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Cover image for What do you do within the first 30 minutes of starting your work day?

What do you do within the first 30 minutes of starting your work day?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ใƒป1 min read

Whether a job or working on your portfolio or side projects, etc. How do you typically start? Is your routine consistent or varied?

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In the morning I'm rested and renewed, so not squandering that mental and physical state is very important for me. I focus on my core responsibilities that I need to get done which are usually my programming tasks. I'm starting with getting a drink, opening my editor plus any documents I need, then getting going on coding. I know what I need to do, so I'm not fussing around with to-do lists, reminders, or wondering what I should pick up next. I am trying to stay consistent in that routine.

That usually means getting up a little earlier and working before everyone else, but it is huge for my productivity. No distractions from emails, chats, or meetings. There isn't much to induce stress and anxiety. Tasks that seem daunting late in the afternoon really aren't that bad with a couple of focused hours in the morning after a good night's rest. I'm not a morning person and don't enjoy it, but it feels good to have that quiet time to code and make significant progress.

 

Being someone who actually gets proportionally more-tired for every 15 minutes I sleep beyond about the 5.5 hour-mark, it's long been my default to start my day early ...even earlier now that my "commute" is one flight of stairs from my bed to my couch. :p

But, it's always been great to have a few hours of uninterrupted time to focus on things.

 

Wait for our TEST environment to get brought up by hand.

Every.
Single.
Day.

 

By hand??? Oof.

For anything that actually needs to persist to the next day (that also isn't a core support-service like login- or vaulting-hosts, GitLab, Jenkins, etc.), we add them to our power-scheduler.

 

We have a scheduling tool, but bringing up the environment isn't my wheelhouse. I just test the things. ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃโค๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Group I work for is the technical cloud-enablement group. Our group got created months before the first cloud-services users started to explore moving to cloud. Because the budgets were allocated to those other groups, we were pretty much forced by necessity to implement scheduling tools so we wouldn't blow our budgets each month.

Necessity: the mother of invention. =)

 

Are you humble-bragging that you have a test environment?

 

If it worked like it was supposed to, then yes Sir. ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

Honestly, that is what I do for the first 30 minutes of every workday.

Besides, everyone knows by now to only test in Production.

At least, everyone outside of my enterprise. ๐Ÿ˜

 

I actually had to re-read that a few times to make sure it said what I thought it said.

And now I am sure it says what I think it says, I can only politely say "wait, what?!"

 

The joys of decades old ancient codebases, mainframes and 2018 frontend ui frameworks.

Real treat! We did it again today! ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

 

Coffee, read emails, morning standup

Email routine is delete anything spammy (Jira and Gitlab notifications), archive anything vaguely useful (official workplace heads-up stuff), and leave anything in the inbox that needs dealt with for later (lol I'm not that important).

If one of the dumb Jira emails was from the daily subscription for support tickets, pull those up with the Jira board in preparation for stand up screensharing. I mostly just gesture towards the board with my mouse during stand up.

Once all that's out of the way, I can get into the day :)

 
  • get a coffee
  • refresh on work done yesterday / this week
  • gauge if I have important tasks need doing because Iโ€™m a dependency for others
  • gauge if I have important tasks for myself
  • gauge if I have dependencies on others
  • plan day
  • send requests for peopleโ€™sโ€™ time
  • answer request for my time
  • start work
 

Routine is pretty consistent. After arriving at the office I quickly eat breakfast while checking emails, then its DEV stand up where we cover what we did yesterday, plan for today, any stucks etc.

 

I have one of those small, cheesy "todo list" note pads.

I generally spend the start of office hours writing down all the things that are on my mind that need to be done. This includes aggregating small TODOs from JIRA, Slack, calendar etc. It might sound like repeating what is there, but it helps me keep an awareness of how the day looks in a centralised, analog fashion (emphasis on analog).

I always leave a little bit of space on the left, so then I go back over the list after writing all the TODOs and number them from 1..n in terms of priority to use throughout the day and also attempt to "guesstimate" and allocate time (generously). So it might look like this:

[  ] 5 (1hr) Prep notes for X
[  ] 4 (3hr) Add e2e tests for X
[ x ] 1 (2hr) Refactor X
[  ] 3 (30min) Email support about X
[ x ] 2 (90min) Write Performance self-review

I find it does the following:

  1. Sets me up for what my day looks like.
  2. Gives me an easily accessible place on my table to check things off and feel like I am accomplishing things.
  3. Helps me correctly position my availability to others and helps with saying "no" to things or knowing what can give.
  4. Helps position how much time I need on something to others. This is almost always impossible, but I've found over time that my "generous" time has refined and become more accurate to the unknowns.

