1st February, 2010
If you regularly get to the office on a Monday morning and spend the first 20 minutes staring at the desk, wondering what happened to the weekend, thinking, “I love my work but it would be so much easier if it was Friday”, then here are seven quick tips for getting the new work week off to a flying start.
1) Look at the diary so you know what time you have available for the week. Then write down what you need to have achieved by the time you get to Friday lunchtime. I like to have a contingency and if I can get to Friday lunchtime having met the week’s obligations then I have bonus time to do some of those extra things typically identified as “that’s a good Friday afternoon job… we’ll do that when we get a spare hour.”
2) Clear emails and post – give yourself a fixed time (say, 20 or 30 minutes) to have them read, responded to (if you can do so briefly) or flagged for action. If something needs more time to respond fully yet isn’t urgent, don’t be afraid to send a quick reply to say you have the email and will respond fully this afternoon, on Wednesday, next week… whatever.
3) Make a cup of tea! This doesn’t mean you have to have a tea break before you start… use the 5 minutes it takes to brew up to think through and focus on your day. Maybe it’s different for you, but the first mug of tea of the day is something that settles me down and helps me to get in the zone, it’s certainly not a distraction.
4) Don’t get unnecessarily distracted by colleagues (discussing Saturday’s football, Sunday’s family film, the weather tomorrow…) You don’t need to be rude but perhaps offer to catch up over lunch. You may need to resist asking the “did you have a nice weekend?” question till later in the day for anyone who is likely to want to fill you in on every moment of their weekend!
5) Make sure you know who’s depending on your time this week ahead. It’s amazing how many weeks end on a Friday with “OK.. we’ll sit down and work that out next week” only for Monday to arrive and our minds wiped clean by the weekend.
6) Write a list of seven goals for the day – or five, ten, or however many works for you. Seven work for me – I usually get to clear at least five and very often all seven. I always make sure I have something that I really like doing and is easy to achieve. Some of my daily goals are very quick to complete but important, some are more ambitious. I prefer to call them goals rather than things ‘to do’ – that way I always feel like I’m achieving rather than faced with a list of chores.
7) With a good set of goals defined for the day, get straight on and pick off one of them. Choose the one that is a quick and easy win. Look at the list of goals and make a conscious note that you have crossed one of them off. Give yourself a pat on the back, feel good about it and look forward to the week ahead knowing that you’re off to a good start!