We hear a lot about star players such as Elon Musk or Tim Cook having a morning ritual, whether that be a workout, followed by meditation, followed by a super-green spirulina infused organic broccoli smoothie–all before 5 am! Whatever their routine is, the core of why they do it is a belief, and proof, that it sets them up for daily success. However, what about a morning ritual for work, is that even a thing? Well, I certainly haven’t heard of many people talking about it. Though, for me, it makes sense to have one. Specifically, “what is the set of things I could do each morning before I launch into my tasks that would set me up for success?” This thought is what this post is focused on.

Now, I’d love to say I came across this idea from a top-down approach, feeling very ivory tower, pondering how I can best architect my day. The reality of it is, too many times I have been in situations where I’ve been running off to a team meeting only to realise I hadn’t booked a room, or about to walk out the door for lunch only to get an outlook notification alerting me of a client call in 15 minutes. These issues could have been easily mitigated had I checked the room booking sheet and my calendar respectively–two simple tasks, which if executed, would have saved me unnecessary anxiety. To circumvent these issues going forward, I realised I needed to put in a system, one that was quick and easy enough that I would have the time to complete it each morning–yet rigorous enough that it would have a measurable impact on my personal and the team’s productivity.

The list below is a set of tasks that I complete each morning before I read my emails or jump into any project-specific tasks. For context, I work as a Senior Project Manager in a digital agency, so some of the tasks listed below may not be relevant to those not running projects or teams. However, I hope that this strategy may help you think about what are the 3-10 things that you could complete each morning to set your day up for success.

My list of morning ritual tasks:

  • Review of calendars
    First up, I review my project calendars which are a combination of Outlook and Confluence calendars. I not only check the given day’s entries, but I also review the next 5 works days and sometimes further. I modify any entries as required.
  • Check meeting acceptances
    If invitees haven’t accepted a meeting I follow them up before 9 am to confirm their attendance.
  • Check room bookings
    I look 5 days ahead making sure the bookings are planned as per my calendar entries. If not, I modify as required.
  • Create meeting notes
    For each of my meetings for the day I set up a template to capture my notes. Specifically, who will be attending, what is the agenda and what questions do I have that require answering.
  • Review “Waiting on” list
    Review and update my “Waiting on” list. This is a designated context in OmniFocus that I track all people that I am waiting on for something.
  • Review “Follow up” list
    Similar to the point above, I have a “Follow up” context in OmniFocus. This is a list of all the people I need to follow up on. As part of my “Waiting on” review, if someone has been on that list for longer than I would like, I’d move them to my “Follow up” list. And likewise, once I have followed them up, I move that action into the “Waiting on” list so I can track the task/action through to completion.
  • Send list of action items to team
    For each project team, I have a dedicated Confluence page listing out the tasks that need to be completed and by who. Each morning I send out those links via the project’s respective Slack channel.
  • Review resourcing portfolio
    As a project manager, one of my key remits to keep my project’s resources in check. Reviewing my resourcing portfolio daily allows me to keep an eye on whether my resource bookings have changed without my knowledge. For example, another project manager may have tried to cheekily steal a designer, or a team member has put in for a holiday that hasn’t been discussed.

As you can see nothing too spectacular in terms of the tasks. However, by completing these tasks each morning, I have confidence that the small stuff won’t slip through–which unmanaged can turn out to be a huge pain in the ass.

Do you have a morning work ritual? If so, what tasks do you have on your list and what system do you have to track those tasks? Please leave your comments in the section below.

As always, I hope you found this post useful. If you have any friends or colleagues that would also enjoy this article, please share it with them! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.





Posted by Liam Holmes