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I remember the world of ‘office’, when people would roll in at the appropriate time, make a cup of coffee and, in some cases, prepare their breakfast at their desks. (Call me picky, I ate mine before I turned up for paid work. Some may say I didn’t do any work when I got there but at least I wasn’t eating my breakfast for £15 an hour!)

After breeze shooting about the telly from the night before – “Did you see Big Brother?” “No, I have some intellect left.” – people would dive into their work. As soon as someone got up to make another coffee, that someone would say, “Anyone want coffee?” and several people who hadn’t wanted coffee until someone offered to make it for them, would say, “Yes, please!” and then (and this always amused me) they would follow the individual who’d offered to make it, join them at the kettle, make their own coffee, chatting as they did so, then thank the other person for making it, before returning to their desk to carry on the conversation that had started at the kettle.

It made oi larf, as the Wurzels sang.

The reason I reminisce is because I came across a website www.the7minutelife.com/ a while ago and one of the more interesting concepts described on that site by the author* was that of ‘5 before 11’. The idea behind that phrase was that you aimed to complete 5 of your tasks before 11 AM – ideally the important ones, but time constraints would suggest you could also consider the quick ones you didn’t really want to do, like the phone call to the complainer. By completing 5 tasks by 11AM you would make a productive start to the day.

Since retirement I have found that I usually complete all my work by 11AM, simply because I act on my Daily Action List from 9 AM and just get on with it, then ‘suddenly’ it is about 11. Disadvantage – filling the rest of the day!

But it’s a good idea. Try it – try and complete 5 of your To-Dos by 11AM, politely decline any interruptions, and see if your productivity improves. Make your own coffee and resist the urge to offer to make everyone’s – or, if you must offer, do so quietly. I find that if people block you out, you spend less time being unproductively polite.


(*Allyson Lewis – BTW, that’s not how you spell Alison, but Americans and their ‘significance by misspelling’, eh?)