How long does it take you to get going at work? For many, it can take two or three hours to start working on the activities that really matter, creatively procrastinating what should be done immediately. The reason you delay the important tasks is because they are harder to do, and generally not as fun as other day-to-day activities.
Here is a typical early day schedule for low-producing employees:
8:00 am Boot-up the machine
8:05 am Open and review MS Outlook
8:20 am Get some coffee
8:25 am Strike-up a conversation with co-workers
8:35 am Still talking to co-workers (Dancing With the Stars discussion)
8:45 am More talking with co-workers (complaining about too much work)
8:50 am Back to the desk to re-review email
9:00 am Work email looks challenging. Time to check personal email.
9:20 am Get more coffee
9:25 am Bathroom break
9:35 am Make a call home to make sure all is okay, and check on dinner plans.
9:45 am Look out the window and dream about 5 p.m.
9:55 am Back to the desk – not sure why
10:00 am Ok – time to get some work done around here!
Many employees waste valuable time early in the day. You can take a different approach and take control of your day. The earlier you tackle the important work, the more productive you are to the organization.
#1: Determine what is not urgent, but important.
Dr. Stephen Covey mentions that you should spend most of our time on issues that are important, but not urgent. In other words, you need to avoid chaos management. You need to identify the activities that must get done. For example, you have a presentation that is due next week. It’s best to work on it today. You can start doing the research, collecting the data, confirming the attendees, and so on. If you delay the issue becomes important and urgent, which creates a stressful situation.
#2: Create your plan.
Instead of that long coffee break, get a blank sheet of paper and create an outline of the work that you must do for an upcoming project. Determine the information you need, the resources required, and the funding necessary to meet the objectives. By putting the activities on paper, you kick-start the process. Your manager will appreciate that you can conceptualize these high-level assignments. In essence, you are strategizing, which means you are thinking like a leader. The work is now assignable to others because they have a clearer understanding of the requirements.
#3: Get to work!
Now that you know what is important, and you’ve created your plan, start doing the work. Don’t kill time talking with co-workers, calling home to see what’s for dinner, checking your personal email, or staring out the window. Put your head down and begin tackling Activity #1. The sooner you start, the sooner you will create tangible benefits for the organization.
Productive employees excel in ambiguous environments. You will rarely have step-by-step instructions. It’s your responsibility to make the complicated seem easy to understand. Finally, avoid looking for a pat on the back. Your manager will know you are doing excellent work.
The first two hours of your workday will ensure that you complete the critical activities each day. From a professional standpoint, this commitment will elevate you to a top-performer, and you will be on track to reap the benefits associated with that level of accomplishment.