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The First Thing Successful People Do Every Day

The First Thing Successful People Do Every Day

How do successful people cope with that first half hour of work? What they do in that crucial time can usually set the tone for the rest of the day. Many people are convinced that their early morning work routine is an important element in their success. Let’s look at what these successful people do every day, first thing, and maybe learn a few tricks from them along the way.

Tony Robbins practices gratitude and visualization

The famous life coach to the stars recommends starting each work day with being grateful for what you have. He says that you should spend up to 15 minutes thinking about being grateful for everything positive in your life. He also advocates that you then try to understand what you are committed to and what you want from life. This leads to the peak state which gives you the certainty to succeed.

“Take thoughts and turn them into actions, turn them into results, turn your dreams into reality.” —Tony Robbins

Tim Cook does his email at 4:30 a.m.

Many people advocate staying away from email until they get well into the day’s work. Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, firmly believes in getting them out of the way first. He says it leaves him time to concentrate on the top priorities when he gets to the office.

David Karp checks his email when he arrives at the office

The founder of Tumblr is against all kinds of scheduling and manages an enormously successful blogging platform which hosts about 17.5 million blogs. He never checks email at home but does it when he arrives at the office. He says that it helps him to prioritize tasks for the day.

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Setting up filters using Awayfind.com is one way of sorting out all unimportant mails if you feel you are overwhelmed. It will only deliver top priority emails and texts.

Julie Morgenstern, the author of Never Check E-mail in The Morning, takes a different approach and has put forward lots of different ways of becoming more efficient at work.

Mark Twain recommended doing the hardest task first

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”—Mark Twain

Mark Twain was a great advocate of getting the hardest and most daunting task (in other words, the frog) done first thing in the morning. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction will keep you on a high as you get through all the other jobs.

Howard Schultz believes in getting priorities established

The Starbucks CEO usually spends the first hour getting priorities sorted. But he has already done some cycling with his wife and still manages to arrive at his office by 6 a.m.

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Geraldine Laybourne believes in helping the next generation

The ex-CEO of Oxygen Channel is a great believer in offering advice to young people. She likes to do that by taking a walk with them in Central Park very early. She believes early risers deserve to be helped and she herself manages to get some exercise.

Laura Vanderkam recommends writing a challenging report or email

Laura is the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. She says that writing needs concentration and the best time to do it is in the first hour of the day, when distractions, interruptions, and meetings are at a minimum. Willpower will be at its peak during that first half hour.

John Grisham believes in a strict routine

Writing, according to the great author, requires self-discipline. He always followed a set routine in getting going during the first hour when he was working as a lawyer. He got up at 5 a.m.and had to be in the office with a cup of coffee by 5:30 a.m. By that time the first words had to be written. He had to write a page a day, whether it took him 10 minutes or two hours. It was only then that he would start his law work.

Todd Smith always greets colleagues appropriately

Todd Smith has 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, and his book Little Things Matter is a manual on how to treat colleagues and peers. Naturally, he talks about how important greeting your co-workers is.

Nothing worse than people not saying “good morning,” or ignoring you altogether. It is very important to build teamwork, boost morale and also to bond with the people you work with by greeting them or exchanging a friendly word or two. This is especially important in the first half hour as people are feeling fragile or have low morale.

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Following email etiquette also helps. A good idea is not to overload the CC circuit and only copy in the people who are directly involved.

Benjamin Franklin always wanted to be helpful in the morning

“The Morning Question: What good shall I do this day?”—Benjamin Franklin

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, shares Franklin’s views. He starts the day by doing good, too. He strongly believes that helping a co-worker solve a problem or introducing two contacts are ways to create positive karma, and you will always receive some in return. Building goodwill and support is the best way to start your day.

Steve Murphy devotes morning time to planning

The CEO of Rodale urges people to set aside the first hour or so to thinking time and jotting down ideas and priorities on a notepad. This makes his work much more strategic and proactive. It was William Blake’s quote that inspired him to start doing this.

“Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.” —William Blake

Tim Armstrong recommends learning and listening

The CEO of AOL does a lot of his emails in his hour-long journey to work. As he has a driver, he can easily do that. He prefers to use his office time learning and listening to colleagues and networking.

As we have seen, a lot of successful people deal with emails the moment they get up and try to get them out of the way for more strategic work when they actually get to the office. Everybody has a different working style.

Do you do some of the things successful people do every day? Let us know in the comments how you cope with that dreaded first half hour.

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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