The first 15 minutes of your workday sets the tone for the rest of your workday.

If you are already too busy at the start of your workday, imagine what the rest of your day might be like when challenges arise and other people start seeking you for help.

Here are 14 things productive people do in the first 15 minutes of their workday to help them stay productive for the rest of their day.

1. They stroll into the office at least 15 minutes before official working hours

Productive people know the importance of reporting to work early. Instead of rushing to work anxiously and hoping to be on time, they leave their house early and stroll into the office calmly. They set a relaxing tone right from the start of their workday and give themselves an extra 15 minutes to be ready for work.

2. They set up their workspace like professionals

Similar to a surgeon performing an operation and a chef working in the kitchen, productive people make sure their tools are in proper position before they begin their work. Every minute counts in the operating theater and kitchen, so too in your workspace! Productive people keep their workspace organized so that they don’t have to spend unnecessary time looking for what they need.

3. They review what they have done previously

It’s good to review what you have done previously, especially if you’ve just returned from the weekend or holidays. Productive people warms themselves up for work by reminding themselves where they left off previously. Instead of jumping straight into a task, they review past achievement to give themselves some direction on what to do next and a sense of accomplishment.

4. They review their to-do list and deadlines

Productive people have a to-do list. They review their to-do list at the start of their workday so that they can strategize and plan ahead. They remind themselves of important deadlines and meetings so that they can prioritize and schedule their work accordingly.

5. They identify no more than 3 important tasks for the day

Productive people know they will be overwhelmed if they plan too much for themselves. To stay focused at work and prevent themselves from multitasking they identify no more than 3 important tasks for the day. Leo Babauta, founder of the productivity blog Zen Habits, also sets himself 3 most important tasks (MITs) each morning to move himself forward.

6. They ask themselves good questions

Productive people gain clarity on what they want to achieve each day by asking themselves good questions. They identify problems clearly and assess if these problems need to be solved. They don’t waste time during their day solving unimportant issues. Asking good questions also motivates during the day. For example, Ron Friedman, an expert on human motivation, suggests to ask this question at the beginning of your workday:

The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?   

7. They check their emails only if they absolutely have to

Productive people like Tumblr founder David Karp don’t check or read their emails in the first 15 minutes of their workday. They know they will get distracted easily. If they anticipate important emails from their superiors and customers, they will scan their inbox for these emails and schedule replies accordingly. They don’t read emails in chronological order and reply to emails immediately.

8. They put their mobile phone on silent

Productive people know they get the most work done in the morning, so they prioritize what is important and plan their work first. They put their mobile phone on silent and do not have their schedule dictated by incoming messages and notifications.

9. They close their eyes and visualize what their workday is going to be like

Similar to athletes who use visualization techniques for training and competition, productive people run through positive images of success and achievement in their mind. They mentally rehearse and practice what they have to do for the day and program their subconscious mind. When it’s time for them to actually perform the task, they find it much easier.

10. They take a moment to breathe and be present

After visualizing the future, productive people take a moment to be present. They know they may get too busy during the day so they take a break even before they start their work. Breathing deeply provides oxygen to your brain. It makes you think clearer and allow you to be calmer. Successful people like Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington take time to mediate in the morning too.

11. They do some light stretching

Productive people know they have to sit in front of the computer all day. They know that being inactive for too long would bring them health problems in the long run. To combat this they do some light stretching in the first 15 minutes of the workday and schedule time to stretch throughout the day.

12. They give their colleagues space and time to warm up for work

Productive people don’t talk to their colleagues about work issues first thing in the morning. They respect other people’s time and they know their colleagues need time to get ready for work. Unless you want others to find you early in the morning, don’t go into your office and ask others for favors straightaway.

13. They serve their own needs before helping others

Productive people know the importance of fulfilling their own needs before helping others. They determine their own priorities first and slot in other people’s requests later. They don’t try to be supermen or superwomen and help everyone in need. They respect their 15 minute routine in the morning and will politely reject or delay requests if they are approached by others.

14. They are grateful for work and challenges ahead

Productive people remind themselves each morning how blessed they are to have a job and be of value to others. They see challenges as opportunities to grow and stretch themselves. They look forward to work each day. When you feel good about your work, it removes any negative feeling or procrastination you may have that prevents you from being productive.

Featured photo credit: Tim Ferriss by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid via laughingsquid.com

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