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4 Tips to Jumpstart Your Work Day

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How do you start your workshifting day?

I’ve been asked a lot of questions over the years about working from home, being my own boss, finding the time or the discipline to do everything, and so forth. But it took 18 miles one summer morning before someone in my old run group asked me what I do first.

People seem to envy workshifters because we get to set our hours and select our work settings. But what often gets lost is that we, too, have to have a routine. Otherwise, how would we ever get anything done?

Here are four tips to jumpstart your workshifting day:

  1. Get Distractions Out of the Way. Just as you need to warm up before a workout, you need to warm your brain before diving into the substantive stuff. While office denizens typically start off with coffee and collegial conversation, you should do much the same. If you’re a café dweller, for example, you probably chat with other regulars. If you’re a Facebook fanatic, spend a few minutes catching up with friends. I start my day with the online crossword and a little Twitter conversation.

  2. Clear Your Inbox. Unless you are superhuman, chances are you have to peek at what’s piled into your inbox while you were slumbering. That’s okay. Go ahead. I skim my subscriptions folder just to make sure there isn’t a header that looks too sexy to ignore. But mostly I look through my inbox to triage what’s top priority (must act), routine (can be answered later), just for reference (move to another folder right away), or delete-able (done).

  3. Tackle the toughest task first. It is tempting to put off the hard work, but that’s a slippery slope to spending your day surfing the Web, rearranging files, reading blog posts, or whatever else it is you’d rather be doing. The key to a solid routine is to discipline yourself to get done what has to be done. When I don’t have an early meeting, client work and business development get prioritized.

  4. Eat Breakfast. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. Breakfast matters, and not just because I’m eventually going to bonk and get cranky otherwise. Putting off meals has the unintended consequence of disrupting your work flow because you suddenly have to eat something mid-morning when you should be chugging away on those tough tasks. Ideally, eat breakfast while you’re warming up or clearing out your inbox.

What would you add? How do you jumpstart your work day?

Photo Credit: madmolecule

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Daria Steigman is the founder of Steigman Communications. She is a business and marketing strategist, and a writer, and works with companies, associations, and international organizations to put in place smart communications strategies to support your goals and objectives. Read more at www.steigmancommunications.com.
  • Marie Claire Bretaña-Ponsaran

    *sigh* I’m guilty of number 4. I always forget to eat. Sometimes, I eat too fast or too little that I end up finishing my meal later when I couldn’t ignore the hunger pangs any longer.

    • Daria Steigman

      Apparently I haven’t completed conquered #4 either. I read your comment and realized it was 9:10 a.m. and I hadn’t eaten anything. So I jumped up and got some breakfast BEFORE I hit reply. Now eating and commenting.

      On the bright side, it is still morning. :)

      • Daria Steigman

        “Completely,” that is.

  • http://www.aptdesignonline.com Brad

    #3 is why I don’t do #2 at the beginning of the day. If I have something big and great to work on I try and plan it the night before to be the first thing. That way I don’t even have to go to my Inbox and get distracted by all the fires and urgently needed responses there first. The big great task gets all my attention, and gets done first.

    That’s … how I try and be anyways.

    • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

      That makes a lot of sense. Like you, I tend to ponder the “big and great” the night before so I can hit the ground focused and ready to make progress.

      But I still have to peek into my Inbox first. Not for long, but peek nonetheless.

  • http://www.thinkinprojects.com Rafal

    I would change the order to #4, #1, #3, #2. Emptying inbox can wait until later as it usually means distraction to completing the toughest task.
    That reminds me to make calendar the default view in Outlook when I launch it.

    And breakfast never leave house with out one. That’s the most important meal of the day.

    • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

      I can see why you’d move Inbox to the bottom. For me, it’s higher up because there are usually 1-2 things in there I need to respond to. (Which also feeds in a bit with #1.) Doing that right away knocks that off the list and then lets me focus uninterrupted on #3.

      As for eating breakfast, you’re right. In my case, I’m just glad it IS finally on my list!

      • http://www.thinkinprojects.com Rafal

        I try to avoid using inbox as todo list. In the long run it never works form me.

  • Kurt

    I would add a 1b, which is to make sure to spend some quality time helping the rest of the family (where applicable) to get on with their day. Definite benefit of WFH, and it helps focus me for the rest of the day, especially when they are back home and I still need to work.

    • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

      Great point, Kurt, about making sure the family is taken care of!