It is also where I try to stay mindful of external things I also need to do throughout the day (doctor appointments, etc).

Maybe its just the routine of doing so, but without it can feel like I have no idea what I am doing and finish the day forgetting some of the important things that I have done!

 

I love a good to-do list! It's not as sophisticated as yours, but it helps me quickly see what jobs I have on for the day :) I always prep my list for the next day just before leaving work.

 

If you have a W10 box, MS ToDo is awesome for the content in your image.

 

My routine when I first start my workday is:

  • Fresh cup of coffee or tea.
  • Journal to understand my intentions for today.
  • Todo list for the work features.
  • Mon, Wed, Fri - read through emails. JIRA ticket cleanups. Kind of nothing tasks that make me feel productive.
  • Tue, Thur - I dive straight into focused work. Quit slack, headphones on.

Generally, this is pretty consistent. It's only on days my dog wakes me up and I can't go back to sleep where everything falls apart. Didn't realize how important sleep was until I got older.

 

I was introduced to Bullet Journaling on Saturday, and it already seems to be something that will solve a few recurring time management hurdles leftover from my head injury. So, that'll be my new "first 30 minutes" thing! (I hope to update later on how that's going).

 

I've been using this method for 2 months and I've got to say it transformed my life.
Maybe it's because I am still young (17) and haven't explored many productivity solutions but I know for sure that this method is amazing - brings the results.

I wish the same to you!

 

Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.

 

My routine is pretty consistent and I prefer it that way, although I love to switch things up here and there when I'm moved. I work from home and am an early riser, so after (showering, then) finding my fav pj pants and a work-appropriate top to put on, I walk my Great Dane, grab an Earl Grey tea, say good morning to my kids (who are usually awake when I am) and fire up my computer in my home office.

After I log into work, I typically:

  • check my email
  • sign in with the team by posting a "Good Morning"
  • assess the time-sensitive/dependency priorities for the day
  • update my work/goal related social media accounts
  • start working on things from most time-sensitive to least

Because some of the things I do on social are intertwined with my work, I've made it a point to check those accounts in the morning so that I'm not wondering where I am through my work with what I need to post/update. I find that the anxiety of 'knowing I have to do something' gets weighty the longer I put it off, so I try to use my morning productivity to knock out as many tasks as I can.

 

At the moment, I make breakfast.

I've never been able to eat breakfast for a while after waking up, and waking up now happens later (no commute). And it only takes five minutes to set up my computers and another five minutes to check on emails and so on.

Part of my work day? Sure. My work starts with meetings, over zoom, and I might as well make use of the time, so I basically live-stream making something tasty. Last Friday was a smoked-sausage and mushroom bagel with coffee.

 

Spend ~10 minutes in quiet making my pour-over coffee. This sounds pretentious, but it is the only time of day where I have ZERO external input. Having personal reflection, isolation, and silence is important.

Once I have coffee in hand:

  • If there was a problem I couldn't figure out from the previous day, usually sleeping on it does the trick. I start on the problem right away. This means skipping the usual morning message checks.
  • Otherwise I do all of the following:
    • Check email, SLACK for anything important
    • Run through all my GH notifications (usually over 20+, some I don't care about others I do). This usually builds my task list for the day.
    • Start handling GH notifications (issue comments, PR review requests, etc.).
 

I start the timer with a pomodoro app and 25min for reading mail, reviewing pulls and setup tasks. If time is left I read a random blog post or check hackernews, after that the daily's meetings and work :)

 

Humans are such creatures that really need rituals. Just remember religions, oriental eating culture or "I'll start running from the next Monday I promise".

If you want to get started quickly, you need some kind of ritual. The separation is important and that's what made rituals what they are. Allow yourself to have fun and do everything you want before the ritual but after it you'll have to focus.

For me such a ritual is our daily standup. Before the standup I watch youtube and have fun, but after I start working.

