Last week, I woke up late. I fell out of bed, got dressed, and ran outside to hail a cab in the pouring rain. I was the girl running through puddles while stuffing phone, wallet, and breakfast into her purse. I put my makeup on in the back of a cab, because that was my Monday. Those are the days I stop and say to myself, “Girl, you need to get it together.”
Most people have a vision of what it looks like to have their business in order, because everyone knows at least one of “that girl.” The girl who strolls into work early, has a smile on her face, and knows what’s going on in the world. I’m a big proponent of the mantra: “Fake it till you make it.” I recently heard a different version that, while it doesn’t have the same ring, probably sums it up better: “Fake it till you become it.” Getting it together probably won’t happen overnight (please, I know myself better than that), but you can take baby steps toward it every day while avoiding putting contacts in while sitting in the back of a cab.
Wake up early
I think people who exercise in the morning are magical gods and goddesses who possess powers beyond my wildest dreams. Your bed is calling, and sticking two toes out into the world from under the warmth of your sheets feels like a nightmare. However, going for a run or doing living room yoga, taking a relaxing shower, and making breakfast before heading out to greet the day is the equivalent to drinking a gallon of coffee when it comes to happiness and productivity. Get up when the birds do—you will thank yourself.
Quick Tip: Waking up in the middle of a pleasant REM sleep cycle can make an early morning feel like torture. Sleep Time, an app available on the iPhone, is an alarm clock that monitors your sleep cycles and wakes you up at just the right time, leaving you much more refreshed, even on the earliest of days.
Read anything you can get your hands on
Read blogs, articles, newspapers, or anything else. Browse your RSS feed over breakfast will help wake up your brain. It will also get you well acquainted with good writing and will allow you to identify thought leaders within your space. Blogs aren’t just for 2 a.m. Ben and Jerry’s-fueled venting sessions anymore. Professionals now use them to share career advice and analysis of industry events.
Quick Tip: Bloglines is an easy-to-use news aggregator. Follow industry blogs, career blogs, and blogs just for the sake of entertainment. My favorites are Your Coffee Break, Career Goddess, Secrets of the Job Hunt, and Joy the Baker.
Follow current events
You don’t have to pour through every article of The New York Times, but if someone in the break room mentions the headline of the day, you should probably what they’re talking about. I’m talking to you, Ms. What-Is-Syria. Be a conscious citizen of the world and know what’s going on in Turkey.
Quick Tip: The Skimm is a current events newsletter that delivers the most up-to-date news right to your inbox every Monday through Friday. Check it during your commute to work or right when you get in the office for a quick five minute update on what the rest of the world is up to.
Participate in the conversation
Twitter is an excellent tool for thought leadership. Share an interesting article you read earlier in the day and, with a click of the Twitterbutton, you have immediately connected with hundreds or thousands of people with similar interests. If you are interested in social media, tweet a link to a recent study about SEO. If you are interested in social enterprise, post about what Warby Parker is up to. Don’t be shy—Twitter is all about the conversation.
Quick Tip: Tweet at everyone—companies you frequent, products you use, and publications you read. Read an awesome Huffington Post article this morning? Tweet about it, and tweet at @HuffingtonPost and the journalist who wrote the article. That’s how to get your name out there on the Twittersphere.
Let’s be real—no one really has it together. However, feeling good about your body and mind can help you put your best professional-selfout there every time you go to the office. Even “that girl” has slept-late-crazy-hair-frazzled-mess days, and it’s up to you to embrace those days and let those days happen. It’s okay to be a hot mess sometimes, but we owe it to ourselves to fake it until we become it.