12 Tasks to Finish Before Noon

Summarized from an article by Jada A. Graves, U.S. News and World Report.

A recent study published in an American Psychological Association journal, Emotion, suggests that early birds are generally happier than night owls.

Self-professed “morning people” reported feeling happier and healthier than night owls. Researchers hypothesize that one of the reasons could be because society caters to a morning person’s schedule.

Those who like rising with the sun are also the most productive employees in the office. Take note of the tasks these high-functioning, productive, and more awake employees have completed before lunch:

1. Make a work to-do list the day before. The opportune time to plan a day’s tasks is the night before. If you make your to-do schedule in the morning, you will lose office time writing it. Doing it the night before will also help you sleep better.

2. Get a full night’s rest. Lack of sleep affects your concentration level, and therefore, your productivity. Most health experts advise getting a minimum eight hours of shut-eye each night.

3. Avoid hitting snooze. Petitioning for nine more minutes, then nine more, then another nine is a slippery slope that leads to falling back asleep and falling behind on your morning prep. Ultimately it also leads to lateness. Set your alarm clock a little bit earlier and get out of bed on the first alarm.

4. Exercise. Schedule your Pilates class for the a.m. instead of after work. Exercise improves mood and energy levels and there have been studies done on employees who’ve exercised before work or during the work day. Those employees have been found to have better time-management skills, an improved mental sharpness and be more patient with their peers.

5. Practice a morning ritual. Institute a morning routine aside from your exercise routine. Whether you opt to meditate, read the newspaper, or surf the Web, it’s important to have that quiet time with just you.

6. Eat breakfast. Food provides the fuel you’ll need to concentrate, and breakfast is particularly important since it recharges you after you’ve fasted all night. Try munching on something light and healthy in the morning, and avoid processed carbs that could zap your energy.

7. Arrive at the office on time. If you’re not a new employee, then you’ve already figured out the length of your average commute. Allot a safe amount of time to make it to work on schedule.

8. Check in with the boss and/or employees. If your closest work associates aren’t productive, then neither are you. Good workers set priorities that align with their company’s goals, and they’re transparent about their progress.

9. Tackle the big projects first. You can dive right into work upon arriving in the office, since you made your to-do list the night before. Start with the hardest tasks. Don’t jump into meaningless projects when you’re at your mental peak for the day.

10. Avoid morning meetings. If you have any say on meeting times, schedule them in the afternoon. You should use your prime skills during the morning which is most productive time of the day. Scheduling morning meetings could rob employees of their peak performance, and ultimately cost the company.

The exception to this is if your meeting is the most important task of the day. Sometimes you have to schedule a crucial meeting, or a client meeting, in which case you’d want to plan for a time when employees are at their peak.

11. Allot time for following up on messages. Discern between mindless email/voicemail checking and conducting important business. Checking your inbox every couple of minutes takes time away from important tasks. Instead, set a schedule to check and respond to email in increments. Consider doing so at the top of each hour, to ensure that clients and colleagues receive prompt responses from you.

12. Take a mid-morning break. Get up and stretch your legs or stay seated and indulge in a little Internet surfing. Don’t abuse this privilege. You should take 10-minute breaks occasionally. Companies that ban any kind of social media use, texting, or personal calls will find it to be detrimental.

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