Prepare your next day in the evening

Michael Sliwinski — №9 with Laura Stack

There are just a few productivity tips that always work. If you follow them, improvement is guaranteed. It always astounds me when I test these out and see immediate results. One of these tips is to prepare your next day in the evening before going to sleep. Sounds easy and trivial. But it’s really powerful

It takes only 5 minutes to create a to-do list for tomorrow

That’s it. Just in the evening review your day, decide what’s REALLY important that needs to be done tomorrow and write these tasks down on a piece of paper. Limit yourself to 3—4 tasks that need to be completed as soon as possible. Don’t open your Nozbe or other task manager — put these 3—4 tasks on piece of paper next to your computer.

Close your email programs and other apps, including most (if not all) of your browser windows. The next day when you walk to your computer you’ll have the task list next to it. You’ll open your computer and you’ll know exactly what to do. It’s that easy.

I know it’s still hard to withstand all the temptations to check email, Facebook, Twitter… but don’t go that way… just proceed to complete the tasks you’ve set out to do.

After that you’ll have a really good day

Once these tasks are done, you can proceed to email and other activities. You can open your task manager to check other tasks and manage your projects. You can quickly check off the things you’ve done in the morning with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Now the day starts and you have a head-start on completing the most important actions for today.

My last 2 weeks have been uber-productive

That’s right. For the last two weeks I’ve been religiously, every day, compiling my lists of tasks “for tomorrow” and each day was just perfect. I feel I’ve done so much! The thing is — we’re just humans and we tend to be side-tracked by other people, projects, and events. However, with the golden list “for tomorrow” I’m guaranteed I’m going to get the big things done before I enter the reaction mode of email, social networks, and responding to the other folks from my company.

Added bonus — your mind is working when you sleep

That’s another thing — some tasks I set out to do the next day were quite complicated, but since I had defined them in the evening, my mind was working on them while I was sleeping…and when I woke up I suddenly had most the answers and never felt “stuck.” I don’t have any scientific evidence for that but only a gut feeling that’s how it works. My last two weeks proved me right. Trust me.

Don’t go to sleep without a plan for tomorrow

That’s the key to my everyday productivity. A small trick that gets a job done.

Photo: Flickr / Fabio Aro CC BY-ND 2.0

Michael sliwinski

Michael Sliwinski

Michael Sliwinski is the editor of the Productive! Magazine, the founder of Nozbe (a time and project management application for busy professionals), and a best-selling author of the #iPadOnly book.

Visit Michael's blog Follow @MSliwinski on Twitter Check out his book: #iPadOnly