Posted by Barb Jemmott on Thursday, February 13, 2014 with No comments
The First Minutes Count MostThey say the first thing you do every day when you sit down at your desk matter because it sets the whole tone of your day. Who are 'they'? ‘They’ means productivity experts, freelancers, consultants and other workers who need to make each minute count. Among a lot of people, it's considered a bit of common wisdom.
By taking control of setting your priorities and managing your time your get to take your productivity to the next level. In those first minutes of your day you get to decide what will make you successful that day. You get to focus on what’s really important and also what is the “busy” work for the day – and you get to plan a space to get those things done. What is the right way to get started? It differs from one person to another, but here are some ideas from the experts.
Focus on Your PrioritiesMake a list of the things that need to be accomplished today (most people have success by creating the list the night before and actually doing the work the next day). Break larger items into manageable pieces then block off time in your calendar to work on each item. These are your priorities today. You’ve decided that these are important. Make time for getting these things done in your day. Don’t forget to leave room in your day for interruptions and be realistic about what you can get done.
Many decide to start the day by checking email. They make the first few minutes at their desk communication time. Let’s rework this thought process by recognizing the impact of starting your day checking email. The first thing to consider is the purpose of the inbox.
What is the inbox really? Well, it’s actually the accumulated wish list of everyone with your email address. It bears little resemblance to what your priorities are that day but can direct or distract you from what you should be doing.
By starting your day here (with no control as to what the requests are) you could find that you’ve just spend 2 hours fighting imaginary fires, taking your attention away from creating that key client work you should be working on. Now you find yourself experiencing some stress getting that important work done. Focus on your priorities for the day and set aside time to visit your inbox throughout the day. Resolve to stay within a set amount of time when looking at email, let’s say 20 minutes, three times a day when you will focus on just that task and touch each email as little as possible. That means make a decision about each email and take the action you need. Your inbox is not your ToDo List. Don’t treat it as such! Your Inbox is important; it’s just not the most important thing in your day (unless that’s your job).
Two ways to make this focused inbox time more productive are to:
- Make the most of the mailbox tools and actions that help you resolve the items in your inbox. Use a method (like the five-point method) to manage everything.
- Resolve to touch each email as little as possible. If you open that email you need to make a decision about it. Then follow through with action (as in something like the 5-point method).
It's probably best to stay off social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, even though those are communication channels. Since these can be distracting, it's better to create a separate social media time during your day.
Your List of Things to Do
It makes sense to create a list of things to do and prioritize this list first. But that's not always the best approach. As mentioned earlier, you may find it easier to sit down at the end of each day and create the next day's list of things to do. This way, you can get started on your list of tasks first thing, rather than have to create it.
Create a “Start Work” Ritual
As you sit down to work, you may want to create a ritual that gets you into the zone to be productive. The goal is to get you into the mindset for work. You can do this through meditation, music, a review of your work goals, a review of yesterday's achievements or anything else you think would motivate you and get you into the proper mood.
Give some thought to how you start your work day and ask yourself if there's anything you can do to make it smoother and more productive for you.
image credit: sparkpeople.com