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The First 10 Minutes of Your Day

| December 16, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading, “How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day” <>, appeared in the HBR blog and is from the pen of Ron Friedman, founder of ignite80, a consulting firm that helps leaders build thriving organizations.  

Friedman notes that if you were given the privilege of working in the kitchen of legendary chef Anthony Bourdain, you wouldn’t dare even boil water without attending to a ritual that’s essential for any self-respecting chef:  mise-en-place.  Mise-en-place, or the Meez, translates into “everything in its place.”  It involves studying a recipe, thinking through the tools and equipment that will be needed, and assembling the ingredients in the right proportions before you begin.  It’s the planning phase of every meal, the moment when chefs evaluate the totality of what they are trying to achieve and create and the action plan for the meal ahead.

The “Meez” forces the chef to think ahead and that saves her from having to distractedly search for items midway through.  And that, in turn, allows the chef to channel her full attention to the dish before them.  

The point here, of course, is that taking such an approach would have value for each of us as we begin our day.  But, note that doing this is more than making a list of the tasks we are going to work on during the day.  No, it means that for each task first developing a plan, mapping out each step in detail and then assembling all the information that is needed before we begin the work.  As you create your plan, you break down the complex tasks into specific single actions.  You map each step out in advance, thus minimizing complex thinking later in the day and making procrastination less likely.  

As the last step in your planning, you prioritize.  Where do you start?  Friedman suggests that you actually begin prioritization by asking yourself the following question the moment you sit at your desk:  The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  What have I achieved?

He notes that by starting the morning with a mini-planning session, you can “front load important decisions to a time when your mind is fresh.  You’ll also notice that having a list of concrete action items (rather than a broad list of goals) is especially valuable later in the day, when fatigue sets in and complex thinking is harder to achieve.”

If you’re not doing your planning each morning, I suggest giving this approach a try.  I am finding that it is very helpful to me.

Have a wonderful holiday!  The Tuesday Reading will return on January 6, 2015.

.  .  .  .     jim