What you do the evening before matters just as much as what you do each morning. In fact, what you do the night before makes it much more likely that you’ll accomplish what you’re aiming to get done on any given day.
The method you use doesn’t matter. I’m a believer that calendars are more effective than to do lists, but there’s another camp that believes in to do lists, or what is known as the Ivy Lee Method:
Finish each day by writing the five most important things you want to get done tomorrow and start each day by working those five things. You can also schedule those five things on your calendar. It doesn’t matter as long as those five things get done.
The most effective productivity systems are quite simple when you dissect them. But we keep searching for life and productivity “hacks” because doing so ironically makes us feel productive. If you spend an entire day reading articles about productivity, like this one, you’re not productive. The only way you find out if something works for YOU is to implement it and see what happens.
I’m continually experimenting with productivity systems because many of the ones that have gotten me to this point haven’t been working as well. The very things that allowed me to finish my first manuscript in 6 months weren’t working on my upcoming book. As a result, I was forced to reexamine some parts of my 8-step daily routine. And there are times when my daily routine simply gets shot to hell.
The one commonality between all my unproductive days was that I didn’t plan my day the night before.
The day I wrote this article, I put the five things I wanted to get done into my Productivity Planner. By about 9:30 am I’d completed everything on the list.
We have a limited amount of willpower every day. With each decision we make that willpower gets depleted. If you don’t plan your days the night before, you waste your willpower on deciding what your essential priorities are. By planning your days the night before you reduce decision fatigue, and preserve your willpower for your deepest most meaningful work.
If you plan the day the night before, you’ll be amazed at how much your overall productivity skyrockets.If you have no clarity about what it is you’re trying to get done on any given day, you’ll be busy, but not productive. If you plan your days the night before you, you’ll not only get more done in less time. You’ll also experience more flow.
My best mornings look a bit like this:
75 Minutes of Deep work (Reading/Writing)
Rehearse for upcoming talks
email and social media
If you give yourself a basic framework for your days, you’ll be much more likely to pack your days with useful work that adds value to your life. The beautiful thing about a framework is that it’s not rigid. It can be adjusted day to day to your liking. It helps you to accommodate changes in your schedule.
The first hour of the day is one of the most critical. It sets the tone for what the rest of your day will be like. You should ideally spend it on meaningful activities.
If you spend the first hour of your day distracted by pings, buzzes, notifications, and dopamine, the rest of your day will be pretty much the same. On the other hand, if you spend the first hour of the day working on your
When you plan the day the night before, there’s no guesswork as to what you’ll be doing when you sit down to work in the morning.
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