10 Things Productive Professionals Do in the First 15 Minutes of the Day

By November 20, 2015 No Comments

By: Maurice Gilbert, Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search

stopwatchYour workday has already started. Have you set the tone yet for the rest of your day? If you’re already too busy to have given that any thought, then good luck to you. After all, in just a few minutes you’re going to be buffeted by the needs and priorities of everyone around you.

A better way? Skim these tips for making the most of your workday. And tomorrow morning, use them!

Here’s how productive people spend the first 15 minutes at the office:

1. They get an early start

Rushing creates anxiety. Stroll in early, and you’ve already created a calm buffer around yourself from which to operate.

2. They keep a tidy workspace

Purge your area of old papers, unread materials, empty coffee cups, etc. Piles of things you have finished or items you don’t need yet either pull you into the past or slingshot you into the future. Be here now. With a clean desk.

3. They take a moment to review

Go over what you’ve recently accomplished, especially on Mondays or the first day back from vacation. This is your warm up, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel by going over what you’ve already completed will give you a blast of energy and a sense of direction.

4. They identify no more than three important tasks for the day

Too many tasks on a plate becomes overwhelming. Stay focused and avoid “switch-tasking” by identifying your three most important accomplishments for the day. (Read More on this topic from a favorite productivity blog, Zen Habits)

5. They ask themselves good questions

Productive people identify the day’s challenges by asking themselves what problems need to be solved. Skip this step and you risk frittering your day on busy-work tasks without tackling anything big-picture-related. For example, Ron Friedman, an expert on human motivation, suggests you 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?

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

If you read and begin responding to emails in the first 15 minutes of your day, you won’t have time to follow any other tip on this page. Resist the urge. Get centered, make your plan for the day, and then set aside a few blocks of time later in the morning to tackle your inbox.

7. They silence their cell phones

Buzz. Buzz. You’re already getting texts and notifications and your day has barely begun. Turn it off. If you allow distractions at the beginning of the day, you set the tone for the rest of it.

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

Top athletes use visualization as part of their training. So should you. Conjure positive images of success and achievement in your mind. This is your mental rehearsal, and when it’s time to perform, your subconscious will already be primed and ready. Bonus points: perform this task along with some deep, meditative breathing and some light stretching to further fuel your mind, body and soul.

9. They give their team members time to warm up as well

Unless you want your colleagues to come find you and fire questions at you during your first 15 golden minutes of the day, don’t impose your priorities on others before the workday officially begins, either. 

10. They practice gratitude

Productive people are grateful to have meaningful work and to be of value to a company and to those around them. They view challenges as opportunities for success and personal growth. When you take a moment to feel good about your work, it blunts negative energy and prevents procrastination.


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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