OK, confession time. I started my working day today with a long session on Facebook.

There, said it.

I know I’m not alone. One of my one-to-one coaching clients recently fessed up that she often kicked off a day at work with half an hour looking at cute cat videos.

There’s something about connecting with the world first thing in the morning that makes you feel part of it. As if you exist somehow.

But, it it’s not a great way to start your working day.

Do you start your working day with a cat video?

Cute cats can improve your productivity


Watching cat videos wasn’t in my client’s job description and I’m fairly confident it isn’t in yours. (But check out this intriguing post about how those furry distractions can fit into the perfect working day.)

Self-management gurus say you can shape the happiness and productivity of your whole day with those first precious ten minutes. So, what are the other big no-nos?



1. Automatically checking your voicemail and emails

Oh boy, is this hard not to do. I’ve sometimes logged in from my bed to get an early fix of the on-line world out there. It might feel like you’re making progress, but when you start your working day with emails, you give away control. You get caught up in other people’s priorities and go into reactive mode rather than proactively focusing on what you need to do. I teach people in my Taming Time workshops (time management training for the charity sector) to check emails just three times a day – and never first thing.

2. Easing yourself into the day with coffee and a croissant while scrolling through the news

Get breakfast over before you start work. And anything else that you need to do. Being in a state of readiness for the working day is key to how it will play out.

Start your working day with a long catch up?

Chatting with colleagues is a great reward for a job well done

3. Chatting with colleagues

Of course, saying ‘hi’ and being friendly keeps work relationships sweet. But make it quickish. First thing in the morning is probably when your mind is at its most alert and you’ve got the most energy and focus. Have a chat as a  once you’ve put in time on a job that needs creative brain-power.

4. Moaning

The list of things that could get you down in the morning can go on and on if you let it – your computer not booting up, your journey into work, how tired you are, how much work you’ve got to do, other people’s failings etc etc. When you get into a negative state of mind you seriously impact how you feel, and the poor colleague who’s forced to listen. To have a fabulous, productive and amazing day you need an attitude to match.

5. Starting off with the easiest jobs first

It’s so tempting to start your working day by mindlessly going through your ‘to-do list’ of easy little tasks.  It feels goods. It feels productive. But how often does the the end of the day come along and you find you’ve not achieved anything important? That’s not such a great feeling.

don't start your working day with the tadpoles

Get the toughest, most valuable task done first

As Brian Tracy says in his great book Eat That Frogwhy eat tadpoles when there’s a great, big, ugly frog sitting there? Tackle a frog – a really high value task – first, and serotonin, the feel good drug, flows through your body increasing your happiness and your productivity. Interruptions and unexpected things will happen. But whatever disaster strikes later, you know you’ve achieved something worthwhile.

Keep the tadpoles for later in the day.

Over to you?

So, how do you start your working day? What habits work best for you and what are your time wasters? Do join in the conversation by hitting ‘Reply’ in the comments section.

What next?

If you or your team isn’t making the most of the working day, email me here to book a no-cost, initial Discovery session to see how one-to-one coaching or Taming Time training can help.