

Here are six steps to creating your morning daily routine.


Make a list of everything you do in the mornings.

Go into detail, and leave nothing out, no matter how small. Here’s an idea of some things you’ll want to include:

• Brushing teeth
• Showering
• Making breakfast
• Finding car keys
• Getting kids ready
• Quiet time
• Making coffee
• Putting on makeup
• Laundry
• Getting dressed
• Eating breakfast
• Packing your computer bag
• Making lunches


Evaluate your list. 

The next morning, if you remember things that aren’t on the list, write them down. I want you to get an accurate reflection of what you can accomplish and see where the stress is in the morning.

Are you a morning person? Awesome! Load up your mornings, but load it up with the most important stuff.

Are you a night owl? Do everything you can to prep the night before so you can get the rest you need. I will do a whole other blog post on having an evening routine, but the bottom line is…PREP, PREP, PREP.

If it’s not working, brainstorm ways to make it work. Maybe you need a longer prep list the night before, or you might even need to plan earlier in the week. Making a big pot of oats to heat up in the microwave or putting together your outfits for the week can make your mornings go more smoothly. I’m a big fan of a prep and plan day to set you up for success for the rest of the week.


Set Up a Staging Area

This is everything when you are trying to get out the door each morning. Staging is the act of having everything ready to go when you are. Putting everything by the door will save you tons of time and stress. You could even place a chair or table there for that purpose.

Items to place in your staging area:

  • Lunch boxes
  • Jackets
  • Keys
  • Computer Bag
  • Backpacks
  • Homework
  • School or work projects
  • Travel mug or water bottle
  • Cell phone
  • Dog Leash

You can even have a list of the things you need to take in that area so you are sure not to forget a thing.


Complete Tasks By Location 

This is one of those tiny tricks that will absolutely save your mornings.

As much as I need to get in the steps on my Fitbit, I was all over my house as I was getting ready in the morning. Going up and down the stairs a dozen times was taking up a huge chunk of my morning.

So now, I break up my morning by location.

When creating your daily routine, I want you to think about what rooms you use in the morning (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, upstairs, downstairs, etc.) and figure out all the things that need to be done in that room.


  • Make breakfast
  • Make coffee
  • Pack lunches
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Eat breakfast
  • Have quiet time
  • Load dishwasher


  • Shower
  • Dressed
  • Makeup
  • Sort laundry

Front Door:

  • Keys
  • Computer bag
  • Travel mug
  • Handbag
  • Cell phone

I’m a “go downstairs first thing” kinda girl, so I get all my kitchen stuff done, move to my bedroom, and then, if I’m leaving the house, move to the front door and prep to leave.


Time yourself to see how long things actually take.

We are time optimists.

We think it takes five minutes to put on makeup, but it really takes ten. Time yourself so you know where you can save time, and where to schedule more. You’ll have a realistic idea about how long your morning routine takes and reduce your stress level getting out the door.


Print out your list so it’s easy to follow.

Put it up in the kitchen, your bathroom, the bedroom, or wherever you’ll see it. Practice, practice, practice.

When I did this, I learned more efficient ways to get my list done faster. Since I normally eat oatmeal for breakfast, I got to where I could unload the dishwasher in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds it takes to cook in the microwave.

The first couple of weeks are discovery. After that, it’s execution.


Adjust as you go.

By sheer accident, I discovered that my oatmeal turns out just as good if I only cook it for 3 minutes, so I had to think of new strategies to unload the dishwasher 33 seconds faster.

Sometimes you’ll have to change your routine as circumstances change, like for a new job or school schedule. Keep adjusting your routine so that it continues to work for you.

One of the best things that will come out of this is you’ll continually be thinking about how to save time and make your daily routines more efficient. Here are some of my favorite tricks:

  • For the dishwasher, I learned that loading things in groups (plates, drinking glasses, knives, etc.) saves me time in unloading.
  • Set up your coffee the night before. I want to hug myself when I come downstairs and smell coffee.
  • I leave my walking shoes by the front door so when it’s time to exercise, I don’t need to go upstairs to get them.
  • I leave my computer charging downstairs so it’s ready to go in the morning (and fully charged.)
  • I make lunches the night before, and have bought these great salad containers so we can prep the night before (or even two nights before. They are that good.)
  • I have a hook in my bedroom where I hang the next day’s outfit.
  • I sleep in a cute pair of leggings, a tank top, and a sports bra, so I’m ready for exercise the next morning.


One More Tip

By the way, there’s one other thing that can keep us from a happy morning: Clutter! (You knew I had to go there on a Clutter Free Academy blog post.)

