Does your workday sometimes start off poorly? What do you do during the first 10 minutes at the office? Set yourself up for success by understanding how to start your workday.
In this post, I will discuss several things you need to avoid when kicking off your workday. In the first hour, there are things you should avoid as much as possible.
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UPDATED: JANUARY 22, 2023
Beginning your workday properly
If you’re looking to avoid bad habits working at the office, you don’t want to fall back into them quickly. If you feel stressed out coming to work, you’re setting your day up for disaster. Productively starting your workday will not only make you feel better but helps you get more done if you make it a good practice.
- Avoid Coffee & Chatting With Coworkers
- Avoid Meetings When It’s Not Necessary
- No Email Or Opened Web Browsers
- Avoid Multitasking
- Not Clearing Your Mind Before Starting Work
Avoid coffee & chatting with coworkers
Many workers fall into a bad habit of making coffee the very first thing. They’ll go to their break area to make a pot, and that quickly wastes five minutes.
Five minutes may be no big deal, but you might regret it at the end of the day. Not to mention you may go back for the second round of coffee later on. Especially between the middle to end of a day, you might be rushing yourself to get work done.
Another common problem is chatting with coworkers, particularly about topics outside of work. Small talk at work is ok, but if you make it a regular habit.
It might be a challenge for coffee lovers, but hold off on coffee until your first hour or two at work. If you decide to conduct deep work for your first 90 minutes, then you can grab some coffee after that period has passed.
In regards to socializing with coworkers, put off non-related work conversations until lunchtime or the middle of the day. If you have lunch with coworkers, that’s the best time to discuss whatever you want besides work.
Avoid meetings when it’s not necessary
One of the worst ways to start your workday is by walking into a meeting. Although inevitable, sitting in on a meeting can take up a lot of time, especially if they last an hour or longer.
Workers, on average, spend about 23 hours a week in meetings. It may not be the case for every workplace, but that amount of time is astonishing. That’s close to a day’s worth of work lost to workers.
To manage your time around your schedule, block out time in your work calendar when you’re open. For example, use terms such as “meeting time” or “open” on your schedule for periods you’re free for meetings. This strategy may not work for mandatory meetings. However, for meetings you’re not required to attend, using time blockers can be useful in managing your time at the office.
No email or opened web browsers
One mistake that workers make once settled in the office is checking their email. According to Adam Alter, a New York University professor, it takes an average of 25 minutes to achieve maximum productivity after checking email.
Email may be an essential tool at work. Especially with more and more people working remotely, this form of communication is vital. Still, it’s also a huge distraction and time-waster. You could be scrolling through and responding to emails for a good half-hour to 45 minutes.
More so, those emails may not be essential to get back to immediately. If they can wait, hold off on checking email at a more convenient time.
Hold off checking email until the last two hours of your workday. Around this time, you may have finished the priorities that you needed to check off that day. For some workers, the end of the day may not be that busy.
So if you have some downtime during your final hours of work, going through your email at that time would be better. If you’re not able to wait until the end of the day, do it around the middle of the day before lunchtime.
Regarding web browsers, limit your time through screen-limit tools or apps on your computer. There is plenty of software tools and add-one you can install on your desktop. Some are free while some cost money.
Sometimes, you may not be in control when your mind is so preoccupied. Especially when there are days you have a giant to-do list in front of you- your is less focused to work on the more challenging tasks to take on.Eric T. Seil (Site Owner of notimekillers.com)
Doing many things at once may sound like we’re productive. But as I’ve written before, multitasking makes us less productive. Even for people who try doing it with much effort, it may slow them down and can build on their workload.
There are many things the human brain can take in a limited period. The human mind can’t tackle a bunch of tasks at once, so multitasking limits our abilities to get more done in less time.
Not clearing your mind before starting work
Sometimes, you may not be in control when your mind is preoccupied. Especially when there are days you have a giant to-do list in front of you, your mind is less focused then.
When our minds are preoccupied with other things we need to tackle, we’re less likely to stay focused and perform at our best.
Simple things such as meditating before starting your workday can be helpful. Those who take advantage of it (in the morning or evening) can make a difference in how they go out about their daily routines.
Also, keeping a notebook to write down your thoughts is a great way to get any worries or concerns out of your mind. For myself, I find writing down my interests is a great way to provide relief. It helps keep me calm and relaxed on a given day.
When you have a plethora of thoughts stuck in your head, it can be overwhelming. Sure, you can pretend that things are ok and you’ll remember things later.
But if you write out your thoughts and concerns, it’s much easier to process. If you can do that for work, you’ll find yourself in a less stressful situation. Writing out your concerns can be a great approach to solving basic problems over time.
A relevant article from notimekillers.com
Read next on “What do you do to effectively manage your time? Top 7 tips”, to learn some tip tips to managing your time effectively.
