As busy professionals we are constantly looking for ways to work smarter, and not harder. It's basically my motto for 2018 and you're welcome to adopt it as well. 

As a newfound morning person, I can't help but share some of the small changes I've been practicing that actually have a noticeable impact on my day-to-day life, especially when it pertains to my mood and productivity levels in the office.

Back in the day, your parents might have pushed Wheaties on you for breakfast, and it's not just because their slogan was, "The Breakfast of Champions." They knew that the way you start your morning affects the rest of your day, and wanted to instill in you a positive behavior.

Now that you're grown and independent, you may not choose to start your day the same way, but the old adage still holds true: Your early bird efforts will set the tone for the rest of the day. Here's how to create a morning routine that will set you up for personal and professional success.

1. Don your power suit (or at least something that makes you feel confident)

Nobody is asking you to set out your clothing the night before. You should, however, have an idea as to what is available to you, and have it ready (if you have a big presentation or another special event, you might be pulling out an outfit that is not part of your regular rotation). The includes making sure everything actually fits, and is ironed and ready to go. Make sure it is a style that you are comfortable in, that it is not outdated, and is suited to your body type and that you feel confident in.

If not, get rid of the outfit now because you will never wear it, and it's time to start investing in something that makes you look and feel good.

2. Get something to eat at home, or at the office

Breaking the fast is as important now as when you were five. When you're hungry, you can't think, you're not as on the ball as you would be, and your temper will generally be shorter than when your tummy is satisfied.

Subsisting on coffee does not count, and will only serve to make you more jittery. Breakfast can be as easy as throwing a cereal bar into your bag and eating it during your commute, or as intricate as juicing and cooking up a hearty meal.

3. Check your appointments

Whether you have your appointments in your phone, with your secretary, or penned into an old-fashioned (but trusty!) agenda, keeping your commitments in one place can save you all kinds of confusion and trouble mid-day. It's easy to let appointments slip, so having everything in a place that you can easily check can save a last-minute scramble.

4. Allow yourself extra travel time

Until they come up with teleportation tools, you'll have to allow yourself travel time between appointments. Allow yourself as much time as you think you need, plus half that time, in order to account for traffic. It will reduce the amount of stress you experience, and you'll be less likely to arrive sweaty, disheveled and five minutes late.

Tardiness is one of my biggest pet peeves, as it sets a negative tone from the start. Remember that time is the most valuable gift one can give, so showing a lack of respect for someone else by being tardy can be a slap in the face.

If you're like me and mornings have always been your Achilles heel, it's time to make some changes. For the past two months, I have been waking up hours earlier than I did in the past, eating a filling breakfast, and planning out my days. There are no distractions, and even my social media friends haven't posted anything new for me to get sucked into since the night before. I am able to get most of my important work for the day accomplished before I even leave for the office.

By creating a morning routine that sets you up for success, you can change your whole outlook on life. It may sound unbelievable, but I've done it and it's making a huge difference in my life. It's taken me 30 years to become a morning person instead of a night owl, which leads me to believe that you can make the transition, too, if you set your mind to it.

Published on: Jun 29, 2018