What is the first thing you do at work once you log into your computer? No really think about it, is it the same thing you were doing a year ago. I can almost track my career by the changes in what I do first thing in the morning.
When I was a junior developer, bright eyed and bushy tailed I checked my email first thing. It was a bit of a novelty to receive professional email and it made me feel a bit like an adult. Email seemed like the corporate information channel, so I thought as a responsible professional I should clear my email first thing and check it regularly during the day. The thing is though I didn't really get that much email as a junior.
As I started to become more senior I started to get more email. I also started to get more interruptions during the day. The morning started to be that really nice period where nobody talked to me. So I started to code first thing. Email could wait till I was being interrupted anyway. So my morning routine became code until I was interrupted, get off to a productive start, then once I start being interrupted anyway, start checking the email in the gaps.
Now days my prime responsibility isn't delivering code myself, it's ensuring the team delivers. So the first thing I do in the morning is check the time-logging & burn-downs. I just want to know what kind of day I'm going to have. Is everything going smoothly or do I need to dig in and find out what is going wrong. Then I code to keep my own sanity, email can wait.
I never really understood the fetish for metrics and dashboards that seems to afflict managers. But I'm starting to get it. At a glance I need to know what I need to worry about today, can I focus on what I need to deliver personally or is there a crisis brewing that I need to intercept. These quick informational hardly show the full picture, but they give enough of a hint about where I need to focus for the day.