We’ve all seen the ‘day in my life’ posts or videos, where we are led to believe that simply everyone, who’s got their life together, manages to find the time to de-seed a pomegranate, throw down some yoga moves and practise mindfulness all before the sun has really risen. Urgh.
Meanwhile, in reality town, your day starts at 100mph and you’re patting yourself on the back if you don’t BCC the wrong person into an email before you’ve been properly caffeinated.
This post is for you, my people. The doers, who have a list as long as their arm of things to get done, with no extra time.
(Of course, time is just a human construct we all accept and buy into, but when your client would rather your project was handed in at the concept of time they know as 10am, then you may need some tips to maximise your output.)
So – the 5 things to do before 9.30am.
Write your actual ‘no wishful thinking’ to-do list
It could be in Trello, paper, or on your iPhone app. There’s nothing like a to-do list to say ‘I’ve got this.’ The first lesson in moving away from chaos and disorder to Zen is accepting reality when you write your list. Will you really be carving out time today to call the bank or donate blood? Can you genuinely see yourself ticking that off or is that a wishful thought with no grounding in today’s rainy weather/ slight hangover/ whiff of apathy? If you can’t – throw it to another list. This is why you should never trust a to-do list you wrote yesterday – write it today and make sure the only things on it are things you know that the ‘you’ you are today can and should handle.
Dive into your inbox like a banshee
I once heard some good advice which was “don’t touch things twice.” Whilst this sounds like a warning you get to keep you away from someone’s ex-boyfriend, you learn that at work, touching things twice is the biggest time sink going. Imagine coming in and throwing your coat on the floor. At some point, you will have to pick it up. Moving it to its right place is a great way to make tidying something natural. The same goes for your work emails, which left untended, can grow wild and unkempt. Before 9:30 you should have yesterday’s residual emails under control – either on your to-do list or moved to a later date. You can use labels to make at-a-glance categories. This saves time re-reading the same stuff and worrying you’ve missed something.
Also, make it your mission to do as much ‘in house’ admin as possible at the start of the day. Get the emails out asking for paperwork, help, data – whatever you need – and sit back. You will probably be reacting through the day, so make time in the morning to get your requests for help in with other people.
Sprint through your awful work
We’re humans and we have to really train our minds to stop them being so easily distracted. Look – a squirrel! We all put off the rubbish tasks and can think of some great other tasks to be doing than calling that evil client or processing that invoice. I advocate assigning dreadful tasks to a 9am-9:30am sprint. That nasty report. Having to pay a huge bill, sending an email to a 500,000 size database. Do it as soon as possible and you’ll be set up to continue your day without the cold hands of dread on your neck.
View the outside world
By viewing the outside world, I don’t mean squirrels (ooh – another squirrel!) or trees. I mean the basics. Check your own website and scan your competitors’ sites. You are looking for bugs, promos and glitches. You would be surprised how often you don’t check and then something has gone kaput in the night. You might also want to set up Google alerts for your brand name or sector. Take a look at trending topics on Twitter, and scan the news, both national and sector specific. You’ll go into the day well informed and never have to say ‘No…Haven’t seen that yet”.
Make tea for everyone (or yourself)
Finally – a hint from around 15 years of working – everyone remembers the first tea of the day. Want to be the office superstar? Be quick to make one for everyone first thing. After this, you can get stuck into your work and accept teas in the tea round. Don’t think you are too big or clever to make a brew! And of course, if you work solo – treat yourself to one as well. You’ve made it through the grizzly part of the day – from 9:30am it’s onwards and upwards!
About the Author:
Elaine is an experienced copywriter and marketer with over 8 years in the industry. She sells a variety of hourlies helping with content on topics like marketing, direct mail, email marketing and much more. Hire Elaine on PeoplePerHour.
Want to contribute to PeoplePerHour blog? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!