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Advice: Does this sound like you? You roll out of bed exhausted every morning

These down-to-earth tips will help get you going in the morning, and keep you productive all day

Your brain was going like gangbusters all night, keeping you awake with thoughts and plans about your business. Now you’re ready to execute – if you could just find the shirt you were planning to wear to that important client meeting. Where’s the address again? Uh-oh, your phone isn’t charged, so you go on the computer to look up the location. Next thing you know, you’re sucked into emails. You look up, still in your bathrobe, and an hour has passed. Where did the morning go? Now you’re going to be late – and your phone still isn’t charged.

Four simple morning habits can change you from a harried slob in a bathrobe to a paragon of productivity

1. Check your to-do list. You do have one, right? Okay, this habit really starts the night before, when you make a to-do list before going to bed. “Dumping” your to-do’s onto paper (or digital calendar) helps you clear your mind so you’ll sleep better (no worries about forgetting stuff).

smartest-things-morning-lesonsky-open-forum-leadBefore you dive into your day, take a moment to glance at your schedule. If you’re like most small-business owners, your to-do list might have a dozen or more items on it. Figure out which are the must-do’s. These are typically things that involve other people (like travel, meetings or sales calls) or deliverables with firm deadlines (a big order has to ship today; a project is due). Unless you see a lot of down time, resist the urge to pack your to-do list with “just a few more things.” It’s important to leave some buffer time to deal with all the emergencies that inevitably come up when you’re running a small business.

2. Do something for yourself. Whether it’s exercising, meditating or even just taking a really long, energizing shower, some type of activity that feeds you and centers you is a smart way to start the day. Any of these activities can help you get in touch with your subconscious—it’s amazing how solutions to problems that seemed insurmountable when you’re sitting at your desk can suddenly present themselves when you’re not thinking about them. (One of my business partners swears she gets most of her best ideas while running.)

I know – you barely have time to take a quick shower, much less take a long one, work out or meditate in the morning. All I’ll say is this: Everyone I know who makes time to do it says it pays off. Another colleague of mine skipped his morning workout for a week, trying to give himself an extra half an hour a day to work on a big project. He ended up wasting more than half an hour a day because he hit the 3:00 slump every afternoon and was no use to anyone.

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