The First Four Things You Should Do for a Productive Workday

I recently got to work an hour early. I had one goal in mind: world domination early morning productivity. I made coffee, opened my email inbox, and the next thing I knew…it was noon. Where did the day go? And, more importantly, why didn’t I get anything substantive done? Sure, I cleared out my inbox, but I didn’t tackle a thing on my to-do list. After my lackluster morning, I decided to do some research and really figure out the right way to spend the first hour of my workday. And after a little practice, I learned just how productive one can be when you’re thoughtful about this. So grab some coffee and start make these four things a staple in your morning work routine for a productive workday.

The First Four Things You Should Do for a Productive Workday

How to Have a Productive Workday

1. Eat the Frog:

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing it can’t get any worse. That doesn’t mean you have to go and switch your soy latte for a frog—it simply means you should do your most important assignment first. Studies have shown that you have the most willpower in the morning, so harness your motivation mojo and master your most important task bright and early.

2. Scan for Red Flags:

Productivity experts recommend that you not spend your morning reading and answering emails (as I learned first-hand, it can totally derail your good AM intentions). Focus your morning on what you need to get done—not the little things people need from you. Quickly scan your emails to see if there is anything high-priority that will affect your goals for the day, then keep the trains moving. As Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check Email in the Morning, told The Huffington Post, “Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless…there is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.” So, if you want to be more productive throughout your day, step away from your inbox in the morning. Seriously.

3. Rally Your To-Do List: 

Organizing your to-do list might sound like yet another thing to add to your to-do list, but doing so is like creating a compass to get you to that golden “closing time” hour. How do you decide which task is “more important” than another? Use time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam’s advice and quickly ask yourself five questions: Does it take a step toward a big professional goal? Does your boss say it’s a top priority? Does it make you money? Does it lighten your mental load? Can it only be done today? Once you have your list organized, break down any big tasks into specific actions you’ll take to accomplish them.

4. Check-In With Your Team:

It’s small but mighty: Say hello to your colleagues in the morning. Not only will it help you start the day in a good mood, but they’ll be much more likely to help a friendly colleague than a grumplestiltskin if you need help putting out a fire later that afternoon.

So, there you have it: the four things you should do to accomplish more throughout the workday. Drink coffee, eat a metaphorical frog, and get to work.

What are your tips for a productive workday?

This post was originally published on Levo League and was published on Brit + Co and it was the most popular piece on Fast Company recently! Image via The Everygirl

18 Responses to The First Four Things You Should Do for a Productive Workday

  1. Mikayla Christiansen says:

    I always love starting my day by reading blog posts! These are all such great tips! I am definitely going to starting eating the frog first thing. I love making lists and at the beginning of my week, planning everything out in my agenda.

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind

  2. These are great tips! I think doing the most difficult task in the morning, and organizing your to-do list are great ways to help you be productive.

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  3. Jenny says:

    This post was perfect!
    Sometimes I just need a little extra motivation.

    xoxo, Jenny

  4. Anna says:

    The whole “Eat the frog” thing is a really good idea! Once you get the most important thing done, the rest of the day is a breeze! Thanks for sharing these 🙂
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  5. Kayla says:

    I always make a to-do list at the end of my work day for the things I want to accomplish for the next day. It really helps to keep me focused when I get to work in the morning and am totally lost!

    Kayla || Keynotes from Kay

  6. Annaliese says:

    What good suggestions! I’ll definitely carry these with me once I enter the workforce full time. 🙂

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  7. Ashley says:

    What great suggestions to get your day off to a great start! Definitely going to try and “Eat the Frog” more often!

    xo Ashley

  8. Sara says:

    This list is so good – I especially love the first tip. I’ve really been struggling with productivity the last few days, feeling down and distracted by fun projects rather than what I need to do. I totally agree about “eating the frog” and I’m going to start doing that from now on – though not with a real frog, of course (;

  9. Lauren says:

    Ok so when I saw eat the frog I was like what?!!? But I love that! I think it’s the best idea to tackle all of the big things first in the morning and then the other things later on!
    xo
    Lauren
    The Fashionista’s Diary

  10. Ashley says:

    I tried these yesterday and it worked! I love these ideas! Eating the frog is great, but in PR my frog always tends to come at 3:30 lately, fun right?
    I love these posts!
    xoxo

  11. Amy says:

    Such great tips! I swear by to-do lists to help me get things done. Thanks for sharing (:
    xoxo
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  12. Loving your ideas! I can definitely relate to finding a good working pace only to realize it’s already lunchtime! I’m not a morning person, so I need all the tips I can get on spending the first part of the day in the most productive way possible!

  13. Rachel says:

    Love this list! I definitely wait as long as possible to read my emails (they stress me out too much!) but I do make it a point to shower the second I get up! Getting squeaky clean and ready for the day makes me more apt to get stuff done rather than just lay in bed all day!

    XO, Rachel
    http://www.seashellsandsparkles.com

  14. Creating a to-do list in the morning seriously saves my entire day. Without one, my thoughts get so jumbled and I get nothing done. I love the idea of knocking out the most important thing first. I always try to prioritize my to do lists.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

  15. Tiffani says:

    I think checking over my to-do list is always something I start my day with! I love being able to visualize what I need to get done for that day!

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