There are literally hundreds of tips out there designed to help get your day off to the right start. From meditation, to exercise, to a protein-rich breakfast, there is certainly no shortage of advice. We’ve all been there – we set these intentions for ourselves, stick to the plan for a week or so, then slowly revert back to our old habits and routines, hitting the snooze button each day.
One way that is guaranteed to work and ensure you start off on the front foot is this: write out your to-do list the night before, and, prior to 11am the next day, make it your mission to have completed your least enjoyed list items. This can include anything – if you hate exercising, put it on the list, and do it before 11. How about that email you owe your client from two days ago? Yes, it’s hard, and yes, you don’t know the answer to his question, but again, prioritise it before 11am, knuckle down, and get it out of the way.
So, why does this work? Getting rid of our least desired tasks earlier on in the day frees up our lunch breaks and remainder of the day for activities we do enjoy: reading the newspaper, visiting our favourite blogs, meeting friends for coffee, or simply getting on with normal work. With your annoying, nagging tasks ticked off, you can launch yourself into the fun and/or less demanding things with vigour, with the added bonus that you have earned them.
Tim Ferris, author of best selling book, The Four Hour Work Week, never checks his email before 11am. His theory is that you already have a set to-do list for that day, and emails from the night before and early morning only serve to distract and interrupt those things you actually need to get done. This idea incites fear in many people: what happens if someone emails me something urgent? What if I miss something really important? If this worries you, try Tim’s theory out for a week to see what happens. Be honest, if something really is urgent, you still have a phone – people can still contact you that way. Plus, you will be checking your email at 11am anyway, so not much is lost in the process.
If you spend your mornings procrastinating, wasting time by reading the paper and dragging out your morning coffees, stop yourself from now on and focus on those core tasks that need to get done. Not only will you feel more organised physically, but the head space this creates mentally leaves more room for you to focus on pursuits that interest you. If nothing else, it will clear a path in your day to plod along with other, less pressing, projects.
For more productivity tips, check out The Four Hour Work Week here.