 

First I look at open issues/notes/e-mail/messages/etc. Just to get a quick overview over what's urgent. Then make a quick list of todos for the day (if I don't have one yet from the day before), organize them by priority, put on some music and grab something to drink, and start working on my todos :)

 

I always start the day with a coffee and favourite articles and new post on artificial intelligence and sometimes if I buy a book related to my subjects my morning usually starts with them.
It's a good practise I mean it's always help me to brush up daily applicable skill.

 

Reboot our dev servers (we've got a lot of projects on the go at any one time and someone inevitably forgets to stop their supervisor tasks so things like big imports get left running and kill performance.

Review any outstanding pull requests across and projects I'm managing to see where everyone is.

Go through any of my own tasks that I'm waiting on people for, etc.

Then I go grab breakfast, spend 10-15 minutes checking for any work related news before planning out my day.

 

Go over my notes and tasks from yesterday and prep priorities for the day ahead along with anguishing over my calendar on why it's filled with so many meetings ๐Ÿคฃ

Jokes aside I do my only and best work very early in the morning before everyone else needs me throughout the day.

 

When I wake up I usually take a bath and leave my house to reach the coworking space I'm using which is around 40 minutes away. That means I get there around an hour and a half after I wake up. While driving I listen to an audiobook. So by the time I get to my desk, my mind is already active and totally awake. But I can't start working right away and since I do all the tests and PRs at the end of each work day, I only have to deal with new issues and features every morning.

I start my day by going through my Github dashboard, dev.to, stackoverflow and programming subreddits. Most of the time I see something interesting which I browse a bit and bookmark it for later. This allows me to switch from Middle Earth or Alagaesia or Deep space to how JS works and JamStack. It's a hard switch but the browsing helps a lot.

 

I clean and prepare the coffee machine (because I am here waaayyy to early).

Then I do sort of a To-Do list and check the To-Do list from yesterday.

I set a minimum goal for this day.

Checking Mails

(checking dev.to)

 

I have been working from home so there isn't really a "warm-up" time at the beginning of the work day like we had when I went to the office (chat around the coffee machine).

The first thing I do to start working is to do some code review. Since the team works in different time zones, there is always bound be some open Pull Requests.

 

My first 30 minutes of work falls just before the daily standup, so I will write up my quick update for the team channel, and then I'll take a look here because if I start coding, I can't pay attention to the standup.

And let's be transparentโ€”making coffee is usually the first step. I just found my Fairlife curdled in the bottle. No bueno.

 

I start off my daily work-event log, prepare a new to-do list with things i must' get done and things i would like to get done that day, coffee and then off to team status.

I swear, that event log is why i stay sane after i became team-lead with all the random interruptions.

 

My morning is not always consistent, but right now the first thing is get a cup of coffee and eat my breakfast that I brought. I respond to last night's emails and create any I need to keep my projects updated while I eat breakfast. This normally takes 15 to 20 minutes. I then talk with my team for about 10 minutes to ensure we know what we are doing for the day and what we have accomplished.

To me, nothing is more important than taking that 10 minutes to talk over what you've done and what you are going to do.

 

I'm not a morning person - when I worked remote for a company stateside, I almost had to tz-shift backwards - so I start with lots of tea.

Then I skim over the state of the world - read up on Slack, check on long-running jobs (current one started 5 days ago and will finish this evening), and generally do what I'd call "swapping in context" - looking at the open editors and letting the recollection slowly dawn on what I parked last night.

Then it's "stand-ups", which, being all-remote at the moment, are much more verbose than an office stand-up. I like this, as I'm always remote, and this is my social touchstone of the day.

After that, I've got a good idea of the state of the world, I know what the priorities are for the day, I'm ready to continue work on whatever I was working on before, and I can crack on with whatever else is most needed.

But first, another cup of tea.

 

Roll out of bed soon after 10 am, stumble downstairs and open the laptop.
Stare blankly at chat messages and emails until they gradually come into focus. Archive all of them. Kettle is ready.
Finish catching up on chats and drinking coffee.
Open a Tiddlywiki entry for today and add one or two vague bullet points for what I want to do today. Usually involves copying the things I didn't finish yesterday. Recursively expand each task with a few indented bullet points until some concrete next actions become obvious.
Oh, it's 7pm. Well, maybe tomorrow then.

