Admit it. The first thing you do every work day is check your email, right? If so, you are making a huge productivity mistake.
Beginning your work day reviewing your email sets you on a reactive tone for the rest of the day. The truth behind why you feel compelled to scroll through your email is that you are afraid you have missed something important. This is the very definition of being reactive instead of proactive.
The first half hour of your day sets the tone for the remainder of it. Start practicing these three habits with the first thirty minutes of your day and you will find yourself leaning into your work and defining it, instead of the incessant demands defining you.
1. Review Your To Do List – the most productive leaders keep all of their to do items catalogued in one place (personally, I am a huge fan of OmniFocus). After settling in at your desk with a cup of coffee, review your list and get a picture of the entirety of the work before you. Don’t let this review overwhelm you. Instead, prioritize items and catch important tasks you have overlooked.
2. Decide Today’s Priorities – determine what things absolutely must be done by the end of the day. Do not allow the urgent to take priority over the most important.
3. Eat the Frog for Breakfast – after settling on your most important tasks, choose the most difficult or the one you most procrastinate. Gather all you need to start your day so you can eat that ugly toad first. This will set your confidence for the rest of the day knowing you are in control of your schedule instead of the other way around.
Believe me, the world can live without your immediate attention for the first 30 minutes of your day while you lean in to your work. The paradox is that in so doing you will spend less of your time firefighting and more time accomplishing your highest priorities.