What to do With the First Hour of Your Workday: Do's and Don'ts
Let’s face it: None of us ever get to work in the morning wondering how we’re going to fill the day. In fact, most of us have so much on our plate that getting everything done can seem like a herculean task. But the truth is that how you start your day can have a significant impact on what you accomplish during the day. Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind:
- Don’t start with email. So many of us begin the day in our inboxes — but that’s not conducive to a good start. Research by The Radicati Group shows that on average, business people will send and receive 129 emails each per day by December 2019. Even if you only handle half that number of messages, it’s a lot of different conversations to deal with. So when you set out to empty your inbox first thing in the morning, it’s likely to deplete your mental energy. Instead, block off three or four times during the day for emails.
- Do work on a task that requires a lot of focus. In her Business Insider article titled “Here’s how to spend the first hour of the workday for maximum productivity,” author Shana Lebowitz interviews productivity expert Laura Vanderkam. Vanderkam advises planning in a “power hour” at the beginning of the day to work on a challenging or important project. This allows you to make the best use of your mental energy, which is at its highest during the first two hours after waking.
- Don’t finish up small tasks. If you have a lot of small tasks that require a bit of work to complete, it might be tempting to get to work on them and check them off your to-do list one by one. However, you’re often better served by using your rested mind to handle more difficult or pressing tasks instead. You can still finish the smaller tasks by scheduling them intermittently throughout the workday or doing them at the end of the day.
- Do organize the rest of the day. If you don’t currently have a challenging or time-sensitive project on your shoulders, use the first hour of the morning to review what you need to accomplish that day. Then make a schedule that enables you to do just that without overburdening yourself.
The first hour of the workday sets the tone for the rest of the day. Plan to use it purposefully, and you’ll see how it can have a positive impact on how productive you are throughout the rest of the day.