Gone in 30 minutes: How to turbo-boost your day

Flickr user Ivan Walsh

(MoneyWatch) What do you do when you first arrive at work? Whether you dive straight into a project or sit around drinking coffee and chatting with co-workers, you're squandering a golden opportunity to seize control of your day and position yourself for success.

That's because there's something special about the first half hour or so every day. No one is especially productive, and even those who are getting things done are too wrapped up in their own projects to bother you. That even goes for your boss. As a result, you've got a little time every day to work unmolested.

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Media blog News to Live By makes a few recommendations on how to take advantage of your time. Instead of starting to work on a specific project -- which has a short-term, tactical advantage, or chewing the fat with colleagues, which has a social benefit but doesn't really get your day off with a bang -- try this:

Read the news. Take a few minutes to read about what's happening in the world. News to Live By advises spending 20 minutes on this task (I suggest 15). And make sure you read the right news -- check out news about your company and your industry, first and foremost. Scan the Web, to be sure, but it's also a good idea to see if your own CEO, general manager, or executive vice president has written a new blog post.

Review email. Don't look at new email -- there's time for that next. Rather, spend this time looking back over the last day's worth of email to remind yourself what conversations you had and action items you need to follow up on. Remember, those earlier messages amount to the best forensic tool for understanding what lies ahead today. If you only spend 15 minutes on catching up on news, you can spend 10 more minutes on email. Which leave you 5 more minutes to...

Make a to-do list. As I've said many times before, I am a huge believer in the daily to-do list. Start every day by writing a list of all the things you need to do, in priority order. And since you do this every day, you can start by re-writing yesterday's list, and then add in any new action items that have arrived since your last update.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ivan Walsh