When you’re the boss, it can be easy to let your workday become unstructured: but the first ten minutes of your day can set the tone for the rest of it.
To make sure you start off on the right foot, here are eight methods you can use to ensure your day is the most productive it can be.
Even if you’re just working from home, ensure you have a set start hour. This will ensure your mind is in the right frame to focus: brains love routine.
It’s also important to have a set finishing time: if you start each day with the feeling of infinite work ahead, you’ll struggle to find the motivation and energy you’ll need.
Studies have shown that cortisol, a hormone which regulates energy, is at its peak between eight and nine am. If you drink coffee during that time your body will produce less cortisol: meaning you’ll end up sleepier, and dependent on coffee for energy for the rest of the day.
So if you need your coffee fix, save it for 10am.
You don’t need to create a minute-by-minute run through of how your day will progress, but you do need to be aware of which tasks need to be completed, how they should be prioritized, and how you can best maximize the time you have.
This will also give you something to tick off as your progress through your day: meaning you’ll stay on top of your work and feel satisfaction as the hours tick by.
Your energy levels will drop throughout the day, so get your most important tasks done first: even if they’re difficult. Otherwise, you’ll be less energized when you tackle them, and you’ll have them hanging over your head all day.
It can be easy to fall into an hour-long email trap at the beginning of each day, but it’s not the best way to maximize your time.
Instead, spend a few minutes scanning through your emails before you answer them: that way you’ll know which ones are the most important and which ones you can slot in later after your other must-do’s have been done.
If you have important meetings it can be tempting to plan them for the beginning of the day, but early meetings could be a waste of your cognitive resources.
As we have the most mental energy early in the day, our first few hours of work should be spent focusing on detail rich tasks such as writing.
Unless your meetings involve a large amount of organizing or energy, they’re best to save until later in the day.
Speaking of cognitive resources, it’s easy to overestimate them when we’re fresh in the morning. Having bundles of energy from a night of sleep can leave us tempted to tackle many things at once: but studies have shown that multitasking can damage our performance.
Instead, focus on completing just one task at a time, especially in the morning.
Any light (natural or artificial) is good light in the morning. Studies have shown bright light early in the day helps reduce agitation and depression and improves quality of sleep.
If possible, open your blinds in the morning, and work somewhere that’s well lit.
Some small habits and changes can help you thrive in your everyday work life. What are your favourite ways to start your day off well?
- Lena Klein