If you haven’t already joined our growing community on Facebook, click below to find an encouraging, shame-free place where you’ll get the support you need to get the clutter out of your house.




Peace is possible in the morning, I promise!


Spring Fling Day #4: Clear Books (And Other Media)

Spring Fling Day #4: Clear Books (And Other Media)

clear books

Day four of the Spring Fling and it’s time to hit the books …

Of all the things that people have a hard time getting rid of, I think books are at the top of the list.

As an author, that feels like a very good thing.

But as a woman who is working to make the world a Clutter-Free place, I need to stop being selfish, worrying about my residual checks, and challenge you to release some of those books back into the wild.

It Gets Easier to Clear Books

I have reduced the books in our house from twelve bookcases to three. Yes, in some cases it did feel like a crime. Books are wonderful and awesome—if someone is reading them. But just having books for the sake of owning them doesn’t improve your life or the lives of people who could be reading them.

I have a list of books that I will just keep. Books that I reread on a regular basis, reference books, my favorite writing books, a few cookbooks, and different Bibles. Some of the books I plan on keeping for the rest of my life (or until I change my mind…)

  • Celebration of Discipline
  • The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio
  • Wesley the Owl
  • The Good Good Pig
  • Entreleadership
  • Getting Things Done
  • On Writing
  • Born Standing Up
  • Yes Please
  • America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
  • The Betty Crocker Cookbook
  • Bird by Bird
  • More with Less
  • Several books my friends have written (which I will not list here because I don’t want to leave anyone out)

clear books


– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Start with one bookshelf.
– Do NOT pull all the books out at one time (in some homes, this could be dangerous).

Do you love it? Will you read it again? If you haven’t read it, and want to, create a shelf for “To be read” books and put them in the order you want to read them.


Want to stay Clutter Free when it comes to books and media? Commit to reading what you have before buying new. My challenge is to read three books I currently own before buying a new one.

clear books

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So, share below and tell us about your fling.

Spring Fling Day #3: Clear Out the Bathroom

Spring Fling Day #3: Clear Out the Bathroom

clear out the bathroom

Day three of the Spring Fling, and it’s time to get serious … Let’s clear out the bathroom!

I’m not so worried about your sentimental attachments in the bathroom. (“But I can’t throw away that bottle of Axe Body Wash! I have to keep it — it was the last time my son smelled good.”)

But if you are anything like me, your bathroom can easily get filled with “just in case” items.

I am a worst-case-scenario kinda girl.

“What if we run out of money and I can never buy shampoo again. I don’t want to regret throwing out that six-year-old bottle of Head and Shoulders my cousin left here.”

What if I lose my job and I can’t buy lipstick again. Even though this color makes me look like an extra on the Walking Dead, it’s better than nothing, right? I should hold on to it.”

I get it. I’m a sick, sick woman.

clear out the bathroom

Those things in the picture? Those were all from my kids’ bathroom.

No kid has lived here in over a year. But I kept it all — just in case.

Did I mention that I’m a sick, sick woman?

I bet you may have had some of these thoughts as well. Otherwise, why would you have six containers of foundation and only use one?

It Gets Better

One of the best things you can do to reduce clutter in your bathroom is become brand loyal. If you are a product junkie, always trying out new lipsticks, hairsprays, etc., it’s easy to keep six different kinds of mascara around because you’re never quite sure which one is the best. Find a product that works for you, and when you start to run out, buy another one. But stop buying products you already have.


– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Start with one drawer or one shelf.
– Do NOT pull everything in your bathroom to sort it out. Take it one drawer, shelf, or basket at a time.


Want to stay Clutter Free in your bathroom? Commit to using up what you have. Only buy a new bottle of shampoo once you’ve used up the rest of the shampoo you have on hand.

You say, “But I would never use that old bottle of Head and Shoulders!”

clear out the bathroom

Then throw it out. Only keep what you will actually use. This goes for makeup as well. When you run out, you can buy a new bottle, tube, or jar guilt free. Not only will this save you space, it will also save you money.

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Spring Fling Day #2: Taming the Closet

Spring Fling Day #2: Taming the Closet

taming the closet

Day two of the Spring Fling. This may be your hardest yet. Taming the closet!

Asking women to get rid of clothes is like asking men to get rid of tools.

If you’ve ever struggled to get ready in the morning with dozens of items of clothes in your closet, but have “nothing to wear,” then it’s time to fling a lot of your closet.

People who look pulled together don’t spend 30 minutes wondering, “What am I going to wear?” Because they often have the smallest wardrobes.

