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5 Super Quick Day-Brighteners You Can Do Before You Leave the House

February 23, 2018

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Every so often, while I'm waiting for the shower water to warm, I let a scary thought slip in: "What would mornings be like if—instead of standing here, listing back and forth like a zombie—I were actually doing something with this time?" I could be brushing my teeth! Scrolling through the news! Cutting my nails! What possibility!

The issue with mornings, though, is that even if there's a fair amount of opportunity to multitask, it can be painful to accomplish anything outside of the routine. Either you've got the timing down to a science—or you're like me and it takes every ounce of concentration to make it out the door wearing pants.

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Which is where these five-minute day-brighteners come in handy. In the time you spend reaching around for the snooze button or staring at the kettle, willing it to boil, you could embark on and complete a task that will help you start the day feeling accomplished. Look at how much you've already done. Permission to skip the rest of the day's chores, granted.

1. Scramble eggs—in brown buttah.

Scrambling a couple of eggs takes roughly the same amount of time as scooping yogurt into a bowl and drizzling it with honey. And, I might argue, a hot breakfast gives a typical weekday morning the pizzazz normally reserved for Saturday.

In Emma Laperruque's go-to method, the eggs cook almost as soon as they hit the pan, so you don't have to wait around for the slooow scramble. To make things faster, the standout flavor comes not from additions like cream cheese or chopped garlic, but from allowing the butter—which you're already using anyway—to brown before you add the eggs. And even better? Your scramble won't stick to the pan, which means clean up is minimal (and put-off-able).

2. Prepare to be squeaky clean.

I'm not asking you to deep-clean in the morning (what? do you think I'm crazy?), but I am saying that you can set yourself up to clean later. Take 5 to mix together a concoction made from materials you've got lying in wait, like vinegar, baking soda, and citrus peels.

With a cleaning solution ready to roar, you'll have one less excuse not to scrub down the spot you've been meaning to get to—window, cutting board, stovetop, or (gasp) toilet bowl—when you happen upon a few idle minutes.

3. Nuture your sourdough starter.

People (people like me!) freak out about sourdough starters, but they're actually just low-maintenance pets. Every day, or every week, you discard half of it and then replenish with a 2:1 ratio of flour to water. If you forget about it for a while, it's easy to bring it back to life, and you can even dry it out and save it for the future. What kind of pet offers that sort of insurance? Sourdough starters > goldfish > ferrets.

If you don't have a sourdough starter, it only takes—you guessed it—five minutes to get it going. You can measure out the two ingredients (flour + water) while your coffee brews.

4. Give yourself the (very expedited) spa treatment.

You're making brown butter scrambled eggs for breakfast (see suggestion #1, please), which leaves your oats, yogurt, honey, and banana a little lonely. Luckily, you can shuttle those ingredients right into the blender and turn them into a soothing, exfoliating scrub that, as long as you keep your eyes closed, will transport you straight to the spa.

Apply the glop to damp skin and massage in upward circles or, if you find yourself with a little more time, let it sit for 15 minutes. Eat any leftovers (no, really).

5. Tidy something. Tidy anything.

When you neaten up a little here and there (putting away the clean dishes, untangling your rat's nest of electronic cords, making the bed), you're able to avoid the Big Tidy later. As Alanna Okun smartly points out, checking off the little, quickie tasks in the morning opens the door to more momentous, dare-I-say exciting projects (like vacuuming and mopping) later on.

But if even that is too overwhelming, you can still move all of your miscellaneous items to a basket, box, or shelf that's designated as "Stuff Purgatory." Getting those randos (no offense) out of your space will give you some breathing room—just be sure you sort them eventually.

Phew—you did it. Now it's time to leave the house feeling like a gazillion bucks. (That face mask helped, huh?)

What's the best way you use an otherwise-idle five minutes? Tell us in the comments below.

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