There’s a simple way to get more done: You match your most important tasks to your most productive time. For many of us, mornings are it.
A recent survey done by Timeful, a scheduling app, and famed behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely, found that more than 60% of respondents claimed their most productive time occurred during various windows between 6 a.m. and noon.
So if you make the most of the first hour of your workday, you can get more done before your mid-morning break than most people do all day. Here’s how to rock this time and start the day right:
People waste that precious first hour of the workday because they haven’t figured out what actually needs to happen. Before you leave the office each evening, look at your meeting schedule, and write down your top three priorities for the next day. Pick one to knock out before 10 a.m. That way, when you show up, there’s no dithering. You know what to do when you’re focused enough to do it.
Your workplace will be quieter and you can squirrel yourself away to tackle important stuff. If most people get in around 9 a.m., coming in at 8 a.m. gives you time to work and then lets you say hello to people as they come in. You’re social and productive, which is the best of both worlds.
Did you skip breakfast? You’ll be hankering for donuts before you’ve gotten anything done. Keep some fruit and string cheese or yogurt in your office fridge and fuel yourself that way instead.
Mid-afternoon is a better time for checking headlines and reading industry blogs, since these activities don’t require much mental energy. Use what would be news-gathering time to get yourself in the frame of mind to be productive. Take two minutes to read something motivational, or just close your eyes to center yourself.
You know you should Never Check Email in the Morning, and yet you know almost all of us do.
Here’s a compromise: Give it a glance (maybe on your phone at home, or in the elevator on the way up) but don’t respond unless your job is on the line.
You have all day to deal with the incoming barrage, and if you allow yourself to get sucked in to formulating replies, you may exhaust your ability to focus before you’ve even gotten to your to-do list. Same with voice mail; it can probably wait.
Set a timer if you’d like and dive in to the work you’ve chosen to do. Progress is motivational, and seeing small wins add up can inspire you to keep going, even after that morning burst of energy is gone.