[trx_quote cite=”#” title=”Mandy Green”]A pretty consistent message being sent is that successful people understand the importance of having control over their mornings and know how to use that time wisely…[/trx_quote]
6 Things Successful Coaches Do In The First Hour Of Their Workday
I read a lot about how successful people manage their day so that I can be more productive during the day. A pretty consistent message being sent is that successful people understand the importance of having control over their mornings and know how to use that time wisely. These people are able to weed out the noise in their first hour and focus on what matters to grow their career or business.
The first hour of the workday is critical for coaches, since it can affect your productivity level and mindset for the rest of the day.
Now, a lot of coaches I have spoken to over the last year tell me that they are buried in minutiae. Or at least that’s how they feel. Too many emails to read, phone calls to make, text messages to send, errands to run, practices to plan, recruiting events to attend, books to read, and camps to run.
Something’s got to give. In most cases, unfortunately for coaches, they are putting in longer and longer hours and sacrificing their personal rest and recovery or family time.
Coaching doesn’t have to be this way. You can change your relationship with time and control your day better by establishing a good morning routine.
Today I want to show you how to maximize your productivity by taking full advantage of the first few hours of the workday. Jumpstarting your day the right way will not only get you started on the right foot but can help prevent those dreaded end-of-day crises from erupting. Leverage your morning hours as effectively as possible by following these seven simple steps.
1. Have a plan
I have said in my Green Time Management Workbook for Coaches that planning the day, week, or month ahead is an important time management tool to keep your career, program, and team progressing in the direction you want them to go. Using the mornings (or the night before) to do big-picture thinking helps you prioritize and set the trajectory of the day. I have found that very few coaches spend much time thinking about this question. Every time management guru will tell you that the most productive people look at their larger goals in order to better prioritize their daily tasks. It’s easy to jump in and ‘just do it’ when you get into the office. But it’s hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going and filling your days with unimportant tasks. Without a plan, we tend to become part of somebody else’s plan. Once you are clear about where you want your program to go, decide what are the 3 most important tasks that you’d like to accomplish in order for you to feel like the day was a success and will ultimately take you a step closer to reaching your career, program, or team goals. Then put it in your schedule. Writing down your goals for each day the previous evening before you retire will leave you with no guesswork when you arise the following morning.
When you wake up every morning you should have a plan, a blueprint of what you’re about to do for the first hour of your day. Having to make too many decisions, regardless of how small and insignificant they are is a sure-fire way to decrease your productivity and obliterate your mental willpower.
The first hour of the morning can and will dictate whether you ultimately feel like a success or a failure at the end of the day. It’s that important.
Sure, not every day will be an epic win, but strategizing in this way will help to move the ball forward.
2. Get in Early
Ideally, get in an hour or 2 before the chaos starts. Being an early bird gives you a period of uninterrupted, near magical time where you can work on your major goals in isolation, shielded from the screaming demands you will no doubt face throughout the course of the day. Those early hours in the office (or even at home) are a great time to focus on your recruiting or another important work project because it tends to be quieter and more distraction-free. What’s more, spending time on it at the beginning of the day ensures that it gets your attention before others (kids, staff, bosses) use it all up. You’ll have more mental energy, focus, and willpower to finish your priority projects. “Research shows that willpower decreases over the course of the day, as your energy gets ‘spent’ on stress and self-control,” says Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigle, Ph.D, from Stanford University. That is why you must attack your priorities first thing in the morning. If you wait to do your recruiting more towards the end of the day, writing or texting your important recruiting information is easy to skip when you’ve been in meetings all day, are tired and hungry, and have to figure out what’s for dinner. That’s why many successful people put in an hour or so on their important projects before they officially start their days.
