5 Ways to Start Your Work Day With More Purpose

Have you ever stopped to think about the difference between being busy and being productive? I used to get to the office at 8 am and spend the first hour feeling very busy browsing and sorting through things that, at the end of the day, didn’t make a dent in my to-do list. Once I stopped revering the word “busy” and adopted “productivity” as my mantra instead, I began to realize just how much more I could get done between 8 am and 5 pm.

So while it might seem harmless to ease into your work day, you could be missing out on the opportunity to set a purposeful tone for the rest of your day. The first step to starting your day with purpose? Create a solid morning routine.

Here are our top tips for crushing deadlines and keeping your sanity, whether you work from home, the corner office, a cubicle, or a coffee shop.

1. Establish a morning ritual (preferably one that does not involve a screen)

Think of your mornings as a chance to set the tone for the rest of your day. If you always find yourself rushing out the door, balancing a caffeinated beverage in one hand and scrolling through your growing list of “unread” emails with the other, slow down. Rise and shine a little earlier so you have some wiggle room for breakfast at an actual table, or get some exercise in to help ground you before the daily hustle ensues.

Tip: If you really want to commit, make it a personal policy not to check your email until you get to the “office.”


2. Prioritize your to-do list

Start your workday off by deciding on one BIG item you want to get done that day. Ideally, it should be something that will speed up several other items on your to-do list. Avoid procrastinating and commit to tackling this big item before lunch, so your mind is still fresh.

3. Kick off your day with a “power hour”

Give yourself an hour to power through as many of your “small” to-do’s as possible. A small to-do can be characterized as anything that can be completed in less than 5 minutes: (certain) emails, scheduling calls or meetings, sending out meeting agendas, booking travel, quick phone calls, the list goes on! Making this a daily practice will help you avoid interruptions to your workflow later in the day when you’re grinding on the bigger stuff.

4. Take time for creativity

This one is a personal favorite. At least three times a week, block off one hour on your calendar for creative time. Turn your notifications off, put your phone away, go for a walk, or simply sit in silence. The purpose of this time is to take a step back from the day-to-day minutia to think big picture about you and your work. If you simply don’t have an hour to spare, make it happen over lunch. The most important thing is to block it off on your calendar and protect that time as if it were a 1:1 with your boss or most important client. We recommend doing this in the afternoon, as it has the added benefit of boosting your mood and staving off that 4 pm slump.

5. Get in the habit of journaling

One underrated habit to help you stay purposeful in your workday is journaling! It takes work to create this habit, but the payoff can be well worth the effort. Journaling accelerates your ability to manifest your goals and can also give incredible insight into energy levels. Sarah Kauss, CEO of S’well shared her positive journaling experience with Harvard Business Review stating, “Journaling about work has given me the focus to identify my strengths and the activities that bring me the greatest joy. Surprisingly, the least glamorous tasks of my professional career to date have been some of my career highlights. I have gleaned many lessons about where I can be most engaged and therefore most successful in the workplace.”

In addition to journaling for insight, I especially love using journaling to track successes. Writing down your personal “wins” every day can really help to wrap up your day on a positive note, leaving you more motivated to tackle more the following day. It’s a reframing tool that works wonders, especially on tough work days.

While you may not feel super motivated in the morning, incorporating small changes into your routine can have a massive impact on the rest of your day. I often think of this quote from Charles Duhigg, “Habits are powerful but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed.” It illustrates that it’s all in our control. So, why not design a life you love by creating better habits? While it might sound overly simplistic, our lives are essentially made up of a series of small choices. Choosing a purposeful routine at work can transform your attitude and productivity.

Have you considered how you can add your purpose to your workday?