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There never seems to be enough time in the day.

Common courtesy aside, we greet one another with our itinerary when asked how we are. We don’t have time for fun, frivolity, or fashion. I receive the occasional it-must-be-nice-to-have-time-to-do-such-and-such remark concerning my fashion choices. We have resigned ourselves to a life of casual wear and fatigue in the name of busyness.

As opposed to popular belief, I am a very busy woman. My style and beauty routines are quite streamlined for this reason. I spend 20 minutes a week choosing outfits. Some mornings, my makeup routine takes 10 minutes. I don’t have time to waste on unnecessary morning rituals. I don’t have time in my life to ignore my personal well-being either. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Here’s a look at my weekly routine:

Organized-closetEverything in its place

Organization is the key to a streamlined routine. It’s the foundational principle to an efficient life. The rest of the steps won’t work for you if you skip this step.

Invest in closet organizers, especially if your space is cramped. You don’t have to buy stock in Ikea or The Container Store. (Frugal tip: check out Amazon in January and September. You can find closet organization essentials for lower prices.)

Organize jewelry, scarves, shoes, seasonal wear, lingerie, and makeup. If you can see what you own, it makes it easier to choose outfits. It also saves you the time it takes to rummage through everything you own to find one item, thus making you late for work.

Here is a tour of my bathroom and closet:

An actual shot of my bathroom sink

An actual shot of my bathroom sink

It doesn't stay like this for long, but I try.

It doesn’t stay like this for long, but I try.

 

Over-the-door shoe rack

Over-the-door shoe rack

I have lingerie organizers that slide onto the shelf.

I have lingerie organizers that slide onto the shelf. Top rod: Cardigans sweaters, camis, belts, and scarves. Not shown: hanging cami, belt, and scarf organizers

The organizer on the floor holds socks, leggings, and hats.

The organizer on the floor holds socks, leggings, and hats. Bottom rod: jeans, skirts, blouses

Jackets, dresses, jumpsuits, and slacks

Jackets, dresses, jumpsuits, and slacks

I pair similar styles together. You don’t have to color coordinate every single item. That’s optional. The idea is to create a visually simplistic space that the brain can easily interpret almost by instinct.

Pack up or donate old items that don’t fit or you don’t wear. Unnecessary clutter can overwhelm the mind.

Take time to plan

I plan every outfit for the week, usually on Saturdays. I consider where I will go, what I will do, and what the weather conditions will be. This system is even more important now that I have to consider outfit-of-the-day photos and video shoots. I only spend 20 minutes deciding on outfits.

See the space in the middle of the closet in the last photo? This is where I hang completed outfits. I haven’t planned outfits yet, so all you see is hangers.

The purpose of my planning system is two-fold — to view the outfits before wearing them and to determine if something needs to be washed, dry cleaned, or ironed. If a garment needs care, I can remedy the situation that moment rather than the morning of the event. It’s also a great way to see if colors and patterns work together.

If you’re a person who tries on several outfits looking for one ensemble that works, this system will save you loads of time in the morning.

The night before, I lay out my outfit for the next day complete with shoes, lingerie, and jewelry. The idea may smack of middle school when Mom made you organize your morning, but it does work. Again, less rummaging is efficient.

Establish rituals and routines

I have a set weekly routine. Saturday: pumpkin mask and makeup brush cleaning. Sunday: mani/pedi. Monday: hair mask. Tuesday: berry peel. Thursday: Tumeric mask.

Create a schedule of rituals. Rituals differ from routines. We enjoy rituals and tend to make time for them. Morning coffee. Checking emails. Lunch with friends. We often work our schedule around rituals.

I inherited the weekly manicure ritual from my mother and grandmother. I come by it easily. Like clockwork, they would spread their nail tools across the kitchen table and meticulously filed their nails. Mom says you can tell a lot about a woman from her nails. I never understood what that meant until my 30s.

When my schedule ramped up, I let my nails go. I made a vow to myself to set aside the hour each week it takes to give myself a manicure. It was a symbolic decision to put myself first, if even for an hour. Life is too short for chipping nails and dry cuticles.

Maybe it’s facial Friday, spa Saturday, or mask Monday. Whatever the ritual, make time for it. Using a little alliteration to help you remember never hurts either.

Practice Efficiency

There are ways to minimize your routine:

  • Search for products that reduce the time you spend getting ready in the mornings. I use a combined cleanser and toner. Use a long-lasting eye color that causes the eyes to pop and doesn’t require a primer. Use a tinted BB cream with SPF and moisturizer. With a little research, you can minimize your beauty routine.
  • Invest in a good hair cut. Never underestimate the power of an easy-to-style flattering cut. I attempted to grow out my pixie, but it took too much time to fix my hair. I’m in a very fast-paced, overly busy season in my life for the next several months. Temperamental hair and 8 a.m. classes do not mix well. No one should resort to profanity while fixing their hair. So I cut it. Problem solved. It’s nice to emulate the lob of the chic celebrity on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, but, let’s be honest here, who has the time for all that product and tool usage. I guess I’ll have to wait for that Sienna Miller style later when life simmers down.
  • Multitask whenever possible. I clean my brushes while I wait for my pumpkin mask to set. It helps me to remember to clean my brushes weekly. In the mornings, I prep my hair with product and let it air dry a bit while wearing a mask. In the meantime, I spend that 10-minutes making my lunch or organizing my bag. After I rinse off the mask, my hair is mostly dry, which reduces the time I spend on blow drying and styling. If it’s not a mask day, I apply my primers, foundation, and concealer while I wait.
  • Consider unconventional ways of streamlining your routine. I make green smoothies with Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. It’s part of my skincare routine. (It’s the key to glowing skin and is naturally anti-aging) It’s also breakfast. I kill two birds with one stone. I do my nails while watching my favorite TV shows. This step may require a little creativity, but it’s well worth it.

Evaluate

Are we really all that busy? We always find time to do the things that matter to us, whether it’s sitting in the drive-through line at Starbucks before work or monitoring our social media accounts. It’s about priorities and values. We need to evaluate our motives and behaviors with stark honesty.

Are we actually afraid of judgment? If we are not as busy as we let on, will other people see us as ineffective? Will they question our parenting skills, our competency, or our value as women?

Women become martyrs to our busyness in the name of motherhood, career, and marital partnership. We let ourselves go. This is neither healthy nor enjoyable. With increasing rates of heart disease and depression in women, we need to step off the busyness wheel from time to time and regroup. We do ourselves and everyone else around us a disservice when lie down to the guillotine of martyrdom. It’s time to find time to redefine modern womanhood.