Did you know that how you spend the first 60 minutes of your work day can define how fruitful the rest of it is? As all great leaders will no doubt testify, the first hour sets the tone and is your chance to strategise for the impending day ahead.
Image: Showbit, Eva Chen
Here are the tips we’ve gleaned from our own experiences, as well as those of some of our favourite power woman crushes, from Eva Chen, fashion and tech’s wunderkind; to multi-hyphenate supermodel Karlie Kloss. These women are really running the world, so it helps to take a leaf out of their very productive and successful books:
#1 Identify your top priority task
I like to do this with the help of kikki.K’s uber cute ‘Do it’ checklist. It really helps to spend 5-10 minutes when you sit down in the morning to prioritise all the most important tasks of the day. Be sure to include deliverables, discussions and points that need to be raised within them as well as any extras you should fit in if you have time.
kikki.K’s Do It list, $4.95, shop here
What I most love about this To-do list planner is that is has your usual ticklist points as well as a ‘Priorities’ and ‘For later’ section. Literally what every woman needs. If you could only complete one task today, what would it be? This is number one on your list. This kind of focusing and honing in helps if you’re distracted by unexpected issues that may arise, and we all love that satisfying cross-off when we’ve done with a big task. Psychological studies show that if you complete your biggest task first, you are more likely to be propelled on and complete the rest. Less procrastination equals more productivity.
Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and Facebook COO, welcoming Facebook’s founder back to work after his long parternity leave!
#2 Take the time to check in
This is essential to remember if you’re middle management or a company leader. Though it seems harsh to put it in monetary terms, sometimes we need to all be reminded that a company’s biggest investment and consequent ROI is human capital. Therefore, make time for your colleagues and facetime with those around you every morning. There is no replacement for one-on-one conversation. Check in with your colleagues and team: even just a good morning and a quick “how are you?” helps to build on relationships and make your team dynamics a lot better. Happy teams are hardworking ones.
#3 Teamwork makes the dream work
Whether you’re a CEO or a junior associate, no matter: Your team is your backbone. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed early on in the day from say, the 100 unread emails in your inbox. Take tip #1 to heart and do up that priority list. Also, add in a section of items that you know the team is delivering if you’re in charge; or if you’re part of that on-the-ground team, what you’re collaborating on with colleagues so you can check in and make sure you’re all on track with the project as well as alleviate some of the day’s impending pressure.
The ultimate team? The First Lady, Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union <3
#4 Eat often and eat well
We love this one! Anything that involves eating and feeling good about it is high on our lists! One of our lady boss crushes is Eva Chen, Head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram (the coolest job ever, no?) and she advises making sure your snack drawer is well stocked up as part of your first hour activity. See here for our favourite healthy office snacks to bring to work as well as here for breakfast smoothies you can make and bring with you to consume during that all important first hour.
Image: Emily Fruit Crisps
My personal go-tos? Emily Fruit Crisps for snacking (the banana edition), and a breakfast mix of chia seeds soaked in almond milk, a dash of honey and coconut oil with blueberries and bananas sprinkled on top. Healthy and so, so delicious.
Eating well and eating often is the key to good skin, good health and a productive mind. Your brain functions better when you reach for something healthy in your snack drawer, and definitely when it’s fuelled throughout the day, so don’t skip meals, especially when you have a busy day!
The ladies of hit show ‘Suits’ are self-proclaimed ‘sister-wives’ on set, meaning working together is a dream, Meghan Markle is always asking Sarah Rafferty and Gina Torres for learned wisdom and advice
#5 Ask for advice
Following on from tip 3, identify the tasks you will need to ask for guidance for from your boss or mentor in the first hour of the day. Business is all about relationships, particularly if you’re running your own, and if you work in a dynamic, nurturing workplace, more will get done. Seek advice from your mentor about the most pressing issues and your day will instantly be set up to be more productive. Also, generous leaders are willing to let others learn from their mistakes, and a show of humility is always a great way to start the day!
#6 Press pause
Yes, it can be oh-so-tempting to reply to every email the instant it hits your inbox, but hold up. By opening unimportant emails you set yourself up for procrastination and wasting your important time on tasks that are low-priority, as well as heading into chaotic mode before your day has even begun. Take a 15 minute time-out first thing to brainstorm, especially if you work in the creative field (and to be honest, most jobs require creativity in some way) and really gather your thoughts. Allow yourself to be inspired and innovative before the daily tumult hits and stress builds up.
One of Eva Chen’s signature ‘taxi cab shoefies’ when she takes the time to get to grips with what’s what in the world of fashion, and we presume, check her Instagram
#7 Make sure you’re in the know
In today’s speedier-than-ever world, this tip is an essential one. For those with company social media accounts, check if there have been any significant responses from followers and retweet and share any interesting engagements. If you’re in charge and have a significant following, share the company’s posts on your personal page to boost the corporate account. Eva Chen told Forbes how she always does this on her cab ride to work. Set email filters on important messages so that the most important ones from clients, colleagues and industry news updates appear at the top of your inbox and don’t require a hunt. If you aren’t already, subscribe to well-rounded industry intelligence regarding your role; for example, The Business of Fashion’s daily insights are my morning must-read.
Karlie Kloss, supermodel and coder in-the-making in conversation with Anne Wojcicki, founder of a genetics-testing company
#8 Read and recite
Whether it’s a favourite quote, life mantra, a verse, a picture of your upcoming vacation destination – whatever acts as a focus point for you – post it by your desk and look at it every morning. Reminding yourself of your personal mantra and what you’re working hard for will help you when the going gets tough throughout the day. We love Karlie Kloss’ motivational quote as shared by her YouTube partner-in-crime Casey Nietsat: “”You can be two of three things: good and fast but not cheap, fast and cheap but not good, and good and cheap but not fast.” (Source: FastCompany)