Old habits die hard. For some, the weekday routine involves a little rest as soon as they get to work after surviving traffic gridlock and peak hour road rage. Our first hour on the job might include making toast while the computer fires up, moseying down the road for coffee ("anyone want one?"), nervously opening the inbox to see what horrors await and scanning news websites and social media to gain "a firm grasp of what's going on in the world today". But just how important are the first 60 minutes of the working day?
"It's critical to your productivity," says time management expert Elliot Hayes from findtime.com.au. "There's a saying: 'well begun is half done'. If you start the day well, you set yourself up for having a fulfilling, productive day. It's like dieting. If you have an unhealthy breakfast, the mentality tends to be you will start fresh tomorrow.
"One client told me that from now on, when he hires people, he will avoid them if they are not morning people."
However, Lisa Murray from Revive Business Coaching says placing too much emphasis on the first hour limits our potential.
"I consider every minute of the day just as important and relevant," Murray says. "Most people think that whatever you set up during that hour is what sets up your day. It is only when we come to a conclusion about how our day should be that it becomes stuck or not flowing. Being spontaneous and flexible throughout the entire day will provide a creative flow that allows your day to run with a lot more ease."
Hayes says many people start the day absorbing and responding to demands.
"One big tip I recommend is to start the day with output instead of input," he says. "That means instead of taking in information - emails sent to you, favourite coffee, chats with co-workers - try getting work out. Otherwise the problem is you waste time, and by mid-morning you don't feel like doing any more.
"So first thing send the emails you need to, call the people you have to, write the reports you're required to." Hayes says getting things done "will motivate you to keep going".
"Achieve something proactive where you feel like you're in charge and on top of what you want to do. It will have a positive ripple effect for the rest of the day.
"One client changed his whole morning routine from one of coffee, reading the sports pages and chatting with colleagues to knocking out the reports he had to do - it has changed his whole working day."
Hayes says knowing what you need to get done before you sit down results in instant output.
"Have a simple plan devised the day/evening before, outlining what you want to achieve in that first hour," he says.
"I usually don't recommend planning your day that morning, because you don't want to start the day already feeling 'behind the eight ball' [because you don't already have a plan]." Murray says: "Clear your mind of conclusions.
"Start your day with a sense of what you would like to create rather than gossiping around the coffee machine or thinking about everything that is wrong that you have to fix." Acknowledge and work on what stands out as requiring attention.
"This is not about being logical, but about using your intuition to give attention to the things that are going to make the greatest difference in moving forward, or the things that are about to go haywire and that you can change."
Elliot Hayes' timely tips
Get the blood flowing and jolt your mind into gear with breathing and stretching exercises and be conscious of how bad posture affects your mood.
Set up your email system to start up in "calendar" rather than "inbox". This will draw your attention to what you're committed to doing rather than just absorbing new (and often unimportant) information.
Turn off your email alerts. Only dive into your inbox after you've done something productive. (Hayes says some clients have directed staff to use this approach.)
If you've been procrastinating on a task, get to it first thing. Otherwise it hangs around in the back of your mind and frustrates you. Use a timer - such as e.ggtimer.com - and dedicate 15 minutes to a task you've been putting off. It will be a huge weight off your shoulders.
At the end of a productive hour, reward yourself by checking your favourite news site or grabbing a coffee. Most people don't respond well to depriving themselves of things they enjoy, so don't - simply delay them until you've hit the ground running.