By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
Some days, going to work can be a struggle. Clearing your headspace at the start of the workday is crucial to sharpening your cognitive senses and making the most of the day ahead. Just like your nightly routine of brushing your teeth, charging your devices and reading a book sets you up for a restful night of sleep, having a consistent morning ritual when you get to work lays the framework for a productive day.
DON’T JUMP STRAIGHT INTO YOUR WORK
It’s easy to want to jump right into your workload by immediately plugging in and checking email, but refraining from screen time during these first ten minutes is crucial. Once you get to your desk, silence your phone, close your laptop and shut the door. Using stimulating electronics can send you down the rabbit hole before you’re ready to get started — not to mention the long-term effects on your brain. Instead, put pen to paper. Highlight the main things that are top priority, write them down and place that note somewhere in direct view so that it can’t escape your attention.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TO-DO'S
Next, make a list of tier two priorities. Think of these as those priorities that you would like to get done during the day, but don’t necessarily need to be completed to consider your day successful! It’s good to go ahead and write these things down as well, but don’t bind yourself to finish non-priority tasks. Long lists of tasks are much more daunting and hard to tackle so don’t measure your success by these tier two priorities. One study found that regardless of rank on the priority ladder, writing a goal down makes achievement 42 percent more likely. Plus, we all know how fun it is to check something off the to-do list!
If you get to the end of the day and you have started or completed just couple things on that list, consider it a success! You can always reference your tier two list when writing out the next day’s priorities. This way you don’t lose track of anything, and you get the most important things done first. Pushing the non-highlighted items to tomorrow is better than worrying about getting them all done collectively today.
BUDGET TIME WISELY, BUT BE FLEXIBLE
Next, write out a tentative schedule. Broadly outline how you want to allocate your time in the workday. This might include one hour of research, one hour of brainstorming for new clients and two hours of working on a proposal. Committing yourself to a set amount of time is especially helpful if you are having trouble starting a big project.
It’s easy to alter this plan throughout the day; you can ditch it if you get burned out on a subject or when you go overtime, but committing yourself to spending your time the way you originally indented helps boost creativity and prevents you from wasting time. If you're particularly bad at this, try setting the alarm on your phone — but make sure the ring is a pleasant reminder (i.e., an upbeat song) and not an annoying disruption (i.e., a duck quack). This could add a bit of unconscious pleasantry to your new structure.
Practicing mindfulness in this way also brings you to the present and allows you to only focus on what you can do at that very moment, putting the rest of your duties in a box for you to open when the time is right. For tips on achieving optimal workflow, check out this article. Writing a time down on paper makes it more likely that you will stick to your plan because it enhances your sense of ownership to your duties. Remember to include a set time for lunch and breaks as breaks aid creativity.
When you start feeling pangs of anxiety or frustration, it might seem like pushing through is your best bet. Wrong! In fact, the opposite is true. Rest and relaxation are vital tools that our bodies need to perform optionally — even when they come in the form of a short five-minute walk or a quick trip to grab a smoothie. Work smarter — not longer!
DON’T THINK TOO HARD
Finally, budget a couple minutes to do something nourishing that is entirely non-work related! While meditation and physical exercise are excellent methods, the idea is to get your brain off of all things work-related. No matter how busy your agenda is, do something small in these ten minutes to treat yourself. Light a candle, enjoy a latte, listen to some tunes or even watch a funny cat video. By indulging in these micro luxuries, you feel a little more nourished and ready to tackle what lies ahead.
If you start with an empowering routine — no matter how small — commit to it, stick with it, and your workday productivity will increase. As time goes on, your first 10 minutes will gradually become the best part of your day if you utilize it correctly. Future you will be thanking past you for setting up your day for success!