We’ve all had this experience: You get to work an hour early to gain the upper hand on your overflowing inbox. You pour a cup of coffee to fuel your early morning productivity and start sorting through email, only to look up at the clock hours later to realize it’s already noon and you haven’t crossed off anything on your neverending to-do list. It’s a common source of consternation and angst as you contemplate where did the day go and, more importantly, why didn’t you get anything substantive done?! Because you’re not alone in this, here are a few productivity tips. So grab another cup of coffee and start making these four things a staple in your morning work routine.


1. Eat the frog. Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing it can’t get any worse. That doesn’t mean you have to go and switch out your soy latte for a frog — it 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.

2. Scan for red flags. Productivity experts recommend that you not spend your morning reading and answering emails. Focus your morning on what you need to get done — not the little things people need from you. Quickly scan your emails to see if there is anything high-priority that will affect your goals for the day, then keep the trains moving. As Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check Email in the Morning, told The Huffington Post, “Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless… there is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.” So, if you want to be more productive throughout your day, step away from your inbox in the morning. Seriously.

3. Rally your to-do list. Organizing your to-do list might sound like yet another thing to add to your to-do list, but doing so is like creating a compass to get you to that golden “closing time” hour. How do you decide which task is more important than another? Use time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam’s advice and quickly ask yourself five questions: Does it take a step toward a big professional goal? Does your boss say it’s a top priority? Does it make you money? Does it lighten your mental load? Can it only be done today? Once you have your list organized, break down any big tasks into specific actions you’ll take to accomplish them.

4. Check in with your team. It’s small but mighty: Say hello to your colleagues in the morning. Not only will it help you start the day in a good mood, but they’ll be much more likely to help a friendly colleague than a grumplestiltskin if you need help putting out a fire later that afternoon.

What is your trick for staying productive during the work day? Tweet us @BritandCo and share your tips with us!

This post was originally published on Levo League by Elana Gross.

(Photo via Getty)