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The first hour at work can be a game-changer. Great leaders know that if done right, the first hour can set the tone for a productive day and be an opportunity to strategize before office chaos begins. Don’t have a first-hour game plan? We’ve delved into the routines of seven successful women, from actresses to CEOs, to find out how they launch their workday.
Read on to find out the secret to mastering your first hour in the office.
Jessica Alba, actress and co-founder of The Honest Company
Working mom Jessica Alba says her typical day is usually filled with meetings. “I wake up early, get the kids out of the door, sometimes I drop them off and sometimes I go straight to the office, and I am usually in meetings all day,” she tells Forbes. As the co-founder and face of The Honest Company, Alba knows the value of focusing on one top-level task. “My day-to-day stress is running my business and knowing I am part of a bigger movement with my company. I have my hands in all the creative decisions, from marketing assets to product development to packaging. It’s a lot of work. I am being pulled in a lot of different directions,” she says.
First thing: Sift through your task list and set your number one priority. Ask yourself, if you were to only complete one task today, what would it be? Honing in on one important must-do job will help focus your attention if distractions arise and boost your satisfaction at the end of the day when you’re able to cross it off.
Lauren Conrad, designer and entrepreneur
Great leaders know that business isn’t just about meeting deadlines, it’s about building relationships. Website founder, designer, and reality star Lauren Conrad says she always makes time to talk to colleagues and make a connection at the start of the day. “Successful women don’t have to be stuck to their desk 24/7. Talking with other people during work hours can help you to get your motivation back or get inspiration for your work,” she told Career Girl Daily. Conrad’s advice isn’t frivolous— a Gallup study found that having close friends at work boosts satisfaction by 50 percent and that people with a best friend at work were up to seven times more engaged.
First thing: Make time for colleagues. Rather than heading straight for your cubicle, take a moment at the start of the day to check in with people in your office. It doesn’t need to be a long-winded conversation; a quick chat will help establish an important connection and build a relationship.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
Imagine waking up and checking your inbox to find 800 unread messages. That’s often a reality for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who says her first hour of work is crucial for setting an agenda to help her stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Mayer tells Money she creates a task list each day with “five high-priority things to focus on,” as well as “a list for each person I work with or interact with, of what they’re working on or what I expect from them.” Her task list is always numbered, so from the very start of her day she can see what to prioritize. She also doesn’t stress about ticking off all the jobs. “If I did [get to the bottom of the list] it would be a real bummer,” Mayer shared at a conference. “Because think about all those things at the very bottom of your to-do list that really shouldn’t take time out of your day.”
First thing: Create a three-level priority list. Jot down three headings: First, second, and people. Under the first headline, write your most important tasks. Use the next headline as a second-tier to-do list, which includes smaller tasks that deserve your attention next. Last, use the third headline like Mayer, and take note of what your team needs to achieve today. The three-level list will give your tasks more structure so you won’t be overwhelmed.
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