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By Neha Sampat
April 27, 2017

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “What’s your morning routine before going to work?” is written by Neha Sampat, CEO of Built.io.

Over the years, I’ve found my power hours are from 5 to 8 a.m., during which I will knock out thought-intensive tasks and mentally prepare for the day ahead. My company knows this and the team will often send me something and ask me to apply my “morning brain” to it.

Getting up early and taking care of all the big things on my plate helps me stay organized and efficient. My morning actually begins the night before. I’m most successful and productive when I identify my top one or two tasks before I go to bed around 11 p.m.

I’m up at 5 a.m. every morning (including weekends). I make a cup of coffee and tackle one to two high-intensity tasks. This might include reviewing some of the more in-depth content or thought-intensive projects the company has underway, including presentations, white papers, or data-crunching for financial presentations.

Around 6:45 a.m., I review my schedule for the day and paint a mental picture of where I need to be, by when, and what I need to accomplish before showing up. By 7 a.m., I change into gym clothes and take one to two calls on my walk to the train station. When possible, I use part of my morning commute to connect with my team in India. This could be a 30-minute update from the human resources team while walking 5,000 steps (which is tracked on my Fitbit). It could also be one-on-one conversations with some of our engineering and project leads. I consider these conversations to be more lightweight tasks, and so I don’t get distracted by adding in exercise while I’m in transit.

Around 8:15 a.m., you can find me working out at a gym in downtown San Francisco. By physically moving to another setting, I’m able to switch gears and I use the hour to clear my mind or think about a creative task, my personal life, or an upcoming project. By 9:30 a.m., I head to the office, ready for meetings, collaborative work, or to connect with customers or my teammates.

You should tackle your most challenging project the first thing in the morning. Waking up early and immediately launching into my highest-priority tasks sets me up for efficiency each and every day. I credit a lot of my success to date to this routine. If anything, it allows me the structure and flexibility to run my business in a way that works for me, my team, and our customers.

For entrepreneurs just getting started, this approach might be the jumpstart you need to step up your game. This way when the morning knocks, you can greet it with a smile and get going.

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