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How to Start Your Day Right – Proactive Planning

How to Start Your Day Right – Proactive Planning
Personal DevelopmentArticlePerformance

​What words spring to mind when I say, “COVID-19”? For myself, whilst there are many positive words floating around – adaptability; innovation – the immediate terms also include upheaval and disarray. The transition from office to home working isn’t necessarily one we were ready for as a business, not in totality, but I’d still say we’ve triumphed regardless. And one way we’ve managed to do so, is by starting our day right – wherever we’re working.

How do you begin each working day right now?

For many it probably involves making a coffee, opening the laptop and checking your emails. All fine things to be done – in due time – but, by beginning your day by responding to the requests/enquiries of others, you’re already relinquishing power; the power to take your day where you want to go with it. Personally, I love nothing more than doing something for myself first thing in the morning. Normally this involves a pre-work walk, either on my own or with the dog, headphones in, podcast or audio book on greeting the day.

Working in recruitment means working to many different deadlines and schedules, all intermingling with one another; it takes a HUGE amount of planning to chat with your client James on his lunchbreak, before catching up with your client Sarah before her 3 o’ clock meeting, with three 30-minute interview prep calls scheduled for the between time. To say we understand the importance of planning would be an understatement. But, all of that aside, whatever your profession may be, just taking 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to plan what you’re going to achieve can make a huge difference to the way you go about doing so.

So, what could you be doing differently to start your day right?

Implement proactive planning.

Enter your workspace; don’t turn on your laptop/computer screen yet. Get into position – coffee in hand, if you’re anything like me (long black in case anyone wants to send me one…) – and commit the next ten minutes to not responding to your phone, emails, or anything for that matter. We’re not being reactive during these ten minutes; it’s time to make a proactive plan.

Ask yourself this question: when I close my laptop/leave the office/turn off my computer this afternoon, what will have given me a sense of accomplishment? I used to have the world’s longest, never ending to-do list. I now stick to 5 core things I need to achieve each day. I find this approach much more realistic, and it allows room for all the ad-hoc things that come up in a day. Hey, if you finish them all by lunch time, I’m sure you’ll be able to think of more things to do!

Proactive planning isn’t just about having a tick list of things to do today; it’s about making them actionable items. For example, instead of having on your list, “ABC proposal to finish”, word it as below:


  • Research 3 competitors and add notes to proposal

  • Run numbers and add proposed fees to agreement

  • Proofread entire proposal and contract

  • Send completed proposal to Ken @ ABC

You may notice that each of these points now begins with a verb, and has become extremely digestible; research shows that the more specific your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. By making each item actionable with a ‘doing word’, it becomes that much more likely to get done.

Why does beginning your day this way get you off to a good start?

To state the obvious: it simply puts into perspective how many tasks you have to complete today, how to reach that feeling of achievement. It helps separate the important tasks from the urgent, those which fall under neither of those categories, and allows you to plan/prioritise your day as such.

Further than this, it’s about starting your day in a proactive way. Stimulating novel thought. Essentially, not responding; forcing your brain to do some work, first thing. It’s a sure-fire way to understand which variables you have control over, which tasks you can complete without outside influence or input; and, importantly, proactive planning helps you foresee any obstacles and set tasks to overcome them.

As business leaders, we can all appreciate the importance of starting your day off well; it’s far easier to ride the wave of positivity from the beginning than it is to revive and turn around a day which started badly. In working from home, we’ve all had to adapt – but, by beginning each day with some proactive planning, you can at least guarantee 10 minutes of positive input, if nothing else goes right all day.

We’d love to hear from you if you implement any of the above, to see how it helped – or didn’t! Get in touch in the comments. How do you begin your day? What’s your process/ritual/routine? We certainly all have one, no matter what level of your career you’re currently at.

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