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10 ways to upgrade your morning

Wednesday - 9/25/2013, 7:13am  ET

morning
Opening the blinds, doing some light exercise or something creative can help you ease into the day. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - Figuring out where people spend the most time getting ready for work is the key to getting out the door faster. Then, people need to eliminate what slows them down to expedite the morning.

For parents, time is lost finding their child's missing shoe or book that disappeared overnight. For others, time is lost preparing lunches and dealing with other small distractions.

Eliminating wild cards in the beginning of the day can help the morning run more smoothly.

The website Lifehacker suggests some easy ways to streamline mornings:

  1. Carve out downtime: If your thoughts keep you up at night, save them for the morning. Easier said than done of course, but knowing you have carved out time in your day to contemplate what's ahead might help you sleep.

  2. Track your habits: Determine what's taking the most time in your morning routine -- waiting for coffee to brew or preparing lunches? Once you find the culprit, make up for lost time by planning for or around it.

  3. Put the kids on a routine: Just like bedtime, if expectations are set for the morning, things can move more smoothly, according to Lifehacker. If breakfast is always first and organizing their backpacks comes before getting dressed -- follow that schedule to make the morning go faster.

  4. Eat lighter: Having lighter meals at night helps encourage more restful sleep.

  5. Prioritize tasks over email: Checking email constantly slows you down and distracts you, so set aside time for it, the site says. Also, if it helps you get into a work mode, complete a task before checking your inbox so you don't feel bogged down.

  6. Space out caffeine: Having shorter bursts of caffeine are more effective than downing a mug and running out the door, the site says. The site recommends switching to tea or diet soda, if you can stomach it.

  7. Boost your alertness: Open the blinds, do some light exercise and something creative. It might help you rely less on caffeine to start your day.

  8. Set an alarm for 10 p.m.: Set something in your home -- your microwave or cellphone -- to beep when it's time to prepare for the next day. Grind the coffee, make lunches, plan out what the kids will wear, and check your calendar so you go to bed feeling less stressed about what you'll wake up to.

  9. Hit the gym: ... or the trail or the floor for some push-ups. Lifehacker suggests cranking out some morning activity to get your blood flowing and improve your overall health all day.

  10. Know yourself: Figure out when you're at your best during the day -- with the most energy, brainpower and focus. Learning your peak times of performance will help you decide when to do specific tasks you need to get done.

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