How To Utilise Your First And Last 10 Minutes At Work

Oct 18, 2017 1 Min Read

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at the office? Do you grab a cuppa or rush to work because you’re one of the usual latecomers? Experts believe how you handle the first 10 minutes at work pretty much sets up the rest of your day, so it’s best to start it on the right foot – clean slate, refreshed and focused.

Let’s not forget how you spend your last 10 minutes before leaving the office too. While there is an urge to wrap up earlier than your official clock-off time, stay disciplined and use your time wisely. Choose to be productive aside from waiting for the time to pass and prepare for the next working day.

To ensure a productive day, follow these simple approaches at the start and end of your day at work:


The first 10 minutes


1. Say ‘Hello’

Unless you’re the first one to arrive at the office, initiate small talks with your colleagues first thing in the morning. It is an effective way to build better work communication at work. Employees will be more motivated and engaged if this is practised regularly. A huge benefit will be for internal communication whereby colleagues can become each other’s support system at work and even foster friendship outside of work.

That said, you shouldn’t be too persistent with morning office chats either because not everyone will be eager to participate, so be alert and read their body language well. Factors like a lack of common interest or introversion of an individual may be reasons behind it. Be mindful, have respect and leave room for personal space.

Check this out: What Happens When We Give Time And Attention To Others At Work?


2. Arranging your emails

Organising your emails right before you start working on your main task is a great way to get yourself in tune to what’s to come in the day. Move your urgent emails, old emails, spams and junk mails into their respective folders. It’s good to keep your email space clear and organised so you can focus on one task at a time. You might want to keep some old emails for future reference, so take some time to separate them accordingly.

Other than receiving new emails from your peers, clients and other work-related matters, the biggest clutter in your inbox and spam list is probably the e-newsletters you’ve subscribed to; voluntarily or involuntarily. What you can do is to unsubscribe materials you no longer need, so you can save time deleting them constantly.


3. Expand your knowledge

This is similar to becoming a thought leader but you will be recognised for your expertise in your field of work. Use your spare time early in the day by reading up on industry news and business trends. That way, you will be able to share knowledge with your colleagues or participate in open discussions with like-minded individuals.

Your presence will add value to your organisation and colleagues, making you a trusted asset and a good example. Moreover, you can volunteer as a professional mentor to guide new employees in familiarising themselves with the organisation.


4. Review to-do list

We all have our own to-do list to help track our daily tasks at work, but sometimes we find ourselves getting overwhelmed with multiple tasks at hand and end up losing our tracks. What would be a better time than to plan and make adjustments on your task list at the start of the day before actually doing them?

The key to maintaining your to-do list is to prioritise. Plan your tasks from the most important and urgent to the least. This will make things easier to manage. Each task completed from then on will give you a sense of accomplishment and the motivation to continue your next task at hand.

This might interest you: Stop Wasting Your Time Being “Busy”!


The last 10 minutes


1. Self-reflection

When was the last time you asked yourself about the things you have accomplished no matter how trivial the task was? Most of us wouldn’t bother reflecting and prefer to look forward to the things to come.

There is no issue to keep moving forward, but what if there are vital lessons and improvement areas for your career or personal life that you missed from past encounters? Self-reflection helps.

Use the last 10 minutes of your work day to reflect on the things you did through the day. Jot them down on paper and go through them one by one. Chances are you will notice the positive and negative things clearer compared to before.

Recommended for you: My Top 10 Ways In Combating Procrastination


2. Set your goals

Picking your everyday battles in order to avoid a burnout should be part of your career goals. If you want to accomplish something greater or learn from your past experiences, we’d recommend making goal-setting a frequent activity of yours.

Make a list and place it prominently at your workstation as a daily or monthly reminder to motivate you. Examples of realistic goal-setting include to achieve 70% sales target monthly, write two articles a day or plan a marketing and PR campaign three months in advance. Studies have shown that goal-setting will increase your overall performance, well-being and improve your managerial skills.


3. Organise your work files

As a working adult, keeping your documents and digital folders neat and tidy is a plus point. It makes for an accessible and fuss-free workstation, and allows you to be more productive at work.

While it sounds easy, many people don’t take enough time to maintain theirs. With a few clicks at the end of each day, organise your digital folders and sort out saved documents into respective folders. It’s advisable to do this at the end of the day because you’re most likely to have more time and would have a chunk of work tasks completed from the day which needs filling.

If you need to save your files on your desktop, bear in mind that it can be very messy and hard to locate. What you can do is create one general folder and save named files there before segregating them eventually. Also, don’t forget to permanently delete irrelevant files to save storage space. This tip is also applicable to your cloud storage.


4. Organise your work desk

A cluttered desk is a recipe for disrupting your productivity and focus. The physical clutter from your desk will confuse and overwhelm you whereas your mental clutter will derive from the confusion and anxiety caused by the physical mess.

A study was done and it was indicated that an individual will have a severe constraint to focus and lack attentiveness if they had variables placed all over in the field of our view.

With 10 minutes in hand, tidy up your desk and give it a good sprucing up. Put your important paperwork on the side or use file trays to organise them. Place your stationery in your drawer or holder on your desk. Try the KonMari method of clearing your space if you find it difficult; most people claim it does wonders!


In summary

The key here is to keep the things that hold value for you. Look around your desk, pick one item and determine if the item is worth placing on your desk. If it does not, you can put it away. Repeat the steps for each item on your desk until everything is clear.


Share with us how you spend your first 10 minutes at the start and the end of the day by writing to us at We would love to hear from you! To engage with us on your organisational needs through our various corporate programmes, email us at This article is contributed by


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