 

I wake up late mostly still in half asleep state. I immediately check for mails then browse a bit as i get up and after getting freshened up, I get seated on my desk for work for right until evening. Not at all a good lifestyle, I. Know

 

I recently bought a standing desk with a treadmill. The first 30 minutes is typically a brisk walk on the treadmill as I get caught up on emails, groom Jira tickets, and other tasks that donโ€™t involve a ton of typing. I also spend some of this time doing some scanning of the stock market for trade ideas on my secondary source of income.

 

Pretty much the same on weekdays. Go through my phone messages, reply to the important once, go through my emails as well before I step off the bed. Then get off the bed, take a shower, then a cup of tea.

Then start my work with a 30min web search of tech articles, blogs (that's how I came across this post) so that I share with colleagues interesting things happening out there. Then afterward, if its Monday plan my weekly code tasks, the rest of the days I start checking on my weekly tasks, which hasn't been done and set my mind straight to accomplish that task by end of day, or break it down.

 

I start working! I usually prepare for each day at the end of the previous day. So when the day starts, I just follow the plan I set for myself. The morning hours for me are high productivity hours, so this helps me.

 

I recently bought a standing desk with a treadmill. The first 30 minutes now is typically a brisk walk on the treadmill as I catch up on emails, from Jira tickets, and other tasks that donโ€™t require a ton of typing. During this time Iโ€™ll also generally do some scanning of the stock market for trade ideas, which is my secondary source of income.

 

This isnโ€™t really part of the workday per se, but since quarantine started the work and non work parts of the day seem to be blending together more and more.

I have been starting the day with 20-30 minutes of yoga, so when I do log into the VPN Iโ€™ve at least accomplished something to take care of my well being.

My workday starts with a cup of tea and investigating what things went bump overnight and during London AM. That easily eats up the first hour and sometimes can last into the afternoon based on what the issues are.

 

A Espresso and look at what's the next picture I wanna post on my instagram: instagram.com/crimson_med/

Then a long black and check emails, github, github explore trending page, dev.to, thehackernews.com/, stats on my websites.

 

Depends
If I was in the middle of a ticket, odds are good I still remember what I was working on, so I might make a change and then try build or the tests again.

Occasionally, seeing the file open with fresh, rested eyes makes the problem trivial, which happened to me yesterday (get your sleep, kids!)

Other, nicer times, I finished a ticket the night before so I'll spend the morning catching up on admin, then check out the next ticket.

 

1) "Sign in" via our Slack's "location reporting" channel
2) Check email that might have come in after signing off from the prior day
3) Look at any pending Slack notifications
4) Login to customer's networks

Note: Depending how exhaustive my replies to #2 and/or #3 might be, #3 and/or #4 may not fit within that opening 30 minutes.

 

Coffee, emails, news, start recapping yesterday and thinking about today/blockers for DailyBot (there's no need for an actual standup meeting in 2020 when DailyBot/WorkingOn/etc. allows everyone to submit the same results, asynchronously and to an actionable dashboard everyone can see throughout the day, without wasting 10+ minutes of everyone's time).

 

I open stackoverflow.

 

Catchup on Emails
Coffee
Get small quick-wins out of the way
Then onto the main task of the day :)

 

Make coffee, check email whilst doing some Prod health checks, look at error logs. But sometimes can be varied, if there is an emergency fix...

 
 

Have coffee and check news, turn on the equipment, start working.

 

Make sure that I have a cup of coffee, start my bullet journal for the day, and then check comms (email, teams, slack).

 
  1. Brain dump - 5-10 minutes
  2. Meditate - 12 minutes
  3. Tabata + shower - 10 minutes

Only after that point, do I check email and prioritize the day's tasks.

 

Explore something new and write a blog ๐Ÿฅ‚
This is the most satisfying thing ever had ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜…

 

Panic!

LOL just kidding.

The first thing I do is check and see if any of my team needs my response or help with anything, if yes then I jump on that.

If not then it's on to emails and Jira.

 

I brew a cup of coffee, do light yoga, and (attempt to) solve a picross puzzle. Was fortunate enough to find a book so I can stay screen-free for the start of the day.

 

Get a ride to other province at 35 km ๐Ÿ˜…

 

Not much, to be honest.

 

Get a tall glass of water, get all my applications running, go through email, check Slack, get back to whatever the most important project on my plate is at the time.

 

Coffee! Thatโ€™s work-related, right?! I check in on email or Slack and then plan out my day by figuring out what my main focuses for the day will be.