N ot everyone may agree but statistically speaking, the morning can be the most productive time of the day. But after addressing emails, catching up with colleagues and working on a pending project or task, it’s suddenly 1pm and half the day has passed. We all know ‘the early bird gets the worm’ but no one actually likes ‘worms’ (and very few like getting up early for that matter). Addressing tasks with the least amount of cognitive engagement first-thing can make us feel busy, but as Duke University professor Dan Ariely pointed out, this is simply a way of pretending to be productive; occupying our time with inefficient tasks that don’t produce results. To spearhead the mid-morning slump, employ these three tactics and start every day on a high-point.
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Start off Strong
Also known as ‘eating the frog’ according to Mark Twain, attacking the most important or daunting job first gets it done and dusted. Twain referred to eating a frog as addressing the most daunting or dislikeable part first, just so the day can’t get any worse. But regarding the office, ‘eating the frog’ releases you from a psychological hang-over of the task – any daunting feelings of the job lingering over you are gone. In doing so, smaller tasks can be done on a productivity high, with the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction putting everything else in a far more manageable light.
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Abandon the Inbox
With the exception of urgent emails, leave inbox organisation for later on in the morning. Checking emails – and acting on them- first thing can clog up a daily routine and unconsciously slow productivity down. Writing out long and diplomatic emails is also a culprit here as explaining, discussing and analysing things via email is a waste of time when you are likely to do exactly the same thing with your colleague in person. Take a leaf out of Steve Jobs’ book and keep emails frank, clear and concise – but maybe a little more diplomatic. We can’t all wage a ‘Holy War with Google’ as Job’s planned to but saving time on email interaction frees up our day to plot something equally ambitious.
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Rank your Work.
The power of a hand-written list never fades. Having cleared the worst or most essential job of the day, physically organize your work with a list, including priority ranking, colour coding and crossing off each task as it is complete. Tumblr founder David Karp depends on lists not only to manage his ‘bad memory’ but his resistance in keeping a schedule. Physically crossing things out is a nice way to tap into the psychology of being productive and in turn, boost your motivation through till lunch.