Mar 012015 5 Responses

The Best Way to Start Monday

With fire. That’s the best way to start your Monday.

Get to work. Don’t enter the week apathetically. Don’t slow play your way into your day.

Charge in like someone who has something to accomplish. (See: Do the Work)

Most people make two major mistakes in starting their workday and their work-week:

  1. They don’t plan their work.
  2. They try to ease into their day.

Both of these failures sabotage productivity.

Some do not have this privilege. Some jobs do not allow the worker to make choices. An ER doctor faces whatever patients might be in the room. A teacher must start when the bell rings. An airplane pilot will hit the throttle when the schedule demands it.

Yet many of us do have flexibility in our jobs. We get to determine what task should be our next one.

When flexibility is ours, intention must be our choice.

Nothing will increase our productivity and purpose as much as planning our day and charging into the most important tasks. (See: A Secret to Productivity)

Do what matters.

The last way we should start our day is with a few small tasks that simply do not matter.

Checking email or returning unimportant phone calls is a setup for failure.

Many people make the mistake of spending the opening minutes of their Monday catching up with co-workers from the weekend—reviewing Friday night outings or Saturday’s game. This might be good for a friendship, but it is horrible for production. Wasting the opening minutes of a workday is procrastination. Beginning the day or week with procrastination makes you more likely to continue the pattern throughout the week. When you begin behind, you will probably end behind.

There is a better way. (See: Three Things Every Employee Should Do)

Determine the most important thing.

By defining what is the most important task for your week and for your day, you set yourself up for success. Determine it and do it. Don’t push it off until Tuesday. Don’t wait until the afternoon. Determine what is the most important task and start attacking it. Ignore your email. Refuse phone calls. Tell your co-workers you will talk to them later.

Get to work.

Nothing will engage you more or make you feel more alive than finding a way to accomplish important things early in your day. By doing so, you are taking control of your day. Even if the rest of the day gets hijacked by an unexpected emergency, you will still leave the office with a sense of accomplishment.

Don’t confuse activity with productivity.

Too often we begin our workdays with meaningless activity. I seriously doubt your email will reveal the most important task of your week. I doubt a little paperwork or filing a report is the most pressing issue. Yet when we confuse activity for productivity, we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are getting work done.

Everyone has small tasks which must be accomplished for their job, yet instead of doing them first, save them. Pile the small tasks together to be accomplished right before lunch or right before you go home. If you reach a breaking point on your big task, then change mental gears by knocking out several minor responsibilities.

But do not start your day with something that will not truly matter tomorrow.

Your brain needs more than that. Your heart needs to be engaged from the get-go.

Love your co-workers, but talk to them later.

Some of your co-workers may not like this approach. They might think you are rude. They may be threatened by your work-ethic. They might be confused by your intention.

However, the most loving thing you can do for your co-workers is to refuse to review the weekend. There will be a time for that. I’m not saying to be cold or uncaring. You should listen and understand what is going on in the lives of those around you. But Monday morning is not where that should take place. Save it for lunch or a coffee break or at the end of the day when you are mentally drained. Make your personal connections, but do not try to make them at the start of the day. (See: What Your Boss Wants–More Pac-Man, Less Pong)

When the day is brand new and the whole week is before you, engage the most important task with your best energy. Refuse to push aside the important work. Do not be deceived into thinking that which is yelling the loudest will mean the most.

Chances are, if you have the freedom to choose how to do your work, then someone is paying you to make those choices. Honor them by making a wise choice. Don’t fall for the sucker’s choice of doing the easiest thing or the most time-sensitive item or the task which another person is complaining about. Choose the most important thing and engage your full body, mind, and soul into that task.

Do that today, tomorrow, every day, and watch how differently you approach work.

It’s Monday. You are getting paid to do two things: figure out what is important and do it.

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