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4 Ways to Streamline Your Morning Routine With Lean Six Sigma


August 12, 2019

Always rushing out the door without makeup and your hair only half done? Read on.

One of the best things that ever happened to my career was Lean Six Sigma.

Lean Six Sigma is used by companies to increase collaboration, improve performance and reduce wasted resources.

Say what?!

Lean Six Sigma Your Morning Routine

I joke with my husband that if I go before him, he needs to have my casket wheeled into the church five minutes late so everyone knows it’s me.

He doesn’t think this is particularly funny. But it’s true.

Just about every New Year’s resolution I’ve had as an adult is to be 10 minutes early to everything. Like most resolution-makes, I start out with good intentions, but mid-month, I’ve slipped back into my old ways, throwing just one more load of laundry in the machine before I’m out the door…making me five minutes late to work.

About a year ago, I finally decided to get serious about not only being on time, but being early. I realized how irritated I got when someone was even two minutes late for a meeting.

And then I realized I was that person.


So, I decided to “Lean Six Sigma” my morning routine, and guess what? I’m now often 15 to 20 minutes early to work, relaxed and calm when I walk in.

Here are my top four tips to get your mornings off to a smoother start.

Built-in closets

These gorgeous wardrobes from IKEA have made our lives SO much easier in terms of getting ready quickly each morning.

Lean Six Sigma Your Closet

Tired of shoving clothes into a shared dresser, we replaced them with these IKEA wardrobes. My hubby and I each customized our own, and with the exception of drawers for my bras, panties, socks and tights, I put only shelves in mine.

What did this actually accomplish?

First, I was able to organize my clothes by category (i.e., tanks, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, workout tanks, etc.), which allowed me to see everything with one quick glance.

I also organized from left to right, so the clothes I start with (bras, panties) are followed by shirts, so I literally grab one from each pile and move on.

Finally, folding clothes and placing them on shelves helps prevent wrinkles, so there’s rarely a day I pull something out that needs to be ironed (or in my case, steamed in the dryer).

I then tackled our shared closet, organizing it in similar fashion, starting with short-sleeved tops in the front, followed by long-sleeved sweaters, cardigans and finally, suit jackets. The other rack has work dresses (short-sleeved to long-sleeved) followed by summer dresses and then formal dresses. Pants are pants and skirts are skirts, so those are easy to spot.

Even if I’m too tired to lay out my clothes the night before, choosing what to wear takes a whopping two minutes each time.

Lean Six Sigma Your Wardrobe

This piggybacks on the last recommendation. You can’t fly through picking out your clothes if they don’t fit.

I’m impressed by women who keep a capsule wardrobe; but frankly, I love clothes and I love variety.

That being said, the clothes I own give me enough flexibility to put on about seven pounds and still breathe. Any more, I’m out-of-luck.

I’ve streamlined my wardrobe so that I know everything looks good on me and I like what I own. I didn’t go as far as Marie Kondoing my closet, but I know what works for me. For example, I have more than 15 pairs of Steve Madden P-Heaven flats in various colors, five pairs of Jessica Simpson Claudette pumps, four Ann Taylor sheath dresses with matching blazers and four pairs of NYDJ ponte knit pants (which are literally more comfortable than yoga pants…I’m not kidding!).

Choose to keep what looks great on you and most importantly, makes you feel confident. If you own something you absolutely love and hope to fit back into one day, put it in storage or at the very back of the closet so you don’t accidentally grab it and then burst into tears when you can’t zip it up (been there, done that).

Lean Six Sigma Your Hair

Last year, I discovered these hair extensions, and boy, have my mornings improved. Like most women, after I had my babies and finished nursing, my hair started falling out in clumps and then grew back with a new, strange texture. Because I started my doctorate when my youngest was three months old, I just chopped my hair into a chin-length bob, donated my pony and kept it like that for a couple of years.

I am lucky to have hair that grows like a weed in a garden, but it has never been as thick as it was before having kids. I was growing out my Dr. Donna Duncan-like lob when I received a scholarship to attend a conference in Salt Lake City. While there, a bunch of stressed-out, working moms/doctoral students decided it was time for some “me” time, so we ventured out for mountain hikes and spa visits.

