What is the most important time of the day? For me, it's always the first 10 mins of today and the last 10 mins of the previous working day. Most often than not, these 10 mins have always decided on the future course of actions for the entire day. They have determined if the entire day is going to have a smooth flow, or if there are going to be rough patches.
As soon as you enter work, your investment on the first 10 mins would reap the results for the rest of the day. Please put all stops in place and finalize your day's plan during the 1st 10 mins. Please tell your boss that you can't be disturbed during this time. Please inform your sub-ordinates that you cannot be disturbed during this time. Having put all these stops in place, what do you do in the 1st 10 mins?
Well, I don't know what you do (how can I :), but here's what I do during these 10 mins.
1) A lot changes during the previous day....
Most probably, most of our project team members live across the world in a different timezone. Please check your emails and make a quick check of items that you need to accomplish during the day.
2) Plan for the top 3 things that you want to do for the day.
On Paper, draw a simple list of top 3 things that you need to complete for the day. It can be completing a review, completing some documentation, doing some testing, doing some test data preparation, or whatever... But, please have a good clarity on the top 3 tasks that you plan to achieve for that particular day at work.
3) Planning for interruptions...
All of us get interrupts.... how do we handle interrupts? We don't have to look far... we only need to take a good look into the mind of a very effective operating system to understand how the system handles interrupts and if you study it, you would know that the system handles interrupts in the best possible manner. You need to mimic the same... it's too simple, really!!! The moment you get an interrupt, all you need to do is to see if you have to place that task among the top 3 activities for the day. If not, it can wait!!!
4) Plan for what to discuss during the meetings on this day...
Make a quick list of meetings that you need to participate... And plan for the top 2 things that you want to talk about in those meetings. Nobody likes someone who keeps talking and talking... By talking less, you would be able to create the focus on the most wanted items. Make a list of the things that you want to talk in meetings for the day.
5) If you feel the need to decline or postpone meetings, do it at this time.
You cannot be in all the places at all the time. If you feel that you need not attend meetings, please decline them 1st thing in the day. There is no harm in declining meetings. You have to do prioritizations effectively.
6) Finalize the effective working time during the day. The time when you will not be disturbed by anyone...
This is something that I do religiously... For at least 4 hours during the day, please ensure that there is no disturbance. Do not take coffee breaks.. do not answer phones... do not take gossip breaks... email breaks... browsing breaks.... break from breaks, etc.etc.etc... For 2 hours in the AM and 2 hours in the PM, please focus only on deliverables. I call this EFFECTIVE WORK HOURS. Makes a world of difference to your deliverables...
7) Playing hooky from work is always important.... -
Finalize the time of the day when you play hooky and read fun-emails and internet browsing, Office Gossips, Purchasing stocks on the stock market, etc. None of us refrain from this and in a way, this is always important.
And very important... though it is very important for you to be at the beck and call of your boss, please don't do that in the first 10 mins of your day...
Please keep your boss, your boss's boss and your boss's boss's boss far far away during this time :) !!!
The fake tester always reaches for a cup of coffee and checks all fun forwarded emails before starting off. His entire day gets screwed up, and he cannot prioritize. He spends most of his working time in something which is not important at all. For example, If you have 90% notion that a feature will not be delivered, why would you need to spend time on testing it? Please remember... investing in the 1st 10 mins of the day would be very effective for the entire day, and you would reap results for the rest of your long career!!!
What the fake tester does not realize is that...... Dedicated planning during the first 10 mins of the day, would ensure that you own the entire day!!!!!