Valuable employees are hard to find. At a bare minimum it’s challenging to find enough employees who can show up on time and get along with other people. A 2015 survey of business leaders from the New York Fed showed that 42 percent of employers have trouble finding punctual workers while about 48 percent struggle finding workers with interpersonal skills.
It could be that the employers are carrying too high of standards, but often employees aren’t focused on doing the right things correctly. Regardless of surveys, truly the only behavior that matters is yours. It doesn’t matter if you are a leader or line worker, you owe it to yourself and others to bring value everyday. Here are some morning habits to ensure you are always at your best.
1. Be punctual.
Being late causes all kinds of trouble for everyone. Five minutes may not seem like much to you, but to those who are busy and dependent on you those 300 seconds will bring irritation and resentment. By the third time you are late to a meeting or behind on deliverables, you will be considered unreliable. Be realistic about how much time it will take you to get to the office each morning. Save yourself a rush by setting out whatever you need to get ready the night before. Start your week off calm, relaxed, and feeling successful, not guilty and frantic.
2. Take care of your body.
Someone who is sick all the time eventually seems like a bundle of excuses and a detriment. You need to be at your physical and mental best to perform at your peak. Start your day right by fueling your body with healthy food. Exercise is also essential; even a 15-minute walk in the morning before you leave for work can jumpstart your oxygen giving you more energy.
3. Envision a successful future.
As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” To be the most productive for you and the company you should have a clear understanding of the big picture. Meditate, read, check your vision board; do whatever it takes to get yourself into a positive and focused mindset. You’ll be able to create efficiencies by eliminating tasks that don’t fit into the overall plan and identify solutions that work on a systemic level.
4. Make a game plan for the day.
A day can quickly disappear if there is no order, structure or priority. You can be easily sidelined into the weeds making you and your colleagues feel like nothing was done. Set out specific tasks and measurements for what you want to accomplish. Set realistic projected timeframes so things don’t wander. You’ll find that you can get more done when keeping time.
5. Greet everyone.
Few careers will go well if you work like a hermit. Those who can form strong teams will easily get to the top of the ladder. You may not be a people person, but you can start with something simple. Warmly saying hello to your co-workers and calling them by name demonstrates your care and humanity. People will work harder for people they like. Show them they are worth your attention and they will make you worth theirs.
6. Avoid the daily gossip.
So often the first daily activity is slinging the sludge. Office gossip is distracting and often harmful. The only thing worse than being the target of gossip is being thought of as an inconsiderate bully for spreading it. Foster a positive office environment by squashing rumormongering first thing. Set the example for how to build co-worker alliances rather than tearing them down.
7. Do your most important tasks first.
It can be tempting to push off the hard stuff and get a bunch of little meaningless tasks done so you feel productive. Still, tackling the big stuff first will free your mind for bigger and better things. As Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.” You have more energy in the morning. Take advantage of it and then you can coast through the small stuff in the afternoon while looking super productive.
8. Make meetings efficient.
No doubt you have plenty of meetings scheduled. You don’t have to be the leader of them to bring improvement. Assess the subject matter for each of your meetings that day. Make sure you have thought through your objectives and prepare solutions for pending problems before you step in. Send a summary memo with your expectations to meeting leaders beforehand and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how short and efficient meetings become.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.