Overall, holding off on your coffee or email can help you get a jumpstart on your workday. How people kickstart their day at work can determine whether they have a productive day or not.
It amazes me that a lot of people don’t keep these simple points in mind. They’re easy to implement, but it’s probably having discipline and patience over time. If they are willing to be disciplined and make an effort, they may see some positive changes down the road.
Your Turn: How are you starting your workday?
How do you utilize your time during your first hour at work? Have you been doing any things that aren’t helpful to your workday?
Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. It would be my pleasure to read your thoughts, and I will respond back promptly.
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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.
8 thoughts on “How To Start Your Workday: 5 Things To Avoid When Possible”
If I can avoid meetings I avoid them. Most of the time not much useful is said in meetings. Perhaps only 5 or 10 minutes of a one-two hour meeting may be worth it with some useful points, but in my experience the rest of those meetings is just filled with people talking over others and interrupting each other all the time. Not all meetings are held the same but at my job it is always a mess, so I do my best to avoid them unless I absolutely have to be there …
Having a clear mind is also important. Meditating helps a lot. I think that a short walk outside can also do wonders to the mind. If you use a notebook to write down your thoughts, should you do that before going to work or at the office right when you’re starting the day? Or should you take notes in it throughout the day?
Thank you for your valuable comment.
We both think a like when it comes to holding meetings. They sure can be a waste of time if not used properly. So shorter meetings are better altogether.
Regarding your questions, it’s up to you based on your lifestyle. For me, I usually like to do it at the start of the day before doing anything else. Especially before starting work, it can help you prepare you day much better.
Sometimes, I like to jot down notes as I go about my day. If there are thoughts I need to write down on paper, I won’t hesitate to do so. It’s a great habit to do each day.
I hope my answers helped you out. Thanks again for your thoughtful questions- they’re very much appreciated 🙂
I am guilty when it comes to procrastination. I have a bad habit of checking social media first thing in the morning. A couple of hours will pass by and I’ll be in panic mode to get things done.
Yesterday, I spent my day playing Links Awakening on the switch. I convinced myself that I needed to beat the game so I could stop thinking about it.
Maybe I needed it to be my day of rest. Today I’m hard at work. I’ll have to be for the rest of the weekend if I want to meet any of my goals.
Thank you for the advice.
Hello, thank you very much for your comment.
I understand how that feels. You’re not the only one who gets in the habit of doing that first thing.
A lot of people struggle with it; soon before they know it, half of their day has been wasted. It’s not the best feeling having so much time go down the drain.
Every once and a while, it’s ok for it to happen. But you don’t want to make it a daily habit. As you mentioned earlier, maybe you needed a day of rest.
Thank you again for your thoughts- they’re much appreciated. All the best moving forward.
Thank you for the tips and tricks in this article. I find myself getting distracted at work by lots of other things, mainly on the internet, so your tip about no web browsers is particularly poignant to me. However, I often find, especially in our slow season, that I don’t have enough work to keep me busy all day.
Do you have any suggestions for me on what I could do during those times when I don’t have much to do that can still help me to be a good, productive employee during the time I’m trying to fill?
Understanding what to avoid or not can be challenging. But if you break it down further, it may be easier than you think.
It sounds like you have a general understanding of how to avoid distractions. It can help and come a long way for you.
Regarding your question, I believe that’s valid to ask. If you work in a business during slow times, it’s not always easy to figure what to do during your downtime.
One of my suggestions would be to invest time in learning new skills. That could be up to you, or something that your employer can invest some time into your human capital.
For example, look into taking classes (either at a community college or online) in areas that can improve your skillset. Maybe you want to become a better communicator, or looking to go into the direction of entrepreneurship.
If you want to make yourself more valuable, I believe this is the direction to go into.
I’m a firm believer that investing yourself is one of the best decisions you can make as an individual. Doing that throughout your life will have great rewards down the road. Whether that’s more wealth or happiness, it’s great no matter what you want to accomplish (or have more of).
I hope that helps answer your question. I appreciate what you have to say, and the question you ask. It’s very thoughtful and well worth discussing.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts- very much appreciated.
Thankfully, COVID has made many of us realise that there are alternative ways of having meetings, conferences. Lots on man-hours have been saved through virtual meetings. Travellings costs have been saved too.
Regarding checking emails in the morning, we’re all guilty of this. Moving this to midday or later in the day will be a big challenge but I believe it’s doable especially after reading about Adam Alter’s discovery.
We live in an era where there are more alternatives to working. Also, it’s easier than ever with more of these options on the table.
I agree with you on conducting virtual meetings, along with better times to check email. If we can learn to be more efficient in these areas, the more time we can save for other things.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts- they’re greatly appreciated.