In order to be successful, it is essential to make progress against your top priorities before responding to other people’s requests.
This means starting each day in proactive mode — doing the work that is most important to you before turning your attention to the ‘urgent’ needs of others.
I recommend protecting the first hour of each work day — what I refer to as ‘Mine O’Clock’ — and attack it on your own terms.
Taking this hour, every morning, to make progress against your short- and long-term goals will add up to big wins over time.
On the flip side, if you don’t guard the first hour of your day — and instead spend it responding to email or rushing off to meetings — your most meaningful work will get crowded out. The day will quickly be eaten up, and your energy drained, before you even get started on our own projects.
Take the following steps to make Mine O’Clock part of your morning routine:
1. Block off the first hour of every work day
- Set a daily recurring appointment in Outlook (or other calendar you use) so this time is preserved and shows others you are booked
- Do not schedule meetings or calls during this hour
- Respectfully decline or ask to reschedule all meeting/call invites during this hour, unless mandatory. If there are meetings scheduled during this time that are required, consider starting your day an hour earlier in those instances
2. Establish your daily to-do list in advance
- Limit it to 3 (or fewer) critical items
- I recommend writing out your to-do list the night before
3. Begin the day with your single most important task
- Find a quiet place to work where you will not be interrupted
- Start your day working on your single most important item. Once complete, move on to other critical to-dos from there
- Avoid email and social media during this hour
It might seem selfish to devote the first hour of every day to your own priorities, but this routine will actually increase your productivity and impact for your company.
And it is highly likely that your boss and co-workers will respect (and perhaps follow) your routine, especially when they see your increased performance.
Oftentimes you’ll accomplish more in the first hour taking this approach than you otherwise would all day. Completing something significant first-thing gives you momentum and can set off a chain reaction of high output throughout the day.
Just imagine how much more effective we would all be if we completed our most important task of the day first thing in the morning.
There are 8+ hours in a typical workday.
Protect the first one for your most meaningful work.