Does your Outlook start on emails? Wrong! Here is why.

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According to David Rock in “Your brain at work”, prioritizing our daily tasks is the first thing we should do in the morning. In other words, we should prioritize prioritizing. Why?

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In the morning our brain is “fresh” and full of energies. As we start to work, it will burn mental fuel and eventually will need to be recharged. Prioritizing is per se an energy intensive process, so if we do it as first thing in the morning, with full charge, we will obtain better results. The rest of the day will take advantage of a well done prioritization and we will work more effectively.

On the other hand, starting our day with emails is not a smart choice. Doing emails is also an energy hungry task for our brain. If this is the first thing we jump on in the morning, the task will much of the available energy. When we then move to prioritizing the rest of the day, our brain will have less energy available and the outcome of the task will be sub-optimal. As a consequence we will work for the rest of the day on a task sequence that has not been wisely chosen.

How can we help ourselves to start the day with the right foot then? Most of us use Outlook as an email program. We could start the day by focusing on prioritizing tasks and then start Outlook to look at emails (especially urgent ones). The problem is that prioritizing the day may need information that are in the Outlook calendar and, when we start Outlook to look into it, emails pop up first, distracting us from the most important task.

But wait, here is a trick. There is a way to change how Outlook starts so that it will show the calendar as first screen rather than emails. Having Outlook start on the Calendar rather than on emails will also serve as a reminder to prioritize prioritizing.

To have Outlook 2003/2007 start on Calendar rather than on emails:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
2. Click the Other tab, and then click Advanced Options.
3. Under General Settings, next to the Startup in this folder box, click Browse.
4. In the Select Folder dialog box, select Calendar as the folder you want to appear when you start Microsoft Outlook.

Happy prioritization!

Ciao,
Marco.

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