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

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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Yong Kang Chan

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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