Forbes recently offered a well intentioned list of things we all should do to start our workday called “14 Things You Should Do at the Start of Every Work Day”. I thought I would review the list and see how it helped me improve my already stellar performance. Following is my “diary” for the day. First I list the suggestion from their 14 points, and then how employing that suggestion improved or otherwise affected my day.

Arrive on time – Forbes says: “This may be obvious to most people—but some don't realize that showing up late can not only leave a bad impression, but also throw off your entire day.”

Piece of cake. I arrive at 9:15 am, my usual time, ready to seize the day. This is going to be quite useful. Nothing is going to throw off my entire day now.

Take a deep breath – Forbes says: “Slowing down, taking a moment to pause, and creating a routine around centering yourself can work wonders.”

Ok, now we’re talking. I can take a few minutes to breath deeply and center myself. I decide this would be best accomplished in the bathroom. I can kill two birds with one stone this way. I am going to get a lot done today. I can feel it! On second thought, it turns out I am just feeling last nights burrito dinner. Better not breathe too deeply.

Take five – Forbes says: “After the deep breath, give yourself five minutes to get settled in.”

Uh, ok. I just took 10 minutes for my deep breath. I wish I’d known this was next. I could have taken care of three things at once. Once I have finished “taking five”, I look at my watch. It is 9:45am.

Start each day with a clean slate – Forbes says: “Leave any crap from yesterday behind, tap into what's happening at the outset of the day, get organized and ready or hit the ground running, if that's what is needed.”

Really? That’s a problem. Most of my schedule IS crap from yesterday. I should have read these points then, before I made a lot of commitments for today. People may be disappointed. Oh well.

Don’t be moody – Forbes says: “You'll want to pay attention to your mood and be aware of its effect on others.”

Ok, now they are just pissing me off.

Organize your day – Forbes says: “The first hour of the work day is the best time to assess priorities and to focus on what you absolutely need to accomplish.”

If you say so. Lets see. It is just past 10am and I need to spend the next hour assessing my priorities. I’m on it.

Be present – Forbes says: “Taking the time to connect with your team members is essential, and doing the seemingly small things–making eye contact, smiling, asking them about their night, and checking in on what they may need help with–helps you as a leader take the pulse of the team, and helps set the tone for all the employees.”

This one is easy. I always start my day at the office saying good morning to everyone and making small talk with them. It is important that they know they are being lead by someone who takes the time to pretend he cares about their trivial, meaningless lives. Besides, it is a good opportunity to display my relative sobriety, while checking to make sure the lazy buggers are actually at their workstations. I am all about motivation. Of course, I usually complete this task by 9:30. Today for some reason I am running a couple hours behind schedule. Someone will need to be flogged for this.

Check in with your colleagues – Forbes says: “A quick 5 to 10 minute team huddle can also be an effective way for many people to start their day.”

Again? I just had to actually speak to them, for crying out loud. Now we need a huddle? It will have to wait until after lunch. There is not enough time right now.

Ensure that your workspace is organized – Forbes says: “Clearing off the desk and creating a neat workspace sets a tone for the rest of the day.”

Crap. Have you seen my desk? This could take hours. 

Don’t be distracted by your inbox – Forbes says: “This one is difficult for most people—but the experts agree that you shouldn't check your e-mail first thing in the morning.”

Yeah, but now that my desk is clear it is 4:00 in the afternoon, and I still can’t check my inbox? As a company whose business is completely based online, email is kind of important. But Forbes must know best about these things, so I will skip my email and move on to the next step.

Listen to your voicemail – Forbes says: “While office voicemail is indeed becoming antiquated as people rely more on personal cell phones, Blackberrys and e-mail, some people do leave voice messages, and if you ignore them, you could miss something important.”

Hmmmmm. This is another problem. Our IP based phone system actually emails my voice mail messages to me, and due to the previous restriction on accessing email until I have “prepared for the day”, I am unable to check my voice messages at this time. I am just not ready for it yet.

Place important calls and send urgent e-mails – Forbes says: “If you know you need to get in touch with someone that day, place the call or send the e-mail first thing in the morning.”

Now they tell me. I wish I had hit this point earlier in the day. Fact is it is almost 5:00 and with the prohibition on email or voice mail until I am fully prepared for the day I don’t have a clue who I should call, other than my wife to tell her I will be coming home soon.

Take advantage of your cleared head – Forbes says: “Many people feel that their brains function best in the morning, and that morning is when they are most creative and productive.”

Well, now at the end of the day I must say my head is certainly clear. The drive home should be quite pleasant. I know there is just one more step to prepare for my day and then I can go home.

Plan a mid-morning break – Forbes says: “This is the time to assess where you and take time to revitalize yourself so that you can keep your momentum going.”

Thank God. After all this prep I could use a break. I will squeeze it in before I head home for the day. I’m exhausted, and I’ll need the momentum just to get home.


Editors Note: Bob appreciates the good humor of his co-workers, who tolerate his boorish and inaccurate description of them as lazy and incompetent. Nothing could be further from the truth. No employees were flogged or otherwise hurt during the writing of this article.

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