When I worked for an ERP consultancy, I would frequently no sooner get my backside at my desk in the morning before the phone would start to ring. Customers looking for support, developers asking for tests to be done and the managing director looking for that new feature for the high profile client of the week. Some days I would simply keep working right from the moment I got to my desk through to home time without a thought about working on the right things. Then I would realize that the day has completely passed by and I’m not even sure if I had done what I originally set out to do that day.

It was at this point that I started giving myself 5 minutes each day of breathing space. At the start of each day I would block out some time to get my day into order. Just a chance to ask myself a couple of questions:

  • Did I leave anything undone from the previous day?
  • Are there any high priority issues that I need to resolve today?

Once I got into the habit of doing this I started to see where my day was going and the progress (or lack of) that I was making. Updates for customers were taking too long, support calls were being left for too long and most days I wasn’t doing the work that I wanted to do.

Once I spotted these recurring issues, I started to clear them off my backlog of work one at a time. Each day I was making this list smaller and smaller. I was starting to see some real progress.

I do this little routine every day now. It’s just a few minutes of my time, but the benefits are worth it. I’ll sit down with my notebook and review the previous day’s work and pull forward any outstanding tasks to today. I’ll then check my master list on TaskPaper and include any work that is scheduled for today or the current week.

Now that I am freelancing and working from home, it’s important that I continually measure my progress and ensure that I am always making progress on projects and products but more importantly on client work. I need to deliver good results for my clients and ensure they are getting value for money.

Having this little moment of breathing space is a great way to start the day. It’s just a few minutes of time reflecting on what you need to get done today, but it is time well spent.