Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
Most of us wake up each morning with the intention to make the most of the day ahead. Unfortunately, though productivity isn’t exactly rocket science, many of us still struggle to maximize the time we are given.
When it comes to productivity, I’ve found that it all boils down to efficiency and more importantly, learning to plan ahead – and doing it well.
With that in mind, here are 5 simple yet effective things that I do prior to ending each day to help ensure that I am able to be my most productive the following day:
1. Jot down a ‘must-do’ list
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been pretty productive. I enjoy doing things effectively and efficiently. Even then, I felt that there’s still much that I can do to maximize my time.
So, in an attempt to boost my productivity level, instead of noting all the tasks that I have to get done prior to beginning each day, over the last several years, I’ve jotted them down the night before.
By doing this, I can start my day tackling the items on my list, rather than having to think about what I need to tackle first. Truth be told, I didn’t expect that something so simple can help significantly boost my productivity – and yet it did.
This tip comes in handy especially during days you anticipate to be more hectic or full than others. Whilst writing down your next day to-do list is probably the last thing you want to do before you hit the hay, you’ll be glad you did.
Having my list of MITs (Most Important Tasks) aka the top 5-10 things I *must* get done that day, prepared in advance enables me to hit the ground running. It keeps me focused instead of aimlessly squandering time throughout the day.
As George Lorimer, a renowned journalist & author said, when you wake up every morning with determination, you’ll be going to bed with satisfaction.
2. Plan outfits in advance
One of the most annoying thing that we probably encounter in the morning – especially if you’re female – is deciding what to wear. Before I made planning my outfit a part of my nightly routine, there were days where I would spend way too much time staring at my closet and desperately pairing on clothes for the day.
Yes, I know, it all sounds so trivial, after all, I can simply just pick out the first thing I see and stick with it. But ladies, you know that it doesn’t quite work out that way.
Admittedly, it took me a while to realize that the more that I get done the night before, the less chance I encounter such situations. So, these days, I would ensure to check tomorrow’s weather forecast each night and pick my outfit accordingly.
3. Spill it all out
..in a journal, that is.
Had a bad day? I urge you to write it down.
“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” Will Rogers hit the nail on the head. Can you imagine just how much time we spend rehashing problems or issues that we faced during the day long after they have passed?
Well, if you’re anything like me, the answer is probably ‘countless’. One thing that has certainly helped me to keep the past in the past is writing it all down.
Though I’ve regularly journaled during my teen years, I had stopped doing so in my early twenties because I thought that I’ve outgrown it. Little did I realize that keeping a journal offers a wealth of benefits! For starters, it has helped me to increase my productivity because it allows me to ‘leave’ the past behind and keeps me focused in the present moment.
4. Plan meals in advance
I don’t know about you but trying to decide what and where I should eat often takes up a whole lot more time that it should. Sometimes, I would even give up and decide to skip a meal because I simply can’t be bothered to make a decision.
If productivity is what you’re aiming for, you must fuel your body accordingly and skipping meals or reaching for junk (fast) food that will wreak havoc on your health, in the long run, is a definite faux pax.
Luckily, the solution is pretty simple – I plan my meals in advance. Sure, this definitely takes effort but it really is worth it. Most of the time, I would end up cooking my own meals and have it prepared in advanced. If I opt to mix it up and head out for my meals that day, I would already have a deli/cafe/restaurant in mind along with the dish(es) that I’d like to order already in mind.
5. Do an activity that gives you joy
Keep in mind that sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life. If you don’t pay to prioritize getting the rest you need, it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight.
Want to get a good night sleep and wake up feeling happy and refreshed? Studies show that doing something that you enjoy and helps you relax before bed helps tremendously. And I personally found this to potent!
The activity doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time — just make sure that it’s something that nourishes you.
Here are some examples of activities:
- Read a book or magazine by a soft (yellow) light
- Take a warm bath
- Listen to an audiobook
- Listen to soft music
- Do some easy stretches e.g: light yoga poses
Note that exposures to bright light found on screens (laptop, TV, computers, etc.) may actually prevent you from a good night’s sleep. Hence, it’d be wise to opt-out of watching your TV shows or checking on your phone at least 15 minutes before your desired bedtime!