Approach the Key Challenges Early in the Day

Studies indicate that human beings are better able to handle challenges early in the day...

May 9, 2017 | BLOG POST


Studies indicate that human beings are better able to handle challenges early in the day, rather than later. Peak energy and alertness for most people is at 8 a.m. Also, fewer interruptions are likely earlier in the day. This is not to say you can't be effective handling large tasks later in the day, and as every leader knows, often, you have no choice but to do so. The long-term odds of success, however, are in your favor when you make a note of handling the day's biggest challenge as early as you can - perhaps as the very first thing.

When composing a to-do list – regardless of what order you list the items – identify the vital challenge you face for the day, circle it, or draw an arrow from it up to the top of the page, indicating that this is the task you will tackle first. Then, clear away any minor hurdles that would impede your ability to start on this project.

Arrange and Conquer

Do you need to rearrange your workspace accordingly? Go ahead and do so; not to stall, but because you will literally be making logistical changes to your workspace that aid in your performance.

Do you need to alert others that you do not wish to be distracted? Do so. Clear stretches give you your best chance of being productive, especially when you are tackling a project that is new, requires highly creative thinking, or is unfamiliar to you.

Each distraction, however fleeting, could turn into a full-fledged interruption. Interruptions in and of themselves, are not so bad, and on average last only minutes. The problem, however, is that a typical interruption leads to other activities that can last up to 25 minutes. Therefore, any interruption can pull you from the task for much longer than you might presume.

You're more likely to be distracted as the day goes on versus early in the morning. So, you have a compelling reason to tackle the biggest tasks before you as early as you can get to them. Thereafter, no matter how difficult the challenge was, as you've experienced so many times before, once you finish something that at first may have seemed intimidating, the whole day tends to go better.

Great Things

Major victories early in the day have a way of affecting the rest of the day. Freed from the psychological baggage of handling the task, as well as the mental and physical effort necessary to do so, you almost automatically consider, "What other great things can I accomplish today?"

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" whose passion is helping organizations achieve rapid progress for their employees or members. The premier thought leader on work-life balance issues, Jeff is the author of 65 books, among them "Breathing Space," "Dial it Down, Live it Up," "Simpler Living," the "60 Second Innovator," and the "60 Second Organizer." Visit or call 919-932-1996 for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars.

  • Managing the Pace with Grace®
  • Achieving Work-Life Balance™
  • Managing Information and Communication Overload®


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