12 Morning Starters to Have a Productive Day at Work
Not all of our workdays are equally productive. In fact, as much as 89% of people have admitted that they waste time at work every day. Are you in the 11% that stays on track throughout the day, or do you need some extra motivation like most of us?
Productive day at work starts right in the morning. You could even say that the first two hours of your day are crucial to your daily work performance. Want to kick-start your day like a high-achiever? Follow at least 3 of these tips and see your productivity levels soar.
1. Start your day early
Think about it. If you woke up 1 hour earlier, you’d have five more hours every week to get ready for the upcoming day. While waking up earlier gives us time to reflect on our day and get fully prepared, waking up late demands that we rush to work and spend the rest of the day in a hurry.
There’s one more thing. Do not hit the snooze button. According to Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center, snoozing alarm confuses your body and brain, resulting in that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling called sleep inertia. To make the most of your day, set the alarm for the time that you need to get up and leave the pillow for good.
2. Arrive to work before everybody else
Have you ever been the first person to arrive at the office? You’ll be surrounded by a calm and pleasant atmosphere, the perfect set-up for productive work. A survey found that 63% of people feel the most productive in the morning, so take advantage of your well-rested brain and tap into creative or otherwise rigorous work.
Try to keep your mornings as calm and stress-free as possible and take the time to plan for the upcoming day.
3. Reflect on the past day
Take 15 minutes each morning to reflect on your past achievements as well as failures. Think about what you could do better the next time. This thought exercise will help to set the mood for the rest of the day and boosts confidence in all your actions. Simply think about your accomplishments and current projects, and what you need to accomplish today in light of it.
Answer these three questions: Where have you been? Where are you? Where are you going? By reflecting on our goals, we remind ourselves of the things that matter. After all, 20% of what we do results in 80% of our achievements (Pareto principle).
4. Review your to-do list
Instead of starting to work on the first task that comes to your mind, develop an organized mindset. Before you tap into work, take the time to plan and prioritize your projects and tasks. Go beyond creating a simple to-do list, and craft a realistic hierarchy of your projects and goals. Keep in mind the 20/80 principle!
Although it’s in our nature to postpone the most challenging and critical projects, you should do the opposite. To quote the time management guru Brian Tracy: “Eat that frog!”
What he wanted to say is that instead of following our intuition to leave the least pleasant tasks last, we should challenge ourselves to complete it first. After you’ve completed the most difficult task, the rest will seem a lot less demanding.
As our energy levels are at their peak in the morning, start your daily task list with three of the most critical tasks, and make these highest priority.
5. Take a pause and be present
It is incredibly easy to get caught up in busy office life and get derailed by your colleagues’ demands and coffee machine conversations.
The bad thing about getting distracted is that we lose control of our time, and let other people set the agenda. And there goes another productive day at work.
Try to turn off your senses and be in the present. Feel like you’re in control of the situation and take a pause before you start a busy day. Think about what you need to do and, if possible, empty your schedule.
Here comes the Golden Rule of productivity: LEARN TO SAY NO – to meetings, lunches, time-wasting tasks, conversations, and all other kinds of office distractions.
6. Visualize a successful day
Imagine you’ve survived another day at the office. What does it look like? How do you feel? Did you accomplish what you started?
By envisioning the outcome of the day’s tasks and projects, you can work backward to determine the necessary steps that lead to your desired results. Moreover, you’ll be highly motivated to stick to your plan and focus on activities that lead to the highest results.
7. Set your roadmap
Creating a to-do list is not going to improve your productivity unless you have time to implement it.
A Google employee suggested to their teammates to book “Make time” into the daily schedule. What he meant is that we all need a few undistracted hours to work on our most important projects and tasks.
You will not be able to find a two-hour time gap unless you schedule it to your calendar right in the morning. Take the time to assess if anything in your calendar needs changing or rearranging, and schedule some hours for serious work.
As you fill in your calendar, your colleagues can see that you’re busy, and you might even be able to avoid some pointless meetings.
Did you know that most employees attend 62 meetings each month and feel that more than half of that time is wasted? So be strategic about your time and make the best out of your undistracted work time.
8. Choose your working pace
Successful people rarely work for 4-5 hours without taking a pause. Instead, they set calculated time frames for work and rest. Decide on the length of time you want to work continuously, and then take a 10-minute break. For example, a widely popular Pomodoro technique suggests that we work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
Working in intervals helps you to stay focused and alert throughout the day, increases your productivity levels, and leads to higher achievements.
9. Organize your workspace
A simple morning productivity hack is to clean up your desk and organize your papers, files, as well as desktop. Not being able to find what you need is a huge time waster. So even if it takes a few minutes to bring order to your desk and computer, it is well worth the effort.
Make sure to place pens and paper to close reach in case you have a sudden idea that needs to be written down for later development. To have a productive day, you need to set aside irrelevant ideas as fast as possible.
10. Cut the distractions
It is so easy to get distracted while working that sometimes we can’t even remember how we ended up reading promotional emails or looking at a cute picture on Instagram.
The next step is to turn off notifications or leave your phone in the pocket of your coat. If you’re not aware of your emails, you’re less likely to check the inbox. According to Office Time, email is the number one time-waster in the office, with 43.5% respondents mentioning it.
Try to avoid low-priority calls, unnecessary and irrelevant meetings, chatty coworkers, social media, too much coffee, and other distractions.
11. Check email, but do it wisely
In the morning, productive people ignore email for as long as possible. Reading about other people’s inquiries, demands, and problems is likely to distract you from your daily schedule and plans. If you can’t help checking email the first thing in the morning, learn to do it more productively. Learn to apply the five D-s in your inbox management and use the “The 321Zero System by Kevin Kruse:
- Schedule three times a day to process your email (morning, noon, night).
- Set the timer on your phone for 21 minutes.
- Try to get to inbox zero at that time.
You probably see the point: spend as little time in your inbox as possible as it distracts you from actual work and permits others to set your schedule.
12. Put away negative thoughts
To focus on today’s work, you need to let go of yesterday’s failure. Studies show that negative thought affects not only our productivity but also long-term health.
Successful people don’t dwell on past events, the unpleasant morning commute, or negative thoughts. Learn to let go and focus entirely on future achievements.
You can’t change what’s already happened, so stop it from bringing you down. Instead, make way for new plans and productive workday.