The biggest move I've made to dramatically improve my morning routine was actually to wake up... later.
I used to wake up 1 hour before the time I have to leave my home. But 1 hour is in fact way too much time, by which I mean it's enough time to start doing things that I don't necessary need to do in the morning (answering an email I've received the day before, putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, packing my belongings for my day at the office, whatever).
And in fact, all of these tasks were often taking me much more than 1 hour to do, together with more essential tasks like showering, breakfast...
So, after a while where I tried to wake up 30min earlier, which only made me do even more random things, and made me even later in the end, I finally decided to wake up 30min LATER.
That way, there's no choice any more : I know that in the morning, I won't do anything but the strictly necessary tasks to get ready for work. Anything else that needs to be done ? I have to do it in the evening before.
Of course it may lead me to go to bed later. Not necessarily though, because it may even more probably lead me to spend less time watching the 15th re-run of some stupid TV show, or even skipping some useless tasks altogether after realizing I would as well live without it.
That's a really good idea that probably wouldn't occur to most people (it hadn't to me until I read this).
I find myself puttering around in the mornings, too, rather than just doing what needs to be done and getting to work.
Of course, rather than having time in the morning and starting to do other things that make you late, you could just leave for work earlier so you finish and get home earlier... That's how I do things. I try to get up at the same time every day and whenever I'm done with shower, breakfast etc... I head to work. It tends to mean I'm one of the first people in the office which lets me get one or two important tasks done before people start asking me for things.
I think too many people think of their work days as running between particular times rather than for a period of time. If you have the flexibility to get in half an hour early and consequently leave half an hour earlier than normal, why not give yourself and extra half hour chill time in the evening (and possibly be travelling outside rush hour for even more free time).
I used to do the same thing. But now, I still get up an hour before I need to get up, but I leave immediately after showering, shaving, etc. The end result: I beat traffic, and I'm early for work, where I can goof off for a few minutes or get an early start.
In my case, it wouldn't really work, since the earlier I leave for work, the more traffic I encounter. The only way I could possibly beat traffic would be to leave for work later, not earlier (or REALLY earlier, more like 2 hours)
My trick to wake up?
I put an alarm 30 mins before I need to get out of bed and an other when it's time.
If I fall asleep after the first alarm, waking up the second time, doesn't feel like I should sleep 2 more hours,
more like I had a nap.
Also, tricking you body into sleeping an even (4, 6 or 8 hours) time, makes the waking up easier.
I do the same thing with alarm clocks. I set one 20 minutes before the other. Half the time I don't even remember the first. I am a 4-5 hour sleeper using no caffeine. Sometimes I don't know how I do it.
Holy crap I didn't even remember this post. Snoozes are 7 minutes. I want 20. Its like taking a perfectly timed nap right after sleeping.
I have come to the conclusion I am now immune to caffeine. The other day I washed down 2 200mg caffeine pills with an energy drink, and took a nap in class. The next day, I didn't take any caffeine and took an even longer nap in class.
Caffeine tolerance develops very quickly, and it develops faster the more you consume. Now, if you were to go cold turkey and endure a caffeine-free existence for at least a week, you could restart the process. I take 300mg a day, 200mg in the morning and 100mg in the afternoon and get used to it in about two weeks.
And, while going off caffeine, you can get wicked headaches. And if naps are shorter with caffeine than without, maybe the caffeine does have some effect.
Over the past week I've actually switched from coffee to black tea in the morning. It's easier to make (Pyrex glass measuring cup in the microwave for 3 minutes with water, add tea bag, steep 3ish mins while I get my stuff ready to go, remove tea bag, add a little sugar, pour in travel mug.) and I find it's more consistent. Sometimes coffee takes on a mind of its own when it's being brewed.
Best thing I ever did, bar none, was investing in a light lamp. Solved my night owl tendencies, my inability to get to sleep at night and wake up in the morning in one fell swoop. Of course, now I have to remember to actually use the damn thing.