richard-whatlely-quote

Get ready for tomorrow by making a plan today

April 28, 2021
In this ever-connected world we live in, the line between work and home life has become blurred.

By Rob Clifton, Motion

One of the best productivity tips I've ever found is to take a few minutes at the end of each workday and make a plan for the next day. Knowing what you need to accomplish tomorrow allows you to make a clean break from today and begin the transition to personal life. 

In this ever-connected world we live in, the line between work and home life has become blurred. We feel the need to check our phone constantly for fear of missing something. We ignore the real world around us in favor of a digital world that keeps calling. Shallow, fake relationships have replaced deep, meaningful ones. There is so much going on, how can we possibly get it all done?

The first step is to have a plan. If you start each day by spending the first few minutes (or more) trying to figure out what you should be doing, you're wasting precious time that you'll never get back. There is an old saying that I've found to be true: If you waste an hour in the morning, you'll spend all day looking for it.

Instead, hit the ground running as soon as your workday begins. Regardless of whether you work in an office, at home, at a coffee shop or by the pool, once you sit down to work you need a plan. Otherwise, the temptation to give in to distractions will eventually overpower you. Be proactive, not reactive.

When you plan your day the night before, several things happen, and they all work to your advantage.

  1. When you go to bed with a plan for tomorrow, you can feed your subconscious during the night. The alternative is to lie awake thinking about all the things you must get done tomorrow. Which do you think produces less stress?
  2. Less stress = better sleep. Research on sleep consistently demonstrates that high levels of stress lead to poor sleep. Being able to mentally detach from the demands of life will help you get a good night's rest and wake up feeling refreshed instead of hungover. It will also help you fall asleep faster too, meaning more total sleep time.
  3. You wake up with an intention for the day. Think back to the last highly productive day you had. Did you hit the ground running or did you float through the morning with no idea what you needed to be doing? 
  4. You'll get more done. Have you ever noticed the incredibly high levels of productivity we seem to experience the day before we leave for vacation? What would happen in your life if you were able to function like that more than just a couple of days a year?

I can tell you without a doubt that this simple idea is a game changer. If I go to bed worrying about everything I need to get done, I feel overwhelmed. I wake up in the morning looking for ways to avoid what needs to be done. My procrastination goes through the roof. My stress level skyrockets and my productivity plummets. It's a vicious cycle that's hard to break.

On the other hand, if I have already laid out a plan for how I'm going to spend my time (not just a long to-do list, but an actual schedule of events), I feel much more at peace and I wake up ready to face the day knowing what must be done and when.

It's the difference between going into work wondering what kind of day lies ahead and knowing (or creating) the day you want to have. There will still be distractions, but with a plan you'll be much more likely to roll with the punches because you know what needs to get done.

So figure out a plan of attack for tomorrow, and leave work knowing that it will be there when you get back. Make a clean break.

Now go home and be more present with the ones who really matter.

About the Author: Rob Clifton

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