You can improve the quality of your workday by deciding what it is you want to accomplish. You’ve got to specifically identify the self-defeating behavior in your early morning routine and set about to change it. Let us take a look at the common scenarios and identify some problems.
- Small talks and social conversations in the lobby, in the elevator, at the coffee pot, in the ladies’ or men’s room, etc.
Although socializing is an undeniable part of work life, if it automatically and regularly occurs at the beginning of the day, chances are the socializing will get in the way of work that needs to be done.
- The mail
Even though you spam filter has done its job, it’s not likely to contain the most urgent and the most pressing items of the day, more so with snail mail letters. The habit of checking your mails first more often than not comes from a combination of childish curiosity and a desire to slide into the work routine in the least demanding way possible.
- Interrupting phone calls and text messages
Even more so than mail, unnecessary phone calls and text messaging distracts and steals time away from work.
- Chitchat with colleagues
This, most common interruption combines all of the problems of the above items with a double dose effect done by two or more people resulting to detriment of the task ahead. They come in the form of “important” dissemination of facts (office gossip) or “brightening up” someone else’s day (flirting).
- Coffee breaks
Coffee breaks are intended as a break from working productively. This is the appropriate time for socializing. However, if the worker hasn’t really begun working yet, it’s a different story.
Generally, the worker who is most productive can take full charge of his or her day. This is true because active, decisive responsibility is likely to be more productive than passive habitual response. Because of the nature and variety of work situations, every worker’s appropriation of these truths will be particular and personal. But general guidelines can be applied.
What do you have to do?
- Save the socializing for later.
Keep your greetings at the lobby, elevator, or washroom short and courteous. Your mind should be on your work and not to become involved in extended conversations at the beginning of the day.
- Start the day with a plan.
Before going at the end of the day’s work, the last task you should do is to arrange the next day’s schedule. Of course, there will be occasional emergency interruptions, but they will only be occasional, not daily.
- Spend the first hour on the most important task.
Devote the first hour of the workday to the accomplishment of an important task that needs to be done. Have your secretary or an assistant take all phone calls and handle other interruptions.
- Establish a phone policy.
We could work more efficiently if we devise and adhere to a “phone philosophy.” It would probably increase the productivity of workers in some specific company set-ups if this would even be a company-wide policy. You may also apply this as a single employee or in your own business set up. For example, you may inform your secretary or specify to your clients that you only accept calls at a specific time period, say 10 am – 5pm only. You may also use a different cell phone number for business and another one for family to separate the available calling hours.
One of the benefits that might result from this practice is that your business associates will respect you more. If they discover that you value your time enough to protect it, chances are they’ll begin to value it more highly, too.
Remember, also that answering the phone is a passive reaction, and not as productive as an intentional action.
- Make your coffee break an actual break.
This is your time for socializing. Even the most dedicated and disciplined worker’s attention span has limits. In the long run, it is just as counterproductive to attempt to conduct business nonstop for eight hours as it is to mix your professional and social life.
- Finish your day with a plan.
A productive worker always knows how to plan the next morning’s activity. At bare minimum, the next day’s most important item should be isolated and prepared.
Of course, no recipe, not even a general one, is suitable for each specific situation. Different individuals have different warm-up rates, and different jobs require different strategies.
For all of us, how we begin the day gives a significant impact on how we feel when the day is through.