Easy morning routine tray to keep everything in one spot

Simplify Morning Routines

June 14, 2016 by Michelle

This shop sharing my easy morning routine has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #IDSimplyPure #CollectiveBias
Easy Morning Routine to organize your day and help you feel in control. DIY visual daily task board and chalkboard long term to do tutorial. Stay organized and motivated.

It may be June, and summer may be a time of relaxation. Unfortunately, I feel like all too often, that’s the ideal and not the reality. As our lives get busier and more connected, we feel more harried and less able to accomplish our daily tasks. Everything gets complicated. But it doesn’t have to. I’ve spent the last couple months coming up with an easy morning routine that allows me to focus on what I need to get done each day and prep myself to face what’s coming.

Simple is my key word for so much of my life, from how I cook to the way I organize.

I tend to suffer from “one-more-thing-itis,” and it’s a problem. In fact, I wrote about this issue, poking fun at myself. It’s hard. My to do list grows and grows, and I want to take those three minutes to just write “one more email” or “clean one more counter” or “check off one more task” on that never ending to do list.

Unfortunately, I ended up with a few problems that made my life more complicated than I wanted. I always felt stressed and as though I wasn’t getting everything done I should or could do. I’d either try to do one more thing and then end up being late or try to cram too much into a day and end up more stressed than I started.

I finally recognized that the simple mantra I use for food is one I need to transfer to more of my life, and I tweaked how I manage my to dos for the last couple months. I feel like I’m in a pretty good place now, and the easy morning routine I’m using now has been a big part of it. I’m a list maker. I love lists, and I love crossing items off lists. In fact, I’ll actually write items on my to do list that I accomplished just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing them off. Raise your hand if you’re with me.

To do notebook to carry with you everywhere to jot down ideas

The problem I faced was that I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but then I would remember something else that needed doing and stop my current task before I forgot to do the new one. Remember If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? That was my life, and it isn’t very effective. My first step was to find a small notebook that came with a pen attached. I keep that with me to jot those tasks down as they come to me, especially when I happen to be out and about. That reassures me I won’t forget to do something because I write it down somewhere I frequently reference.

That worked great. Up to a point. As I crossed off items and added more items, I found myself flipping back and forth over pages trying to figure out what I still had to accomplish, as the tasks were written as I thought of them and not in time or priority order. In a notebook, they weren’t super easy to find. It was a start, but this wasn’t the easy morning routine I needed.

Fortunately, one of my regular routines is grocery shopping. (It’s amazing how that happens with two growing kids, isn’t it?) On a recent trip to Walmart, I needed more creamer. (Mmmmm International Delight Simply Pure Hazelnut Coffee Creamer – see, simple really is the theme.) Bingo! I realized that my coffee time in the morning is the one time of day I take to sit down and just think. That’s when I tend to jump up and grab that small notebook and add to it, but I realized that picking up a few more quick items at Walmart could give me a whole new easy morning routine that would give me the clarity of tasks and satisfaction of visually accomplishing them that I needed in one simple form. Simple is the mantra.

How to Make Your Own Easy Morning Routine (and be sure you stay on task all day)

All you need for this is:

  • An 8×11 photo frame
  • A hanging chalkboard
  • Three small removable hanging hooks
  • A set of marking tags
  • A small notebook with attached pen

Materials to create your own DIY visual to do list

Start by putting in a solid background into your frame. I used white since my chalkboard markers are already fun colors, but you can find a fun piece of cardstock or create an artistic background. Me? I’m more of a function over form kind of gal. On the left top of your glass, use a chalkboard marker to write “To Do.” Add “Done” at the top right corner.

Add to do and done sections to your DIY to do list

Affix a small removable hook below each phrase, saving the third hook.

Add two hooks to the front of your visual to do board

The third hook goes on the back of your frame, near the top. Use this to store your extra marking tags, both the blanks and the tasks you commonly need but aren’t using on a given day so that they’re in easy reach each morning.

Add the last hook to the back of your visual task board

How To Execute Your Easy Morning Routine on Day One

The first time you do this exercise, go through your notebook to do list and determine what items you need to accomplish that day. Make sure you keep in mind what is reasonable to accomplish. As much as I want to simply throw all the items on my to do list and get them done in one day, that isn’t reasonable. I find it disheartening when I don’t finish everything I aim to do. Yesterday, for example, I knew that I had to take my cat to a fairly long vet appointment, drop my son at chess camp 20 minutes away, pick my daughter up from summer school, and I had a heavy workload. This was not the day to start looking into a new homeowner’s insurance company, as much as I’d like to.

As you figure out the items that need to be done today, write each one onto a marking tag and hang it under the “to do” section on the hook.

How to use the visual task board

All the rest of those to do items that you’ve put in your notebook? Transfer those to your chalkboard with your fun chalkboard markers. If there are some items that have a firm deadline, note that in a different color. For example, I know I’ll need to call the vet to follow up on the results of our appointment later this week, and I don’t want to forget to put that on a marking tag Thursday.

