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14 Things Productive People Do In The First 15 Minutes Of The Workday

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14 Things Productive People Do In The First 15 Minutes Of The Workday

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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