The First Hour of Your Day
Who doesn’t want more productivity out of their day? What’s the first thing you do when you get started each morning? For many of us, it’s a rush to the PC to check email, which leads to immediately getting bogged down in routine and “have to do” tasks.
The problem with this is that the next thing you know, it’s lunch time and you don’t feel like you’ve gotten anything done. Each of us has our own morning routine and you should take some time to create your own so that it benefits you.
The first hour of your day is important as it sets the tone for everything that comes after. It’s a good time to deal with matters that most require our focused thinking and problem solving. Here are tips on how to make the best use of your first hour of the day.
Coffee is great for waking you up and helping you focus, but your brain needs food. Even if it’s just a cup of yogurt or a banana, eat something before you even start thinking about work. You’ve gone 8+ hours without food. You’ll be unable to focus and think clearly on an empty stomach.
Don’t Start with the Inbox
Far too many people start with their email inbox. Do you know how many messages you respond to per day? It could be well over a hundred. Your email inbox is a clutter of different conversations going on at the same time. Starting by tackling all this chatter is likely to make you feel drained by the time your first hour of work is over.
Of course, emails need your response. But rather than going through and splitting your focus and attention on whatever comes next, a better strategy is to glance at emails and decide what needs to be done fast. Then, tackle each issue by issue, when you’re dealing with that particular issue.
Look at the Big Picture
The first hour of your day is a good time for looking at the big picture before you get started on the fine details. To have more productivity, look at your calendar and think about what’s happening in the coming weeks or months. Review what’s most important and touch on your values and goals.
With the big picture in mind, it’s much easier to decide what needs to be done today and what should be done first.
Make a To Do List
If you really want to control your time for the day, create a to-do list with a time set for each item. Use a timer to stick to the times you set. Another way to manage your to-do list is to decide on a milestone for each task. You may have several projects going at the same time.
Choose a reasonable and productive stopping point for each so that you make sure you get the other things done.
More Productivity? Do Something Fun
You may want to start your day with something not at all work-related. For example, set aside 20 minutes to indulge in a hobby. This allows you to wake up and start the day in a good, relaxed mood. You may feel less harried than you would starting to work directly.
For the same reason, some people choose to start the day with some light exercise, meditation or a walk.
What Works for Your First Hour?
Try out a few different ideas for the first hour of your day and take notice of how it affects you. You might want to keep a journal or jot down some notes. Notice how your energy levels feel throughout the day and whether you have any stress. Once you find a morning routine that works to get you started and productive, put it into practice.