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First Things First: What To Do In The First 5 Minutes Of The Day

July 12, 2016

Wanting to squeeze as much productivity as possible out of every day? We have some words of wisdom, starting with Ben Franklin’s quote: “Well begun is half done.” As he understood, getting your day off to the right start can make all the difference in how it turns out. Here are some suggested tasks to try in your first five minutes that can help ensure a successful day.

1. Say ‘hi.’
Start off the day on a positive note with team members by greeting them first thing in the morning. (Yes, even on Mondays.) This is especially crucial for leaders, but it is a good practice regardless of your role. Being friendly in the morning sets a tone for the day and makes the work environment more pleasant and productive for everyone.

2. Huddle up.
Football teams use them all the time to ensure they’re on the same page. Why not your business? By keeping them quick and informal, they’re a great way for everyone to state their goals for the day and for leaders to briefly talk to their team about priorities. Working virtually? It can even be done through a videoconference or group chat.

3. Ask “What will I accomplish today?”
Make a plan before distractions strike. Ask “what’s the status of my projects? What do I need to achieve today as a result?” Write down three concrete action items to do. At the end of the day, ask “what did I accomplish today?” And be honest with your answers.

4. Plan for the tough work.
Difficult projects are rarely fun, but they have to get done no matter what. To prevent yours from haunting you all day, outline a plan for attacking these tough projects first. (Preferably during #3 above.) Make a list of first steps and action items to make getting started easier.

5. Organize the day.
Again, this fits in nicely with #3. Start your day by taking a critical look at the calendar. Reorganize it based on what needs to be accomplished that day, making sure to schedule heads-down work time during your most naturally productive working hours.

6. Clean off the desk.
Nothing beats a clean slate, both figuratively and literally. Consider cleaning your desk as the physical act of clearing your mind—perfectly setting the stage for that day’s projects. Throw away trash, file old papers, and remove from new ones not relevant to the day’s tasks. Take out digital trash as well—including the email inbox.

7. Send urgent emails.
As we all know, email can often be a huge time waster. An exception to this is sending urgent emails. Since it’s usually best to reach someone first thing in the morning, make a list of what needs to be sent, logon to email, hit send, and log off.

8. Have a cookie.
This is solid advice any time of the day. But it’s important to pay attention to your mood since it has a profound impact on work quality and productivity. Feeling a little grumpy or sluggish? Take little actions right away to improve your mood when feeling down.

9. Quiet time.
Ahh, the sounds of silence. Use solitude first thing in the morning to assess the bigger picture of your day. Reflect on where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going. Also ask questions like “what will give me joy today? What am I excited about accomplishing today? Who needs my help today?”

Get the gist? Good! Ben Franklin would be so proud. Now, one last question: how will you spend the first five minutes of your day tomorrow?

[image: TRAX Red Line to Daybreak by vxla on flickr]

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