In case you haven’t noticed the abundance of Utah-based beauty bloggers, the city and surrounding area is a tired mom’s haven. One gal got eyelash extensions and one got her eyebrows microbladed. I strolled into a salon and an hour later, walked out with a bunch of perfectly-matched, clip-in hair extensions that made me feel like a million bucks.

My hair extensions made me feel like a million bucks on one of the biggest days of my life: officially earning my doctorate with my family by my side.

Since then, I’ve dyed my hair a couple of times and purchased clip-ins of varying colors and lengths. I almost always wait for sales and because they last months and months–much longer than a standard haircut or highlights–in my mind, they are worth the money. I only get my hair trimmed once or twice a year now, keeping my ends healthy with at-home deep conditioners.

It literally takes me less than five minutes to put in a full head of clip-ins (two minutes for my lob-style clips) and because they make my hair full, I don’t have to wash my fine strands for a good three days. Prior to the extensions, I could never go more than a day without washing my hair because it would fall flat, so I’d have to spend a good 30 minutes washing, blow drying and styling my mop every workday. From 30 minutes to under five? I’ll take it.

Curly hair gals rejoice. Although most extensions start out straight, there are a ton of tutorials out there about how to curl them to make them look natural.

Lean Six Sigma Your Beauty Routine

I have three makeup staples that don’t come off all day and take a total of one minute to put on: Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge blush, LipSense lipstick and Butter London Double Decker Lashes mascara.

The rest of my makeup is of the drugstore-variety, but one beauty splurge I made was the aforementioned eyebrow microblading. My brows have always been light brown, making it easy to pull off blonde hair for almost a decade. However, after baby #2, my brows got more sparse, and no matter which brow treatment I tried (everything from brow/lash boosters to castor oil), they never grew back, meaning I would have to spend four or five minutes drawing them on every morning. And since I can’t draw a straight line, this task would often take double the time because I would get my makeup done, only to realize my brows were crooked and I would have to start over.

Mircoblading is not for the faint of heart. I did a lot of research to find a reputable artist and followed her Instagram for months before taking the plunge. It was one of the best decisions I have made because a year later, my brows look great and I’ve cut out another five minutes from my beauty routine.

Total Time Saved

You’ll come to find that I’m pretty frugal, so some of my splurges might seem out of reach. That being said, by cutting out wasted time (why I refer to this routine as “Lean Six Sigma”), I’ve cut my morning getting ready routine down from an hour to less than 20 minutes including a quick shower.

I couldn’t believe that I actually spent an hour getting ready, but the darn washing, drying and styling my hair every morning put a kink in the chain. Sure, I could have thrown my hair in a wet bun like I used to do in my early 20s, but I’ve come to realize that I feel more professional and confident when my hair is styled and makeup done…and when I’m not rushing into the office at the last minute, sweaty and stressed.

Your Turn

I’m curious: what are your favorite time-saving beauty and fashion tips? Leave me a comment below and share your secrets!

  1. Paula says:

    Thank you for your post. I am recently divorced, starting a more professional job and need to try to dress more professional as opposed to scrubs and sloppy sweats. I don’t wear a lot of make up..never really learned how to put it on..I would like to though. But my’s embarrassing. Happy New Year..I’m going to purge my closet today since we are having bad weather.

    • Best of luck to you in your new role and in your new life–you’ve got this!

      I have a couple of boards on Pinterest with outfit ideas you can check out:

      Casual Friday (for more casual workplaces):

      Office Fashionista:

      For makeup, my life changed when I started watching Maskcara tutorials years ago. She has her own product line that I love (Seint) that teaches you how to emphasize your good features–not hide the ones you don’t like. It’s minimal makeup in a short time period. Here’s my Pinterest board with some tutorials and tips (scroll down a bit):

      As for purging your closet, if you’re not on Poshmark already, hop on and start selling. I make about $1,000/year from selling my clothes and accessories that are in great condition and then I use some of that money to purchase my favorite brands at a discount. For a limited time, use my code LADYSUNKISSED to save $10:

      Please let me know if you need anything else!

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