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The 14 Habits of Highly Organized People You Should Follow

These tips from organization experts will set you up for a goof-proof, productive morning.

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They Try to be the First One Up

Waking up 10 to 15 minutes before the rest of the house can be enough to make a difference, suggests founder and president of Supreme Organization, Jodie Watson, in an article on MyHomeIdeas.com. Getting those first few minutes to yourself before being pulled in a million directions really helps get a jump start on the day.

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They Don’t Check Their Cell Phone Immediately

“I recommend not keeping your cell phone in your bedroom when you go to sleep,” says Fay Wolf, author of New Order: A Decluttering Handbook For Creative Folks (And Everyone Else). When you immediately grab the phone as soon as you wake up, you can get lost in that black hole of emails, headlines, and social media posts that suck up those precious morning minutes. Instead, sit up in bed immediately upon waking, and take a few deep breaths for at least 30 seconds, suggests Wolf. “Every time I follow that principle I’m happier, and it’s an amazing alternative to picking up the phone.” Here are nine more tricks from really, really organized people.

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They Do a Few Things They Love (For Short Time Periods)

“I give myself the permission to do the things I want to do—like meditation, yoga, or music—in very small amounts of time in the morning, for five to 10 minutes,” says Wolf. She uses the free Insight timer for meditation and her phone timer or a yoga app when stretching so she stays accountable. For tasks she’s tackling later in the day, she’ll use Tomato-Timer.com to focus for 25 minutes.

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They Complete Tasks in the Same Order

This is as though you’re creating muscle memory for your chores, says blogger Casey Osmundson on PrettyOrganized.com. You probably follow an order when you brush your teeth or shower because they’re a habit. “It’s the same theory for the rest of your routine,” Osmundson says on the blog. “The more you practice completing a task, the less you’ll have to consciously think about each step. What once seemed like a challenge will soon feel more like second nature.”

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They Identify Three Things for a Successful Day

“Organized people think through their days,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. “At the beginning of the day, they ask, ‘What do I need to do to make this a good day? If nothing else happens, what three things would make me feel like the day was a success?’ Then they figure out when these things can be scheduled, including back-up slots, given that life [interruptions] will happen.” Plus: 50 organizing tips you’ll regret you didn’t know sooner.

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They Reply to Critical Emails

Once you’re sitting down and checking work or personal emails, be prepared to take some action at that time, such as responding to important ones, suggests Wolf. This way, they won’t weigh on your mind while you go about your other morning rituals.

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They Set Realistic Morning Goals

Add one thing at a time, and limit the number of tasks to be completed, suggests Watson on MyHomeIdeas.com. If you try to change everything all at once, you’ll burn out and want to quit before you’ve given yourself the chance to actually build the habit you want to stick with, she says. “Your routine should be the bare-bones basics that you need to complete to keep life running smoothly before you rush out the door. If you have other must-do tasks each day, think about how you can simplify or spread them out differently on your schedule.” Also check out these secret cleaning tips from the pros.

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They Prepare Food the Night Before

“I personally am now in the process of starting food prep… and it’s revolutionary and helpful to know what you’re going to eat each day,” says Wolf. Plan out what you’ll eat for breakfast or lunch the night before so you don’t waste time scrambling to prepare meals or pondering the contents of your fridge in the morning.

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They Tweak Their To-Do List

Many organization pros emphasize the importance of starting your to-do list the night before. Come morning, you can tweak it based on any emails or tasks that came onto your radar overnight. Your to-do list should be something you interact with all day. “Your list should be given the same weight as your as your email inbox or calendar,” says Wolf. She uses OmniFocus for its functionality, but says the app “Reminders” on your iPhone is a great task list app, as are Wunderlist or todoist.

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They ‘Eat That Frog’

Many of us have the Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The modern-day takeaway: Complete the task you don’t want to do first thing so you can have a productive day without it weighing on your mind. “It’s the best advice to get the hardest task done early,” says Wolf.

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They De-Clutter Key Areas of the House Before They Leave

“I love to come home to a cleared off kitchen table, couch, and cleared out sink,” says Wolf. “Those are the three main areas of my home that makes me feel that I can do whatever work I have to when I get home, I can relax on the couch, or I can interact with foods without having to do dishes when I return,” she says. Streamline whatever you can at home before you walk out the door so you return to a cleaner environment later. Plus: 18 clever storage ideas for hard-to-store stuff.