Before Work, Center Your Self and Mind.
“Fortune favors the prepared mind”, as Louis Pasteur said, so keep that quote in mind as you peruse this array of pre-‐work prep tips.
1. Make a list of your tasks for the day. A simple checklist of the things you need to do can be surprisingly helpful at keeping you on track. Aside from ensuring that you don’t forget to do any of the written tasks, when you see how much left you have to do, you can get serious about work. This can also help you avoid forgetting something and embarrassing yourself.
2. Check your agenda for the next few weeks. There are times when tasks that have deadlines weeks from the current date will require preparation. As such, it is the best policy to always know what you should be doing within the next few weeks, so you can manage your time and resources properly. Remember to stay flexible, as changes can happen within those few weeks.
3. Use an app to keep track of your checklist. If you have a smartphone, put it to work and use it to keep track of the things that need doing for the day. Apps like these can also help you prepare your schedule for weeks in advance. Remember that a smartphone is only as smart as the person who is using it.
4. Set up reminders for meetings and tasks. When you set up a reminder on your cellphone, you are reducing the risk that you will run late or miss appointments and tasks altogether. Setting a reminder can also take a load off of your mind and allow you to concentrate better on the task at hand. Do make sure that your reminder ringtone won’t bother nearby people, or you could be lessening their productivity.
5. Prepare all the materials that you need. Though arguably this can be considered part of the work that you do, for argument’s sake let us put it in this category. Having all the tools and supplies close at hand makes it easy to complete tasks because you won’t have to break your concentration (or spend time) going to get something.
6. Set your cellphone to silent or vibrate-only mode. Loud ringtones don’t just break your concentration but also that of the people around you, unless you have your own office or something to that effect. Besides, it would be a bit embarrassing if you were surprised by your own cellphone. We don’t quite recommend turning your cellphone off because there may be urgent matters that can only come to your attention through your cellphone.
7. Have a personal SIM and a work SIM. If you can afford it (and if you have a high volume of message / call traffic on your cellphone), then get different SIM cards for your work and personal lives. You could put them in different cellphones, or on a single dual SIM phone, or just swap them in and out as needed. The idea is that you pay attention when the work phone rings, and can choose to ignore the personal phone until you have the free time to check it.
8. Choose neutral ringtones. This is a little less obvious. Using humorous ringtones or ringtones that carry some sort of emotional significance for you can be distracting. It can also bother nearby people. Using “neutral” ringtones – ringtones that simply notify and do not entertain – means that there won’t be emotional baggage with every ring, and you’re less likely to bother other people.
9. Short message and reminder ringtones are best. Ringtones that last a few seconds at most are best. Imagine if you left your phone on your desk while you stepped away for a bit, and a message came in. A long ringtone for a message that will be waiting when you get back is sure to annoy your coworkers. Choose something short.
10. Manage your e-mail settings. Setting a filter to redirect and categorize your e-‐mail messages can be helpful, especially if you use one e-‐mail address for your work and personal life (which is not recommended, especially if it is a corporate e-‐mail address). This way if something pops up in the personal e-‐mail inbox, you can let it slide ‘til later, while something that comes into the work inbox deserves at least a cursory glance.
11. Proper work space setup. While having your own cubicle means that you can usually add things that express your individuality, adding too much personality to your workspace can be distracting. How can you focus on that spreadsheet when a poster of your favorite actor or actress is but a few feet away, tempting you with their paper gaze? Here’s the tip in a nutshell: Decorate your work space only with things that help you stay focused on the job.
12. Check your tools and equipment. Whether you work in a cubicle or in a greasy garage, you should always check your tools and equipment before starting work. That way you can ensure that you won’t waste time while in the middle of something important later on. Additionally, performing basic checks every day can prevent serious injury or equipment damage by allowing you to identify potential problems before they fail catastrophically. It will also keep you from embarrassing yourself by calling I.T. when your computer is simply unplugged.
13. If you didn’t do so the day before, tidy up. There are times that you might end up going home without cleaning up your work space. While this is sloppy, it is also sometimes unavoidable, especially during crunch periods. In any case, if you come into work after having left your space dirty the day before, your first order of business should be to tidy up in preparation for the day ahead.
14. Distribute data and supplies. People can’t do their jobs if they are not supplied with the data and supplies that they need. If there are supplies or data that needs to be distributed to various personnel, then it should be done as early as possible. Just make sure to check your inboxes to see if there are instructions that say otherwise or make corrections before going about distributing whatever needs to get to the concerned parties.
15. Check the evening news the day before. Every moment you spend not working are points against your productivity. This is why getting stuck in traffic is really a bad thing for anyone doing the daily grind. To avoid this scenario, check the evening news for any announcements for the day after. You will never know when they will close off some streets in your commute to work unless you check. This prevents the stress that comes from knowing that you are getting to work late in the morning. In case such an announcement is made, plan your route accordingly for a smooth commute to work and a better disposition in the morning.
16. Eat a hearty breakfast. Low energy and a bad mood in the morning are often the results of skipping the most important meal of the day. Make it a point to eat your breakfast before going to work and you will see the difference. Drop the coffee-‐and-‐ donut routine and look for something healthier like some fruit pancakes. No time to prepare in the morning? Make breakfast the night before and put it in a plastic container so you can eat it on the way. Just do not forget to pop it out of the refrigerator before you leave for work.
17. Prepare everything you need the day after. In the morning rush to get to work the following morning, it is easy to forget things needed for work. It is not a big deal if you can easily replace them but what if it was your PowerPoint presentation outlining company performance to be presented to the top brass? This is a worst-‐case scenario the must be avoided at all costs. Do this by taking time to prepare everything you need before you go to bed. Make a list and check it twice before you doze off.
18. Have the proper mindset for work. Sometimes, all it takes is the proper mindset to keep working. How could you finish that report when your mind is wandering? With this in mind, it is best to prepare your brain for work the night before you go to the office. When it is finally time to work, you will go straight to business without wasting precious time to motivate yourself while the clock starts ticking. This means you have more time to finish your work and thus increasing your output.
19. Send out tomorrow’s work today. If you have subordinates, you can help them become more productivity by giving them their allotted work tomorrow on the previous afternoon. This lets them plan the next work day and think of how they go at it. In other words, you are helping them work more efficiently by giving them the opportunity to see what they are up against. So help your team become more productive and produces better results by giving them a sneak peek on the days ahead. This helps overall performance as well as boosts intra-‐ office relationships and teamwork.