Do It First: The First Five Minutes of Your Workday

4 years ago

At my middle school son’s open house last week where we met the teachers and heard about their teaching philosophies, I noticed a trend that just might be applicable to us adults. When the students walk into the classroom every day, they immediately begin the “do it first” exercises: write down the homework for that night (so there’s no excuses!) and then start a writing exercise for the next four to five minutes. As one teacher said, “I ask them to just start writing what’s on their minds, free flow”.  It’s an idea worth trying: come into the office, make a list of what you’re going to get done by tomorrow (note: not today’s to-do list, but thinking a day ahead and giving yourself a little bit of a break on the current day) and then write — write something. Such as:

* Write a note to a journalist commending him on a recent article
* Send an email to a colleague complementing her on her ideas at a recent meeting
* Write a new description of your brand and its promise to consumers (keep it handy)
* Rewrite your profile on LinkedIn and Twitter
* Write a headline and first paragraph of an article about your company that you’d like to see appear (optimize it for search)

The point is: write something, even if it doesn’t see the light of day. Get the juices flowing. Hone your story-telling skills. Read your work out loud. Don’t use emoticons or text message short-cuts (you’ll be doing that later, presumably).

It’s a good exercise that will make us better writers and more disciplined communicators. It’ll only take five minutes and, unlike in middle school, you can drink coffee while you’re writing.

Diane Schwartz

Twitter: @dianeschwartz

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