It’s a common phenomenon: You head into the office early, only to get sucked into the vortex that is your email inbox until noon. Your massive to-do list remains tauntingly untouched, leaving you wondering What have I been doing for the last four hours? Fast Company‘s Elana Gross recently fell victim to a similar predicament, an experience that prompted her to research office productivity and the best ways to start the workday.
For starters, you should avoid clearing your inbox and responding to requests first-thing in the morning. Instead, your time is better spent tackling the most difficult task first, scanning your inbox for timely “red flag” emails, organizing your to-do list from most to least important, and checking in with your team. When completed in this order, you can make sure all your bases are covered without wasting your most productive hours on office maintenance.
“Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do in the morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing it can’t get any worse,” writes Gross. “[This] simply means you should do your most important assignment first. Studies have shown that you have the most willpower in the morning, so harness your motivation mojo and master your most important task bright and early.”