Snap! You’re awake… what time is it?… 8.24…8.24!!?! Panic surges through your limbs, shocking out any lingering drowsiness from you as you realise you’ve slept right through your alarm and now you have 15 minutes to get ready for work… What do you do? Jack Bauer-esque time-management and ability to perform under pressure is a must. Unfortunately, the reality is most of us spend the first 10 of our 15 available minutes swearing, running around in circles and staring at the alarm clock, bewildered and saddened by its betrayal.
But freaking out doesn’t get you any closer to getting to work on time. It’s crunch time. Not the delicious crunchy sensation of cereal time… but the time of crunch… the time of sacrifice. You have a morning ritual, but something has to go… what do you do? What makes the cut?
Cleanliness is next godliness, as we know… so is it worth risking your godly status in the workplace to save time? There’s nothing better than feeling fresh and clean before a day of work, but it is easily the most time-consuming morning activity – even if you are a quick latherer and have a brilliantly efficient towel-down technique. Forgoing a shower however is a selfish act, you are putting your filthiness in the direct line of innocent nostrils. Showering the night before is a popular option taken by some. I also know of people who wash their armpits in the sink or smother themselves in baby-wipes. There’s also the option of shrouding yourself in a mist of deodorant, an English bath in other words, but there really is no substitute for a proper shower.
Verdict: Basic sanitation is a first-world privilege, so take advantage of it. Don’t skip the shower, unless you want to be known as pig pen.
The body has needs and they must be obeyed. But in the interest of time-saving, sometimes you must grit your teeth and hold on like a brave Spartan at Thermopolae. The issue with the toilet trip is that it can be a little unpredictable – you don’t really know how long it will be before you can once again leave the throne. Other bathroom duties can be be controlled, but your time on the loo is at the mercy of your digestive system. If you’re facing the possibilty of missing a train or bus that only run every hour or so, it might be necessary to hold on and walk a little stiltedly until you finally get to the bathrooms at work.
Verdict: It’s always better to deal with this at home than at work, only skip if it’s life or death.
The most important meal of the day, unless you are eating lunch with the Queen or dinner with the guy who voices Optimus Prime. After a eight hour kip, your stomach will be howling for some coco pops and peanut butter toast – so woe betide the man who doesn’t appease the hunger beast. Skipping breakfast is an easy option to save time, but it’s a costly one – your gut will grumble and it’s actually bad for you. The smart option is to pack a breakfast to eat at work, or if that’s not possible – slurp down a liquid breakfast popper while you put your pants on. But if you like your bowl of cereal in front of the morning cartoons (and what normal functioning being doesn’t?) – then perhaps going to work stinky or looking like a deranged vagabond is better than missing your sugary flakes and Spongebob.
Verdict: While not ideal health-wise, skipping brekkie is the easiest way to save time in the morning. Sacrificing breakfast also makes skipping tooth-brushing more feasible – like a time saving combo-bonus of sorts. Plus. in most cases, you can find an easy alternative to eat on the fly or once you arrive at work.
Morning TV / Cartoons
A morning ritual doesn’t feel complete unless you’ve seen some form of animated antics from your favourite spandexed superhero, talking animal or anthropomorphic sponge. Or, when you grow up a bit and become an adult (I guess that happens around 35 or something?), you might watch the morning shows, with their awkward banter and diminutive weatherclowns. Regardless, a bit of teev-time in the morning is a luxury and as a luxury, it unfortunately must go. If you’re running late, it will only serve to distract you.
Verdict: Cut it. You can always TiVo Spongebob for later viewing.
If there are any dentists reading, I brush at least twice a day – and after each meal if I am able. Really, nothing makes you feel grosser than a mouth full of furry teeth and breath that would melt a diamond. Brushing your teeth is a must before leaving the house in the morning, considering most of our verbal greetings begin with a breathy ‘h’ (‘hello’, ‘hi’, ‘how’s it going?’, hhhhey’ etc). You can perform a adequate brush in 20 seconds or so, it’s worth it.
Verdict: It’s the last thing you should do before leaving the house and the last thing you should sacrifice. No-one wants to be greeted in a morning with a big, British smile… don’t be that guy.
Ironing, belts, shoelaces, buttons, zippers, cuffs, bra-hooks, ties, rings, bows… clothes are so fecking fiddly. Unfortunately, you can’t skip getting dressed altogether to save time – unless you also want to lose your job and gain a criminal record. But you can sacrifice style for time-efficient clobber. Creased t-shirts and elastic pants are easily thrown on (no time for underwear) and a pair of thongs will suffice. Ok, that’s not really business attire, but if you can come up with a good enough excuse (thought it was superhero dress-up day – Couchpotato Man away!, forced to clothes-swap with a hobo at knifepoint, shot with a clothes-cheapening raygun… you can have those for free) you might get away with it… once.
Verdict: Cannot be skipped for obvious reasons, but forward-thinking can save you time in a pinch – prep clothes the night before and practice your buttoning-up technique in an 80s power ballad-driven montage.
Hair / Makeup
Personal grooming is a very individual habit. Depending on your style and natural attractiveness, this routine can take seconds, minutes or even hours. Work is usually somewhere between retail-shopping (which is above service-station and grocery-shopping) and casual dinner. So you need to put in at least enough effort to be presentable, but not look like you’re trying too hard. In the interests of time, this should sit below basic hygiene and dietary needs – meaning it can be skipped. At risk of incurring a personal death sentence of women scorned, I won’t delve too deep into the ‘women-take-forever-to-get-ready’ thing, but you know… a face doesn’t always need an hour of fine sanding and three coats of lacquer. Your boss will be happier putting up with a day of you looking a little dishevelled than you rocking up a couple of hours late looking faaabulous.
Verdict: It’s tough, but it can be sacrificed. You can always pack grooming materials and touch-up once you’ve clocked in. Besides, being neat and pristine on public transport makes you the freak.
The heart-startling realisation that you’ve just slept your way into an epic race against the clock to get to work on time only piles on the stress. Unless you absolutely must attend work that day, it’s best to roll over, grab the phone, put on your weakest, most pity-inspiring voice and chuck a sicky.
If you still think it’s too hard – watch and learn from the master: