5 Tips for Starting a Fresh Work Week

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When Friday rolls around, the weekend is your only thought. During the weekend you are mentally preparing for Monday—what to wear, who to talk to, what is to be accomplished. Let Monday be your springboard for the rest of the week.

Here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero is when you have no emails staring you in the face and causing stress.

Many times, our email inbox is our to-do list, idea bank, and main communication. When you first turn on your computer in the morning, start with getting to Inbox Zero. This is a literal accomplishment. We want to achieve an empty inbox, and settle for nothing less.

Before plugging at your excel page, writing your blog post, or making the first call, you have to free your mind from the number that haunts your sleep; the stressing ‘emails ’ count.

Move the Necessary

An unanswered email, phone call, or contact sheet should not be in your inbox. Most of your emails have a place other than the inbox. Move the necessary emails where they belong, making sure you have not lost any important data.

Archive

References, pictures, and funny work emails should not be in your inbox. Archive them into appropriate folders and move on.

Delete the Rest

Unless it fits in the above categories, delete it. If you are afraid to lose the item, it should have been moved or archived. Delete the items you can do without.

2. De-Clutter Desk

desk

Your desk clutter does nothing good for you. An important mental step is to stop making excuses. Your desk clutter is the worst kind of to-do list possible.

Spending 10-15 minutes each Monday (or every day) de-cluttering will be a worthwhile investment in your time.

Productivity501 recently published a post called “5 Questions to Help Organize Your Desk.” The questions they ask force readers to think about the real reasons behind desk clutter. You can read the entire article here, or read my summary below:

Reading Materials

Be honest with yourself, and rid of the stuff you don’t need to read. Other tips include the use of RSS, getting a bookshelf, or listening to the audio version.

File Away

Ask “Why?”

Asking why each item is on your desk will help you come to the solution needed. Is your filing cabinet too far away? Maybe it is time to bring it closer. Look at each paper individually, and ask “Why?” Spend the time to clean—you won’t regret it.

Required Action

In short, quickly get through the pieces of paper that require 2-5 minutes and store the ones that require longer action in some plastic bin or on-desk filing system.

The Unnecessary

Remove everything you don’t need. Cups, cleaning supplies, CD-spindles should find their place somewhere else and not in your clean space. Or, mark off a “clean space.”

3. Your One Work Goal

Zenhabits inspired my one goal a week work habit. The Amazing Power of One promotes a sense of ease even when we have hundreds of things that we could be doing.

Print out (preferably in large print) your weekly goal. Put this goal somewhere in your peripheral vision (e.g. behind your computer monitor and slightly to the right).

A Fallback

A weekly goal helps you overcome any frustration over your workload. You can never be bored, or feel like you aren’t accomplishing what you think you can. When you feel overwhelmed or don’t know what to do in between meetings, work on your weekly goal. It is your fallback for the uncertain times.

4. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

fruit

One of the most popular posts on Zenhabits (and for a good reason) is a list of healthy breakfast choices.

What everyone seems to know, but very few seem to practice regularly, is eating a hearty and healthy breakfast. Fruits-grains-nuts type of healthy, and not sausage-egg-pancakes.

Start slow and try to do it once a week. Your stubbornness will get you nowhere.

5. Achieve Flow State ASAP

During flow-state, time ceases to exist, and your fingers seem to just move in sync with your brain. Things just…flow. It is important to achieve this as early as you can. After the previous 4 tips are finished, flow state can be achieved with ease.

Priorities

While your goal for the week is Project A, Project B may have an earlier due date. It’s perfectly acceptable to let Project B become your flow-state for the day.

Pushing the Spark

The first 10 minutes, when your thoughts are being composed and you can still hear people chattering around you, are truly the hardest to push through. Keep at it and eventually your mind will drift. Once you have plowed through the distractions, your mind will begin to think faster than your fingers can type, and your project will be nearer to completion.

With practice, you can come in and out of flow-state as you please. When 5 p.m. rolls around, you will kick down the front door with all of you have accomplished.

image credit: gideonstrauss & martinlabar
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6 Responses to “5 Tips for Starting a Fresh Work Week”

  1. Mark - Productivity501 23. Mar, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    I think inbox zero works well for some people, but it is important to make sure it works for you. I spent a lot of time trying to achieve it until I finally realized that having emails in my inbox doesn’t hurt me. I keep anything I might want to reference later in my inbox and delete anything I know I will never need again. This means I have a lot of emails in my inbox, but it works better for me than the other methods.

  2. Carlos Urreta 23. Mar, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Mark, welcome to The Daily Grid!

    Do lots of emails cause you any stress? I’ve had to train my mother to do Inbox zero or else she always feels like she has something to do. What do you think some good ‘self checks’ are for people who may need to do the switch (or need not to make the switch)?

  3. Carson Gentleman 10. Jul, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    amazing that will be healthy :)

  4. Daniel 12. Jul, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    Great tips Carlos! I find myself so much more productive after eating a healthy breakfast.

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