By Kathryn Vasel
Always feel like there aren’t enough hours at the office to get everything done?
Maybe it’s time to change up your pre-work routine.
How you start your morning can set the tone for the rest of the day.
“If you start out with chaos, that is how the rest of the day is going to be,” said Peggy Duncan, a personal productivity expert. “But it can’t start in the morning, it needs to start before that.”
Productivity and workplace experts said a good night’s sleep is the first step toward performing at our best and having enough energy levels to be the most productive.
1. Prioritize your day
It’s time to get that endless to-do list that’s been running in your head onto to paper … or an app.
Start each morning by writing down everything you want to accomplish that day. Then prioritize the items as: critical (must be done in the next 24 hours), important (to be done in the next few days) or low priority (tasks that aren’t as time sensitive).
“This means they are putting their attention and focus on the most important things, so the work that needs to get done,” said productivity coach Ellen Faye.
Once you have a list of your must-dos, schedule your day in the most efficient way possible.
“Block your calendar with similar activities so your day flows better,” recommended Kathryn McKinnon, a time management expert. That means making all your phone calls at the same time and respond to emails in chunks.
To make your team more productive, a daily meeting can help get everyone on the same page with the day’s priorities — but make it quick.
“Take five to 10 minutes for a standing meeting in the morning,” suggested Faye. “Everyone gets a feel for the critical and urgent events of the day … but no one is getting comfortable. It is clear we are just discussing priorities for the day and then everyone gets to work.”
2. Eliminate mundane decisions and tasks
Streamlining your mornings can help reduce the frantic race around the house to get out the door on time.
Pick out your clothes, make your breakfast and lunch and get all your work stuff together the night before.
If setting out your clothes every night feels too rigid, there are other ways to make your morning routine more efficient.
For instance, Faye enjoys picking out her outfit every morning, but her sock drawer is full of one type of socks.
“I don’t have to think about it. I have 10 pairs of the exact same sock. They all match and I don’t waste any time.”
3. Designate pre-office work time
Reading email while brushing your teeth and checking to make sure your kids are getting dressed is a reality for many people. But it’s not efficient.
If you have to respond to work-related emails and phone calls before you get into the office, designate a time period to sit down and do just that.
“If you know your client or business needs you to be on email, schedule a half hour or an hour, whatever you need to protect the time,” advised Faye. “Don’t try to squeeze it in. Incorporate it in your routine.”
4. Take some ‘me’ time
Carve out some time to just focus on yourself.
Whether it’s working out, meditating, journaling or listening to calming music, do something just for you, experts advised.
“Give yourself that space before you get to work,” said McKinnon. “That way you aren’t going to feel resentful or angry. You are going to feel like you made time for yourself and feel good. You need that time for yourself to regroup and maintain your energy.”
Eating a balanced breakfast also helps set a productive tone every morning, she added.
“We are far more productive when we start with a nutritious breakfast. Protein is very important, and skip the empty calories that won’t sustain you until lunch. You need good nutrition to sustain energy.”
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