The main character in Office Space, Peter, starts his work day this way after sneaking in 15 minutes late: “… I just sorta spaced out for about an hour.” While maybe not this extreme, many of us have morning rituals that involve sitting and checking email over a cup of coffee or tea while we try to prepare for the day ahead. Is this really the best way to begin the morning?
Whose Day Is It?
Many of us start our day by checking voicemails and emails. This starts our day in a way that is focused on others instead of on us. Starting by reading what other people need or want is a sure way to make sure that our priorities get missed while we spend the day addressing the priorities of other people. While there are times that we will need to react to what is going on at work, starting the day that way is a bad habit to have.
Plan of Attack
Instead of diving in to see what others want of us, why not start the day out by asking a simple question of yourself: What do I want to accomplish today? While that may seem almost simplistic, it can really help you to get your mind focused on the tasks of the work day that lay ahead.
Planning lets you actually take a minute to sort out the difference between things that might feel urgent (and aren’t) and things that are actual priorities for the work day.
Starting your day by prioritizing what you need to do instead of focusing on what others want you to do will help you determine where you can best focus your efforts during the day.
Create a Task List Daily Motivation
Now that you know what you want to do for the day, you need to sit down and create a list to prioritize what you plan on doing. If you plan on taking on a large project, break the project down into specific actions for your task list. That way, instead of having vague goals you actually have a list of things to do.
A good way to create your list is to start each task with a verb. This helps you to define what your action is going to be. Write the report, create the spreadsheet, collect data — all of those tasks are clear and give you the direction to get done what you need to be getting done.
Don’t be afraid to get specific. The greater the level of detail the more likely you will be to complete the task you are trying to accomplish. Looking at the list that you need to get done first thing will help to prevent you from putting it off until later or procrastinating until tomorrow.
Starting your day off with a plan can help you to remain focused through the day. Research shows our focus wanes as the day goes on, so to get your sense of accomplishment begin the day with a plan.