Take a hard look at your closet. What is it filled with?

“I might need it someday!”
“But I spent so much money on it!”
“I might be that size again someday.”

Those clothes choke out your real life. If you MUST keep them, store them in another part of the house, where they won’t interfere with your real life.

It Gets Better: Taming the Closet

I have experienced so much freedom in my closet. It has taken me many seasons, but now everything in there is something I would wear today. (Okay, maybe not the heavy sweaters, because it IS May, but I will be swapping out my winter for spring here pretty soon.)

When you switch seasons in your closet (I have a tiny closet, so for me this is a MUST), it is a great time to look at your clothes and see what you actually look forward to wearing. You don’t need to keep “just in case” clothes. Make sure you love to wear everything in your closet.

If you have stuff (and don’t we all) that needs to get hemmed, taken in, let out, or repaired, go get it done so you can have a wardrobe that works for you instead of working so hard to get dressed in the morning.


– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Start with one pole or one shelf.
– Do NOT pull everything in your closet out and sort through it. That will get overwhelming. You will quit and go eat Rocky Road ice cream. (Or at least that’s what I would do.) At the most, pull out three items at a time.

One of the things I like to do is pull out three similar items. Are there two I wear all the time, but one I avoid? Maybe it doesn’t fit, it has a scratchy tag, or I don’t like how it looks on me.

taming the closet

If it’s the scratchy tag, go get a pair of scissors or a seam ripper and take care of that puppy. Otherwise? Get rid of it and let someone else feel fab in it.


You know those days when you feel extra motivated? Yes, they may only come around once a year, but today could be that day!

taming the closet

If so, here are some bonus flings you could do that will bring more peace in your closet:
– Take three things to the cleaners
– Take one thing to get altered
– Get rid of any extra hangers you hate using. (No one should be using wire hangers from the dry cleaners. You’re better than that.)

The next time (maybe tomorrow morning) you get dressed, you will be so glad you did your fling!

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Live Tonight 7PM PDT!  How to Have a Cozy and Cute Home and Be Clutter Free at the Same Time

Live Tonight 7PM PDT! How to Have a Cozy and Cute Home and Be Clutter Free at the Same Time

Join us for a FB Live with KariAnne Wood, March 28 at 7 pm PDT

Decorating. Ugh. This is a stumbling block for most of us self-proclaimed “clutter people.” Because how do you create style when you are laser-beam focused on getting rid of substance?

Controlling the clutter can already feel overwhelming. But to style my home? To not only have a functional home but a beautiful home? I love the idea of it, but I’ll be the first to say that without the right guide, it can be completely overwhelming. Here are some questions I wrestle with when it comes to creating a cozy and cute home AND being clutter free at the same time:

  • I see cute prints in all the magazines, but any print feels overwhelming. How do I get overcome my minimalist white-walls, white-space vibe and incorporate a print or—GULP!—two?
  • As soon as I go to spend money on something I love, I mentally begin adding up the cost of all the other items I’ve bought that I now consider clutter. How can I embrace new design and get over the guilt of past decorating mistakes?
  • I feel overwhelmed by the number of choices I need to make and struggle to find a starting point. How do I pick which room in my home to start with, and where can I focus my efforts to make the biggest bang for my buck?

Maybe, like me, decorating fills you with a bit of buyer’s remorse before you’ve even bought a thing. (Or maybe after you bought four of one thing!)

If you find yourself wanting to decorate, but are scared of the process, I want to invite you to my Facebook Live event with KariAnne Wood, author of the new book “The DIY Home Planner: Practical Tips and Inspiring Ideas to Decorate It Yourself” and blogger behind the acclaimed Thistlewood Farms.

She has promised to help my readers sort through the overwhelm and give us key strategies to help us all create cute and comfy homes while keeping clutter at bay. She’ll give us pointers on:

  • Where to start if you hate everything in your home.
  • What to get rid of and what to re-purpose.
  • How to make smart (not cluttery) choices.
  • The best place to shop.

Seriously, you guys. You will not want to miss this event. And I’m so excited because not only is she giving us all of this DIY wisdom, but she’s also giving one of our lucky readers a copy of the The DIY Home Planner.

This book serves as an all-in-one resource for inspiration, organization, creative encouragement and personalization so you can have confidence in every decorating decision you make. I can’t wait to give it away to one of my readers for free!

To join our live event and get your name in for the free book, go to the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group over at on March 28 at 7 pm PST. Be sure to comment once you’re live to say hello and let us know you’re on!

Can’t wait to see you—and can’t wait to help you make your home cozy, cute and, of course, clutter free.