Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

How 20 Minutes Each Morning Can Transform Your Day as a Manager

~ By Sebastian Bos

Stopwatch showing 20 minutes

Before you can be an inspirational leader and effective manager of your dynamic and energised team, you need to get your own game in shape first. Improving your personal time management skills is a lot easier said than done however, and the difference between being busy and being constantly stressed can sometimes feel paper thin.

Like most of us you probably start each morning by speed-showering, stuffing toast into your mouth and running out the door at 1,000mph. If every morning is starting to feel like a Monday, it may be time to consider doing things a bit differently.

See how setting your alarm just 20 minutes earlier could transform your day.

Don't Start Your Day by Worrying About Yesterday

A good start begins the night before and going to bed in the right frame of mind. It is crucial to getting a great night's sleep. When people get stressed at work, proper sleep is often the first thing that suffers, either because you can't switch your buzzing mind off or because you take your work home at nights. Make sure you get the recommended hours but also make sure you go to bed without a brain that's heavily laden with worries. Don't take your work home, stop preparing for that client meeting and actually take charge of your overflowing emails once and for all.

Try: Make sure you clear your diary at the end of each day.

Time to Make Some Plans

This 20 minutes is for you. It's like winning a time lottery so don't waste it by starting your day checking through yesterday's emails and scanning news websites. Once you've cancelled your alarm on your mobile leave it alone. Instead use your newly found time to establish daily goals. Map out a simple task list that feeds into completing your short and long-term goals. Maybe you want to work toward a promotion: if so, now is the time to plan how you can take one step closer to achieving it.

Try: Consider a diary or planner to document your progress toward a specific goal.

Don't Skip Breakfast

Okay, so you've heard it a thousand times but you still end up skipping breakfast anyway because you don't have the time. Find the time! Even if you need to go to bed a bit earlier to make it happen, it's worth making sure you fuel yourself properly. Breakfast improves your metabolism, regulates weight better, improves your mood and fuels your ability to manage your team effectively. Speaker and writer James Clear says: Manage your energy, not your time and encourages you to understand your best creative or analytical times of the day.

Try: If you absolutely cannot fit in a sit-down breakfast, consider instead a low-fat, high protein breakfast smoothie.

Adopt a Mini Workout

It's true that even a 10-minute exercise routine can have an amazing impact on your day. Use some of your new time to get your body up and running with a quick workout or a simple stretching routine. A quick workout can help you feel more focused, more creative, less tired through the week and much less stressed.

Try: Ever heard of Tabata training? It's a 20-minute high-intensity workout that is designed for time-poor people.

Give Your Brain a Break

It's probably not something you have ever even considered but meditation isn't only for tree-hugging hippies and ass-kicking Kung Fu masters. Forget what you think you know about meditation, it's just project management but for your life. It's an exercise in stepping back from your day and viewing it objectively. You evaluate what's working for you and what's not. As Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace, says: The very act of meditation or mindfulness is honesty itself, seeing the mind exactly as it is, without judgement or criticism, not chasing one thing or resisting another.

Try: 10 minutes of quiet reflection, no phone, no TV, no radio, no newspaper. Just you and your brain.

For more inspiration on managing your time better check out the blog of Time Management Ninja. Lifehack also has some great advice on increasing productivity one small step at a time to help you achieve a lasting and positive impact

I'd love to hear your time management tips. How do you deal with stress and the pressures of work? Please share in the comments!

Sebastian is a digital marketing executive at RocketMill and spends a lot of his time building relationships with industry experts. He spends a lot of time playing team sports or catching up on his favourite TV series. For more information on management efficiency why not check out the Cryoserver blog

Comments (14)

Topic: How 20 Minutes Each Morning Can Transform Your Day as a Manager
5/5 (14)
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
20th October 2015 8:21pm
Anca says...
I totally agree with your list. Actually, this is part of my daily routine:

  • 20 minutes workout
  • Breakfast
  • 10 minutes meditation
  • Read my monthly goals
  • and if I have time, I take a 10 minute walk and be thankful for the good things in my life
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
20th October 2015 3:42pm
Peter Altschuler (Santa Monica) says...
Old sayings sometimes lie. What's sauce for the goose is not always right for the gander and, as several people make clear, they have their routines that vary more than a little from the author's.

After my eldest child began rising before God himself was awake, I became accustomed to extremely early hours. Now, on four hours sleep, I go to the gym in utter darkness, catch up on reading while I'm doing something mindless (cross-trainer, treadmill, whatever), think through every situation that's lingering or likely to arise, then go home and lie down for an hour before re-starting my day.

There's always breakfast (to power up my batteries), a glance through the newspaper (very old school but always a source for something new and surprising), and a scan through new email just in case there's something vital or time-sensitive. By the time I'm at my desk, I am ready for just about anything.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
8th October 2015 7:47pm
Christine Audouin (JOUARS PONTCHARTRAIN) says...
We are all different. The essential in time management is to understand how we function, what works best for us personally and what deters our efficiency. Once these are listed, tackle the deterrence first. For example - you always feel you're rushing. Maybe the order in which you do things in the morning isn't optimal. Think through this order to reorganise your method to generate time. Switching off after work is one of the most difficult tasks. Forecasting the needs of tomorrow, brainstorming the main points of this tomorrow and listing them before you leave work helps to relieve stress. Yet, it doesn't eliminate stress. This can only be done by indulging in an activity that is literally in opposition - playing an instrument for 20-30 minutes, reading a recreational subject, a sporting activity or creative activity helps.
Full StarFull StarFull StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
30th September 2015 9:44pm
Miriam Frigerio (Milan) says...
Kiss and hug your children (no matter their age) every night before going to sleep and every morning when you wake up. They'll give you the right perspective...and a smile :-)
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
15th January 2017 5:11pm
Esther (Nairobi) says...
Absolutely right. Make it a habit to kiss your children before going to sleep and when you wake up in the morning. It doesn't matter how old they are. Sometimes we are too busy for our children. It's time to change.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
23rd September 2015 8:32pm
Duncan Haughey (London) says...
Try these productivity tips for size:

  • Turn off all devices by 10:30 pm
  • Take regular exercise
  • Make a point to have family mealtimes
  • Get eight hours sleep every night
  • Eat lunch away from your desk
  • Reduce one-hour meetings to 45 minutes
I’ve made a point of doing these and it has really improved my health and wellbeing.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
8th October 2015 7:28pm
Christine Audouin (JOUARS PONTCHARTRAIN) says...
Sound advice - the eight hours sleep depends on your metabolism. Some need more some need less. The goal is to give your body what it requires. Switching off from work is probably the biggest struggle for many. A good book, a good film, playing an instrument, giving the bath to a kid or playing with kids is a means to exit the world of work. Yet, if you haven't set the plan for tomorrow before leaving the office, nor prepared psychologically your tomorrow's hit moments - that stress shall reside during the night. In essence - the best advice is to leave the office with bullet points made for tomorrow's action and either before or after reaching home do an activity that allows you to decompress totally. We are all different, but all have an "out" method.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
6th September 2015 10:17am
Teodora Diaconu (Brescia) says...
My day starts at 5:30 every day :-) with 20 min. of light running. I'm using all this time to look at the stars or the rising sun, thinking how lucky I am being healthy and having all these things. Under the shower I listen Mozart and think how to concentrate a small part of the energy of the Universe in myself and create a great smile. I have always 5 min. breakfast with a cup of tea and a slice a bread with marmalade, reading my agenda. I'm not using a telephone for it because I realized I was forgetting how to write using a hand and it seems not right. So I have an old fashioned one where I write everything - even things which are crossing my mind when I'm working - usually they are good ideas! And I do all this, preparing also breakfast for my family! Driving to my office I listen dance music and I dance :-D - it's wonderful arriving in office smiling and happy, hearing everybody saying WOW. My tip: never keep negative energy more than one hour!! never.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
22nd September 2015 8:53pm
Liza says...
I love your morning routine! This is something that I'm definitely going to start doing as my mornings are always so rushed. One question though, do you get enough rest?
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
23rd September 2015 7:29am
Teodora (Brescia) says...
Hi, Liza,

:-) I'm going to bed every evening not later than 21:30. I read for half an hour and then sleep. I know what you will ask me: what about the social life?! I love being with persons, but I don't feel the obligation to be with persons only for drinks or speaking nonsense. I gladly partecipate at events where I know there will be something interesting to learn. But I don't go to bed at 01:00 only because I have to be seen somewhere. Sorting the nights outside in function of what I will have learned after is a good rule!
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
11th October 2015 7:58am
Luca Mastrostefano (Brescia) says...
Hi Teodora, we are from the same town, and I like your style of life. I follow a similar routine. I just wake up 45 minutes later and get to bed around 11 pm. When I follow your similar routine, my quality of life (and business) are increased. Every so often, I get out of my good habits and need a bit of a strong mental workout to get back in shape. Sport, music, relaxation and mental focus work are my basic keywords to reach my daily goals, and they make a big difference.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
4th September 2015 2:48pm
Jorge Alejandro Sánchez Rojas (Caracas) says...
These tips are good! Normally, it takes me 20 minutes early in the morning from my home to work by car, and for that I have a CD of music for meditation or slow jazz. When I go to work by bus, I hear music like that too: I carry it in my smartphone with headphones. Sometimes, just the sound of the awakening city is enough. I mentally check name-by-name my workmates to prepare any initial order, coordination or request that I think I need to do just at the moment of initiating my work. Regards from Venezuela to all!
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
2nd September 2015 5:58am
Andrew (Nairobi Kenya) says...
These are good tips. I think listening to inspirational music helps to calm me down, even in the middle of the day. One of my favourites is the quiet time when driving, no radio, just the hum of the car and my thoughts get organised. I also utilise the time spent in traffic jams to read inspirational materials e.g. bible verses.
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
10th August 2015 3:32pm
Duncan Aitkins (London) says...
Ignation spirituality recommends reviewing the good things that occurred in one's life before going to sleep. Recently, Harvard Business School also recommends that one should think of 5 positive actions of the day before sleeping.

Add a comment

(never displayed)

How many letters are in the word two?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Six Time Management Tips for Project Managers

Coloured business time wall clock

Time management is an essential skill for project managers. The best project managers ensure they are productive for most of their time and avoid time-wasters.

Four Steps to Project Time Management

Man pointing at an alarm clock

The four steps outlined in this article will help you better define and measure the activities that make up your project timeline.

Time Management in a Multi-Project Environment

A word cloud of time management related terms

It's a major concern that some people believe there is a perfect time management software out there that will fix all their scheduling woes.

Avoiding Project Failure: It's Not Rocket Science

Man dreaming of space, rockets and satelites

Don't become the casualty of a failed project. Always put measures in place that address these five common problem areas to help secure your project success.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.

Latest Comments

Allana commented on…
12 Tips for Being a Good Manager
- Tue 5 January 8:30pm

George Bockius commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 24 December 3:55pm

Al commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Tue 22 December 10:07pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • IT project management phrases - 10 terms you need to know about 1 day ago

General Project Management • An Optimist's View Going into 2021 about 5 days ago

An Optimist's View Going Into 2021 by Simon Sinek An inspiring read to help you start 2021… about 9 days ago