What is the first thing you do everyday when you sit down at your desk and get your workday started? One thing I try to avoid first thing is getting into my email inbox.
It been said that it matters because it sets the whole tone of your day. Most productivity experts, freelancers, online entrepreneurs and other solo workers who need to make each minute count agree with that idea. Among them, it’s a bit of common wisdom. For me personally, I’ve always found this to be true! If I spend my first minutes burying myself in email and other people priorities, the rest of the day feels like I’m putting out fires.
This is something you should consider because by thinking about it, you can take control of it. What is the right way to get started? It can differ from one person to another, but here are some ideas gathered from the experts.
Many decide to start the day by checking email. They make the first few minutes at their desk communication time. This can useful because it helps you decide which tasks need to be done today and which are most urgent, but it can also become a time-waster that makes your whole day run late. Two ways to avoid this are to:
- Wait about an hour before checking your email and deal with only communications that are work-related. Ignore personal emails for now or create a separate business email account if you don’t already have one. Use that first hour to review your plans for the day that you set up the night before and take care of something that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Work on something you’ve been procrastinating or put in some time on a larger project that needs steady progress.
- Save replies for later. When you check your email, you don’t necessarily have to reply. Short replies are okay, but if you have a lengthy message you have to write, make this one of your daily tasks and prioritize accordingly.
It’s probably best to stay off social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, even though those are communication channels. Since these can be distracting, it’s better to create a separate social media time during your day.
Your List of Things to Do
It makes sense to create a list of things to do and prioritize this list first. But that’s not always the best approach. You may find it easier to sit down at the end of each day and create the next day’s list of things to do. This way, you can get started on your list of tasks first thing, rather than have to create it.
Create a Starting Work Ritual
As you sit down to work, you may want to create a ritual that gets you into the zone to be productive. Some freelancers call this ‘preparing for battle.’ The goal is to get you into the mindset for work. You can do this through meditation, music, a review of your work goals, a review of yesterday’s achievements or anything else you think would motivate you and get you into the proper mood. I keep Spotify open and will often listen to instrumental music that is relaxing and not distracting.
Give some thought to how you start your work day and ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to make it smoother and more productive for you.