Transfer to dos from scratchpad to long term to do organizer

How To Execute Your Easy Morning Routine Going Forward

This doesn’t take much time to set up each morning, and it’s satisfying to have my to dos in place that sets the tone for the entire day. I know what I need to accomplish, and I wasn’t rushed. Instead, I relaxed as I drank my morning coffee out on my front porch. Having an easy morning routine like this puts me in a frame of mind that allows me to accomplish more in the day rather than immediately rushing into a task and hoping I remember everything I need to get done that day.

As I complete a task, all I need to do is move the tag from the To Do side to the Done side. It’s satisfying to watch the Done side fill up. Obviously, the goal is to have all tasks on the Done side by the end of the day.

And if I don’t, I reflect on what derailed me. Did something unexpected come up that I had to accomplish that was a higher priority? Did I forget about something I was supposed to do- and if so, why? Did any tasks take significantly longer than I had expected, and will similar tasks take that long in the future? Was I unreasonable in what I wanted to accomplish? Figuring out why I wasn’t successful on the days I don’t manage to get everything complete allows me to better manage my expectations going forward. And interestingly, it’s also given me the freedom to say “no” to people more often. No, I can’t take on anything more. No, I can’t do that today, but I’ll do it tomorrow.

Of course, if I have extra time, I will grab extra tasks from my chalkboard and complete them. I love erasing them with a little water and cloth as I complete them.

Organizing Your Materials for Your To Do Lists

I keep the chalkboard hung up in the kitchen so that it’s easily accessible and visible. And that visibility also means that sometimes my husband or kids see something on the chalkboard and do it themselves. Someone needs to launder the lights? Hey, they can do that.

Hang long term to do chalkboard

My notebook, on the other hand, sits next to me throughout the day. I pop it in my purse when I leave the house so that I can easily add tasks to it throughout the day.  At night, it sits on my nightstand. That way, no matter where I am, I can jot down my ideas and not stress about them. I’m able to keep my focus so much easier by just jotting them down. That way, I can return to my current task than jumping to a new task constantly.

Of course, the visual daily task board sits front and center in my office. This makes it easy for me to grab a tag and move it to “Done” once I accomplish the task. The satisfaction I get each time I move an item over is incredible.

This easy morning routine has really reduced the stress in my life, and my focus on simple in my life has been a big factor in that. And yes, even my coffee creamer is simple. Remember this whole thing started when I was at Walmart picking up my International Delight Simply Pure? I’m a fan of flavored coffees, and I love that Simply Pure offers caramel, hazelnut, and vanilla flavors with just five simple ingredients, including real milk, sugar, and cream.

International Delight Simply Pure at Walmart

How I Execute My Morning Routine

Part of my whole easy morning routine includes my coffee setup. I don’t want to be scrambling to find what I need each morning. And because I want my coffee to taste as fresh as my creamer, so I store it in the freezer. Simply Pure keeps its flavor, so I don’t have to worry about adding extra creamer for great flavor. I don’t want to be pulling it out each morning, so I store about a a little coffee in mason jars. I needed to label the jars so I don’t accidentally grab my caffeinated grounds in the afternoon or decaffeinated when I’m trying to wake up in the morning. Ergo, I decided to have fun and create emoji labels for the mason jars. Who says simple can’t be fun, too?

DIY Printable for a caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee station

In fact, I created a free printable so you can enjoy these labels for your coffee, too. There are round labels that I use so I can easily look at the tops of my mason jars and see what I grab. If you have different storage needs, there is also a rectangular version you can use, too. Just print on cardstock and cut to fit your needs.

Fun emoji labels for caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee

Along with my coffee, I created an “easy morning routine tray” that I set up as my coffee is brewing. I pull my chalkboard off the kitchen wall, add my notebook, grab my chalk pens, and ensure I have a coffee mug and spoon ready to go.  Once my coffee is ready, I pick up the tray with everything I need and head outside. Then it’s time to to sip and savor my coffee while I figure out the tasks I plan to accomplish.

Easy morning routine in action

International Delight SImply Pure creamer for an easy morning routine

Need some more inspiration? Check out all the ideas here.

What’s your easy morning routine? How do you manage to keep your life simple?


  • Sarah @ 2paws Designs

    Great idea for managing your tasks! I have a list, but it’s a bit scattered. I’m trying to use my planner more effectively to jot down anything I know I need to do by a certain date to help keep me focused. I’m also making an effort to get up an hour before my kids each morning to have that quiet time to get myself prepared for the day ahead. Amazing the difference that tiny slice of time makes.

  • Emily

    I am a paper planner gal! I keep everything in that thing – and put meetings/events in the calendar app on my phone. Every Monday morning, I take a few minutes to plan my week while enjoying a hot cup of coffee! #client

    Leave a Comment

    Your email is never shared.
    Required fields are marked *