The Most Important 10 Minutes of Your Day

professional productivity
Tools Ready for the Next Day
Ron Friedman is one of my favorite writers on productivity and work/life balance. In this Harvard Business Review article Ron uses Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and author, as a model for how solo-professionals can create a successful day by preparing the night before.

Chefs and line cooks have a ritual that is critical to working in a fast-paced kitchen. It’s called mise-en-place. This translates to “everything in its place” before you begin work - prioritizing tasks, setting aside tools and preparing your mindset.

In Bourdain’s best-seller “Kitchen Confidential” he wrote, “As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system… The universe is in order when your station is set…”

Friedman, Ron. “How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day.” Harvard Business Review, 5 Dec. 2017,

Action Items

As a consultant or solo-professional the most important 10 minutes of your day could be preparing your “station” the night before. Here are some tips on combining Strategic Objectives, Time Blocking and mise-en-place.

The night before,

  • Know your top three Strategic Objectives. These are objectives that move you toward your highest goals. Write them in bold at the top of your To Do list.
  • Pick three tasks that will best move the Top Three strategic objectives. Be REALISTIC.
  • Ask yourself, “When I finish work tomorrow what tasks would give me the greatest sense of accomplishment when I finish them?”
  • Write these three tasks under the Strategic Objectives.
  • Enter Time Blocks on your scheduler when you will dedicate work to each task.
  • Assign Time Blocks according to your energy/focus level during the day. For example, I know that 1:00 pm to 4:00 is a terrible time for my creative work but those times work well for research and organizing.

When you start work the next morning,

  • Before beginning work, visualize what you will accomplish. Have you watched Olympic divers or gymnasts before they start their routine? Before they move they close their eyes and feel their body moving through a perfect routine
  • Keep your energy up by holding realistic expectations. There will be interrupts! Dog’s get sick. Babies get sick. Client’s call with emergencies. Take a breath, re-center and start again
  • At the end of each day relish what you did get done. Ask what you could change tomorrow to be more effective. Do you need a different work setting? Did you underestimate what you could get done?
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Just keeping moving…

Some things I have done to prepare for a consulting engagement are,

  • Review profiles of people I’ll be interviewing
  • Collect interviewee names and phone numbers
  • Organize all materials and reports in folders or boxes ready for handing out
  • Draft a quick, high-level outline with notes so my mind can let go of the topic
  • Copy files and images into a folder for a Power Point presentation
  • Collect data files into a folder for Excel models I’m working on
  • Open MS Office files I will need, then close them. This puts the file name at the top of the File, Open list
  • Save collections of open browser tabs using the Critical to Success tip on saving named collections of Chrome browser tabs 


Strategies, Tactics, and Tips for
Consultants and Independent Professionals

Stay up to date with the latest opportunities, strategies, tactics, and tips for
independent consultants and professionals.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.