Whether you are a teleworker for a Fortune 100 company or an entrepreneur working from your home office, you know that how you start your morning can set you up for a great day – or an utterly miserable one. I’ve had my fair share of both, and I found that there are some key things – five of them in fact! – that you can do to help prep yourself for a day of success.
Planning ahead is the best way to set yourself up for success. Before you log off for the day (or, if you forgot – log back in!) check your schedule and make sure there are no surprise meetings or morning deadlines on your calendar. I’ve had the occasional morning where I have flipped on the computer, just to find out that I have a web conference in less than 5 minutes with someone on the East Coast.
Don’t succumb to The Pajama Effect. You don’t know what the day is going to throw at you. The salesman at your front door, a surprise visit from the boss, or a team breakout session where you have to meet via webcam. The allure of slipping into work in your comfy jammies, toes snug in your favorite bunny slippers, face makeup and worry free sounds great – until something unexpected pops up. Then it’s a mad dash to brush your hair, change your shirt and pray that you didn’t just miss that top button. Be professional. You are a professional.
Computers tend to take a little while to wake up. I like to turn my computers on (yes, I use three during the course of the day) and put in my passwords and logins for the various networks. This can take a while – but I’m not complaining! The time it takes to start up my computer and log into all of those firewalls means that my work environment is safe and secure. A minute or two to get fully connected is worth the time, and besides – it’s the perfect opportunity to grab a cuppa.
When you’re ready, make sure that you close your door. Even if there is no one else at home (I happen to have a gaggle of boys who are at home during the summer) you need to get serious. It’s a ritual. It sets you in the right frame of mind to be productive. If you don’t have a door, put up a sign, something that says I am now in work mode. And don’t let anyone burst into your work time, if you have family at home you will need to train them that this is “Getting Serious” time.
Notice, I didn’t say to read your emails. Just open up Outlook or your preferred email client and see how many have flooded in, how many have “High Importance” flags on them from the boss, or those that might be from an existing client with a quickly approaching deadline. Those are going to be your fires that you need to put out. Don’t put them out right now, just mentally tack them on to your to-do list. Or, if you have a real to-do list, even better. Jot them down and then assess which needs your attention first – including all of the things you already had on your to do list. If you don’t let some of those emails sit in a controlled-burn state, you will spend your entire morning putting out fires.
Those are just a few of the things I do first thing in the morning to set myself up for success. They work great, and I know if I skip one of them, there is a high probability that chaos will creep in at some point during the day.
Question: What are some of the morning rituals that you use to set yourself up for success as a virtual worker?