3. Email Routine
All time management experts will tell you to not check your email first thing in the morning. However, I’m pretty sure 99% of us do check email pretty near the start of the day and email is an important part of our job. The trick is to have a proactive routine with it first thing in the morning so you are not reacting to it all day long. You can see the article I wrote describing my email routine at www.dantudor.com. After about 2 years of experimenting with this, this is what I found works best for me. I open my email first thing when I get in. I do one of four things with my email; delete it, forward it to one of my assistants, respond if it will take less than 2 minutes, or file it and save it to work on later. Try to spend no more than 15 minutes on this. Then shut your email down until after you have gotten at least one important project done.
4. Check in with your people
A 10-minute meeting with your fellow coaches (if you have them) is a great way to start the day and to keep everyone motivated and on course. Also taking the time to greet your staff first thing with a smile will help build rapport and camaraderie and it can have a significant impact on their attitude and productivity throughout the day. Discuss the plan of action and get everybody focused on their most important responsibilities for the day. If you are reading this and are the head coach, I’m telling you, your assistants will greatly appreciate if you walk in with a smile, have already forwarded to them all of the recruiting emails you got since yesterday, and are organized and have an action plan for what needs to get done during the day. Make are all questions are answered, then leave each other alone for the next couple hours so all can get to work without needing to interrupt each other.
5. Tackle what’s most important
Once your staff meeting is done, go back to your office, close the door, shut off your phone and email, block off as much time as you need (I do 90 minutes) and get to work on your most important task. I advise a lot of coaches to work on writing their recruiting emails for 90 minutes first thing in the morning because their mind is fresh. Research has shown that we are in our most determined, productive state several hours after waking up… this is the ideal time to knock out those big important tasks before moving on to smaller, lower impact tasks which do not require the same high level of focus. Writing requires discipline, and research finds that willpower is at its peak early in the day. “Like a muscle, willpower gets fatigued from overuse in the course of the day as you respond to distractions and difficult people” says Laura Vanderkam, author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”
By doing this first, you will clear your mind and to create the momentum that will carry you through the rest of your day. Try to save less-important tasks for later in the day, or delegate them to others, so you can keep your focus on what’s most important. I attribute most of our recruiting success to this one morning routine. The quality of work that I am putting out is so much higher first thing in the morning vs when I used to wait until later on in the day. The reason is that by the end of the day, I was tired and other coaching and family activities would get in the way.
6. Plan a mid-morning break
Whether it’s a quick walk around the office, a cup of coffee in the break room, or a phone call outside, taking a quick break during the middle of your morning will give you a refreshed viewpoint on your current situation, which can lead to breakthrough thinking and new ideas. Encourage your fellow coaches to join you during your break so you can work through issues or kick around ideas. Standing up for just a few minutes every hour can do wonders for your well-being. Set an hourly alarm to remind yourself to rise, stretch and take a lap around the office. If you must remain seated for long periods, consider bringing in some good-posture reinforcement: The Lumo Back is a device that can be strapped around the lower back and core, reminding a person through gentle vibrations to sit up straight.
Yes, I understand that like a boxer’s fight plan, everything changes once you take that first punch to the face (although hopefully your day doesn’t literally begin with that). At some point, your best-laid plans will encounter an emergency that you must deal with, whether it is a sick child, a hacked website, or a fire at the office.
I have followed the same morning schedule day after day for the last year.
Great mornings don’t just happen. They’re planned and nurtured. It’s about creating a routine that works, that keeps you inspired and not just wired, about making you happier and satisfied. The moves can take some adjusting, but will put you in the company of some of the most successful creatives and leaders working today. This infographic pulls together research from sleep experts and productivity thought leaders to help you not only take back your morning, but add hours to your week.
[Ed Note: Mandy Green is the creator of BusyCoach Coaching Productivity Strategies (Join her on Facebook) and the author of the BusyCoach Guide and BusyCoach Planner for College Coaches, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your time and energy with research of proven methods in your career, in your business and in your personal life. She has created a unique daily planning system to help College Coaches stay on track for these goals each and every day. Click here to follow the exact 5-minute system you can use to improve your life.]