Top Ten Things to Do Before Ten to Ensure a Productive Day

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” — Benjamin Franklin, U.S. publisher and Founding Father.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” — Mark Twain, American humorist.


Top Ten Things to Do Before Ten to Ensure a Productive Day - Laura StackWhether you achieve full alertness within minutes of waking up or require a caffeine infusion before you can think straight (like me), the early morning hours represent a crucial productivity period. What you accomplish in the first few hours after rising can set the tone for your entire day’s productivity at work.

New research into sleep habits emphasizes the value of early-morning productivity. According to a recent study in the journal Emotion, early risers tend to be healthier and happier than night owls—probably because society at large caters to day-workers much better than it does to the nocturnal.

So which would you prefer to be: a dour dweller of the dark, or a chipper early riser? When considered from a personal productivity standpoint, the answer’s obvious. Cheerful people tend to be more productive than unhappy ones, and the same goes for those who come into work the earliest. No mystery there: you can get a lot done when you face fewer external distractions.

Recently, I was thinking about all the things I tend to accomplish before that inevitable slide down the productivity hill after lunch. I jotted down a list of ten items I achieved by 10 AM that day. I thought it might be helpful to share it with you:

  • I wrote a HIT list the evening before. That way, I could jump right in as soon as I got to work.
  • I got eight hours of sleep. You can’t maximize your personal productivity if you can’t keep your eyes open.
  • I jumped right out of bed. No snooze button for me!
  • I exercised. It helps me wake up, and keeps me healthy and energetic.
  • I ate breakfast. You’ve got to feed the machine, so you have enough energy to keep going until lunchtime.
  • I did my morning ritual. I took a shower, prayed, and drank coffee over the news.
  • I arrived at work on time. I want to maximize my productivity, so I don’t drag my heels when it’s time face my professional responsibilities.
  • I checked in with my staff on the day’s priorities. This helped let me triage my task list, adjust my schedule, and determine what I needed to do first.
  • I completed my most important task. I narrowed my focus to laser sharpness and got to work. Before long, I’d “eaten my biggest frog.”
  • I cleared my email. Email represents my primary means of communicating with clients, colleagues, and staff. But if you let it, email can devour the most productive parts of your day. So I eliminated this distraction quickly and turned to more important matters. I didn’t check it again until late in the day.

Now that you’ve seen a typical example of my list of “top ten before ten,” what would yours look like? I’m always looking to fine-tune my day! If you don’t already use the method, try it a few times. See if you actually get more done in the morning. Once you understand that, it may help you pump up the volume on your workplace productivity.