The alarm goes off and you jump out of bed towards the bathroom. You splash some water on your face and stare at your wardrobe trying to think of what to wear to the office. Wait — no time for that, you’re going to miss your train!

The next hour is a blur of carparks and kid drop-offs. When you finally get to sit down on your commute, you open up your laptop and are horrified to see 100-plus new emails have pinged into your inbox.

In the following 30 minutes, you manage to delete 27 newsletters, reject 11 meeting invites and respond in detail to just two emails. It’s only 8.30 am and your brain is fried.

By the time you get to the office you are exhausted, not to mention 10 minutes late to your first meeting.

Unfortunately, scenarios like this are all too common for all too many people.

We start off our day on the wrong foot, stressed and rushing for the door, only to open up our computers and be inundated with requests from other people and actions that take us away from our most valuable tasks for the day.

How can we expect to get a valuable day’s work done if we start it by reacting to whatever is in our inbox or whoever is at our desk?

You’re stuck in a vicious cycle: starting the day tired, doing the best you can through to the afternoon, working late, going home grumpy and then waking up the next morning to start the cycle all over again.

To try and fix the problem, you’ve been to endless time management courses and read all the productivity books in ...

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