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The beginning of your workday is an important indicator of how the entire day is going to look. Your first hour at work is a crucial time for you to set the pace of your workday without being overwhelmed by it. Productive people put certain practices in place that help them plan their work for the day and stay focused towards their goals. These are extremely simple things they do every single day.

1. They step back and reflect

The first thing successful and productive people do is take a step back. Instead of jumping straight to work like most people do, productive people look at how the past week or month has gone. They question and analyze what worked and didn’t work. This helps them chart their path better.


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2. They strategize

Productive people believe in being prepared because preparation helps get work done and done faster. They have a strategy for their long term goals and they spend time at the start of the day to think about where their career or business should be going.


3. They get comfortable

When you want to be your productive best, every little detail matters. Highly productive people take a minute at the beginning of the workday to make sure their chair is adjusted properly and the items they frequently access – keyboard, phone, computer mouse – are all within comfortable reach.


4. They check their to-do lists and calendars

To-do lists give a view of how the day is going to look like. This is the time productive people use to design their day and make any changes in schedules or other plans for the day. It also keeps helps visualize what roadblocks might crop up so they can adapt accordingly.


5. They plan for tough projects

While most people tend to get the easy tasks out of the way, productive people attack the tough ones first so they don’t hang over their head all day. Their task list would have the most difficult tasks right on top and planning how to get them done is their top priority.


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6. They take time to greet their team

Productive people, especially those in leadership positions, take the time to greet their teams. This shows compassion and builds rapport with the team. It also sets an example to the team and encourages interaction among them. Being friendly first thing in the morning makes the workplace more pleasant for everyone.


7. They avoid conflict situations

If there is conflict that needs to be resolved with your boss or peers, doing it first thing in the morning is not the best time for it. Productive people postpone ‘people conflict’ to a later time when people have settled in, ideally doing it after lunch. This allows for more meaningful conversations and faster resolutions.


8. They set a goal for the day

Productive people always have a goal they work towards. A daily goal helps them distinguish between tasks that merely feel urgent and those which are truly important. So no matter how busy they get, they know that they need to achieve that one goal they’ve set. It also helps them answer the important question: What have I achieved today?


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9. They strategically check e-mail

E-mail is one of the most time-wasting activities in your daily routine. Whether it’s the 80/20 rule or the 2-minute rule, productive people always have a strategy to check, sort and reply to emails. The aim is to get e-mail out of the way to focus on real work.


10. They write something that requires thought

Writing requires discipline, and research shows that willpower is at its peak early in the day, after a good breakfast. The first hour of the work day can be a great time to write a well-crafted e-mail introducing yourself to a new client, a proposal or report, or marketing materials for the team.

Distractions don’t spare anyone. Low priority calls, unnecessary meetings, chatty co-workers, new incoming e-mails or texts, social media or other low priority notifications; productive people know when to ‘unplug’ so they can focus on getting work done.

Successful individuals understand the importance of creating a few minutes of peace before jumping in. Taking a moment to stretch and breathe will help you make better decisions during the rest of the day.