I am a writer and full-time substitute teacher who knows how to get to work on time looking great.
How to Get Ready for Work in 30 Minutes
If you’ve ever had a job that starts extremely early in the morning, you know how difficult it can be to appear bright and alert and look your best, even if you are feeling like the total opposite. I’m here to tell you that is possible to look like a Vogue queen or king, even if you only have 30 minutes to spare.
Some can do it in less time, but I personally need at least half an hour to get out the door looking decent, and the point of this article is to tell you how you can leave for work in relatively good shape, so let’s stick to that time frame. If you can get out the door in 15 minutes or less and manage to look incredible and refreshed in the eyes of your workmates, then more power to you. I’d have to read your own words of advice and take my hat off to you.
Okay, so I’m not trying to say that you need to become a model in 30 minutes or appear like you are going in for a film shoot. For the everyday 9–5 person’s purposes, it’s more about impressions. You can still give the impression that you are all that without the powder room behind the set, half a dozen makeup artists, and a thousand people around to cover every tiny pore and blemish on your face.
The trick is to go through your routines down fast and still be able to feel proud of the face you wear. As a substitute teacher, I would sometimes notice other teachers, more often than not young, attractive female colleagues, who really gave you a sha-baam! You saw, well heard them coming, usually, a mile away with those clickety-clack, three-foot stilettos, and when they rounded the corner, it was all hair, pink velvet cardigans, and rouge. My self-esteem went down about ten notches during most of these exchanges. I always wondered how someone could look that good with what I had to assume was the same amount of time to work with that I had in the mornings.
This Might Come as a Surprise
Well, I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t take these work-starlets hours upon hours to get their faces on straight. I know this because I am proud to say I have elevated myself to the "cool teachers' club" as well since these early experiences. It actually just takes a few minutes. Keeping all of the above in check should make getting out the door in a timely manner a fluid process, and, with some practice, in no time at all, you will be adept at giving yourself a five-minute Vogue makeover.
Some of the points I’m going to mention may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to let some of the minor ones go. Letting yourself slack off even a little bit can break that crucial five minutes you desperately need to be at work on time while giving the right impression. If you feel that you’ve got this, you are great, and you show up to work looking like something out of a magazine every morning, that’s wonderful, and again, you might as well skip this one and give lessons to me. If you could use a few pointers, though, I may be able to help. For my fellow readers out there who are not morning people especially, this should resonate.
1. Don’t overthink it.
You don’t need to be perfect, so don’t overthink your morning rituals, especially when it comes to your appearance.
2. Manage your time before you go to work.
If you are one of those people who struggle even when you feel that you are giving yourself an appropriate amount of time in the morning—i.e., you are still in a half-awakened state at 5 AM or are just slow—the trick is to establish a flow in your routine.
If you are an overthinker or perfectionist or take "just a little too long" doing your makeup most days, learn to cut corners. This is the key phrase that gets me through most mornings. Even two minutes can sometimes make or break you when doing all of these little tasks if you only have 30 minutes to work with, so spend them wisely!
3. Set your clothes out the night before.
This one seems to be a given, but you’d be surprised at what a great time-saver this is. On that occasional late night, when I spend a few extra minutes with my boyfriend or get caught up in Lifetime binges, I put it off until the next morning. You’d be surprised to note that it’s not the five-minute process you thought it was! That few extra minutes of fun from the night before spills out into the inability to get out the door at 6:30 AM on the dot—and, if you are a teacher like I am or in a similar line of work, you know how important making it out the door 6:30 AM on the dot is.
Even if you are not a teacher, you still understand the importance of saving that final five minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rummaged through my sock and underwear drawer, faced with painful organization inefficiencies. I usually curse myself for the next five minutes for not having everything in its proper place. If you know your clothes are disorganized, though, setting them out the night before can be a game-changer.
4. Have some food packed the night before.
I have a range of food sensitivities that make eating out impossible most of the time, and without proper planning, it is definitely not going to happen. I need to cook my food the night before, and while elaborate work in this regard is unnecessary, I do need to have something ready.
My motto is to have something ready at all times. Since I tend to gravitate between a paleo and keto diet most of the time, my version of planning is to throw a turkey leg, cooked ham and cheese, leftover chicken casserole, etc., into a plastic container with 4–6 hardboiled eggs.
Again, there’s no need to be a perfectionist here! You are simply doing what is most plausible for your own situation to get you out the door at that required time.
5. Get to bed early enough.
I mentioned earlier that I’m writing this for those who are not morning people. It’s also written for insomniacs and for those who have chronic trouble sleeping. I myself am a notoriously bad sleeper, notorious in the sense that most of my friends and those in my immediate circle know me as the bad sleeper!
When I mentioned that I was going to be a full-time substitute for a neighboring county this year to one of my best friends, she laughed and said something like, "Wow, that’s something I would like to see!" Determined to make it or break it, therefore, I decided that I would start winding down at 8 PM every night. I had hoped that doing this would allow my 2 AM-adjusted body to have time enough to get drowsy before I crossed the 10–11 PM line.
Not only do I start to settle down at 8 PM every night, but I also start my routine sleeping supplements at that time. I use a 1500mg extra strength L-Tryptophan. I know that melatonin is the go-to for many people, but for those with more severe sleep disorders, for myself, and for many of those I’ve spoken to, it’s not enough.
6. Know yourself!
I once had a friend who said something to the effect of, "I’m smart in that I know when I’m not being smart." If you know you have trouble with one of the above aspects, i.e., you are an overthinker, which in turn eats up those extra minutes, you are an extremely bad sleeper, your drawers are disorganized, you are a perfectionist about doing your makeup, you have eating disorders which require planning ahead, etc., plan accordingly.
If you plan, you can learn to circumnavigate these issues, and this will keep you sane enough and your head screwed into place long enough for you to make it to work in a timely fashion.
Impressions Are Very Important
As I stated above when talking about my early experiences working with teachers, it doesn’t take hours upon hours to look like you really know what it’s about. The trick that one must always remember is that you must always keep up appearances. This may seem somewhat superficial, but that doesn’t make it any less true, at least in terms of how others view us.
Since the way others view us plays a huge role in our self-esteem, and in certain jobs- like teaching, your effectiveness really depends on how the students view you, as they will be more likely to work for you, it is also one of the main doors to ultimate work power. Success.
Giving a good impression should always be at the very top of your list, no matter what. You don’t need to spend hours upon hours doing it, but you need to look like you’ve got it going on and dress at least somewhat smartly, and conduct yourself with confidence no matter what.
Keeping all of the above in check can help you to complete the picture of yourself in a major way. Not only that, but it will build confidence, make you more effective in your career, help in your communication skills, and aid in your long-term success. Practice all six items on the list on a daily basis, and do weekly checks on yourself to determine where you are at; if you fall off the bandwagon on a couple of them, you can do a kind of mental revision of those items for the following week.
Paying close attention to the small details counts. Make the list a daily routine, and you will be happy.