Great leaders know that if done right, the first hour can set the tone for a productive day and be an opportunity to strategise before office chaos begins.
Don’t have a first-hour game plan?
To commemorate International Women’s Day, we’ve delved into the routines of five successful women, from actresses to CEOs, to find out their secrets to success.
1. Jessica Alba
The busy working mum says her typical day is usually filled with meetings. “I wake up early, get the kids out of the door, sometimes I drop them off and sometimes I go straight to the office, and I am usually in meetings all day,” she tells Forbes. As the co-founder and face of The Honest Company, supplier of eco-friendly household products, Jessica knows the value of focusing on one top-level task. “I have my hands in all the creative decisions, from marketing assets to product development to packaging. It’s a lot of work. I am being pulled in a lot of different directions,” she says.
Lesson: Sift through your task list and set your number one priority. Ask yourself, if you were to only complete one task today, what would it be?
2. Lauren Conrad
The website founder, designer, and reality TV star says she always makes time to talk to colleagues and make a connection at the start of the day. “Successful women don’t have to be stuck to their desk 24/7. Talking with other people during work hours can help you to get your motivation back or get inspiration for your work,” she told Career Girl Daily. A recent Gallup study found that having close friends at work boosts satisfaction by 50% and that people with a best friend at work were up to seven times more engaged.
Lesson: Make time for colleagues. Rather than heading straight for your cubicle, take a moment at the start of the day to check in with people in your office.
3. Marissa Meyer
The Yahoo CEO says her first hour of work is crucial for setting an agenda to help her stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Marissa says she creates a task list each day with “five high-priority things to focus on,” as well as “a list for each person I work with or interact with, of what they’re working on or what I expect from them.” Her task list is always numbered, so from the very start of her day she can see what to prioritise. She also doesn’t stress about ticking off all the jobs.
Lesson: Create a three-level priority list. Jot down three headings: First, second, and people. Under the first headline, write your most important tasks. Use the next headline as a second-tier to-do list, which includes smaller tasks that deserve your attention next. Last, use the third headline like Marissa, and take note of what your team needs to achieve today.
4. Blake Lively
Mornings are a chaotic time for new mum and digital startup founder. “Business is also about generosity; entrepreneurs helping each other out,” she tells Stylist. “People starting their own companies who could be competitors are actually saying to me, This is a mistake I made and this is how you can do it better. You realise there is room for everyone, as long as you work hard enough.” She stresses the importance of making every moment count, and calls on mentors like Martha Stewart to help her make smart decisions.
Lesson: Check in with a manager or mentor for advice. Look over your top-line tasks and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.
5. Eva Chen
The head of fashion partnerships at Instagram does one thing as soon as she arrives at the office that helps power through a busy day, and it’s not what you think. After rising at 6:30 a.m., she’s “in the office between 9 and 9:30 am. Most of the day I’m sitting on a chair responding to emails,” she says. When Eva arrives, the first thing she does is stock her desk drawer with healthy snacks, especially if she has a busy day. “I think that eating healthy is the foundation to good health, good skin and everything,” she tells Forbes.
Lesson: Don’t overlook the basics. Fuel your body and mind so you have the energy to face the day ahead.