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Steer Your Career: "The best ways to start and end your workday"

Sep 7, 2012

Here’s how the ‘most successful people’ spend the first and last hour of their workdays.
By David Spark | Posted: September 5, 2012

Everyone has a daily routine that makes them comfortable. For those highly productive people, they think about the first hour as the launching pad for the rest of their day. And they think about their last hour as a way to reflect on the day and a time to set up for the next day.

On Quora, I stumbled upon this discussion, “How do the most successful people spend the first hour of the day?” I was fascinated by the advice so I summarized the tips, and added some additional advice I’ve learned. I invite you to provide your input in the comments.

How to spend the first hour of your day The first hour often can set the tone for the rest of your day. Think consciously about what you’re going to do in this time.

1. Go on a grateful and visualization walk.
According to Daniel Eskin, this walk is one of Tony Robbins’ mental strategy techniques. The purpose is to “become strongly associated initially with very detailed things in your life you are grateful for, and then visualize how you must make your life that day, that week, that year, etc,” said Eskin of Robbins’ advice. While he admitted it sounds new-agey, Eskin said it has incredible effects on associating success with his everyday life.

UI designer, Matt Dronkers, disagreed, “Choose to do positive things that don’t have anything to do with ‘visualizing’ what you want your day or life to be like. If you do that, it seems you will miss the first hour you are awake because you spend it in your head, and not fully aware of your surroundings.”

2. Exercise. Exercise is one of the most common first hour pieces of advice. Many avoid exercise because they say they don’t have time for it. Those who exercise remark they are more productive and mentally fresh for the hours they do work.

3. Do the thing you dread. Kate Huyett noted that Henry Paulson, Goldman Sachs’ CEO and United States Secretary of the Treasury, said the first thing he did every morning was the thing he most dreaded that day.

Sarah Lafferty adheres to Paulson’s advice and tries to tackle the toughest thing first.

“This clears my head for the rest of the day and makes me feel on top of things,” Lafferty said.

4. Create a to-do and not-to-do list.
Anuj Agarwal, founder of Feedspot.com, creates two lists:
1. What I’m not going to do today (distractions)
2. What I’m going to do today (productivity)

5. Clear out all emails. There are two types of people. Those who have hundreds of emails in their inbox, and those with less than 10. I’m the latter. I like to keep my inbox clean if not empty, especially at the end of the day. I bring it down to less than five within the first hour of the day. I try to have it empty by the day’s end.

The reason so many people feel inundated by email is because they probably work in an office where they get cc’ed on everything and feel the obligation to read everything. If you’re drowning under office email, you should find a better way to communicate through a non-email based collaboration tool such as Yammer.

Read the complete article here.