What questions do you ask yourself to prepare for the day?
That sounds like a trick question because I don’t really prepare for the day. I prepare for the following day before I leave my office each night. I always ask myself these questions to help me prepare for the day:
What didn’t I get done today?
I review my digital task list and move all outstanding tasks from today to tomorrow with a few simple clicks. While I do this I integrate the current day’s unfinished tasks with the tasks I have scheduled for tomorrow.
What appointments and meetings do I have lined up?
I look at my calendar to see what I have scheduled for the following day. A large part of my day is often comprised of client sessions, industry meetings, or the occasional doctor’s or school appointment. By knowing what I have scheduled for the following day I am able to create a realistic task list based on my availability. I am also able to see if additional preparation is needed for any of my scheduled appointments such as stopping for gas, reading through a new client’s questionnaire, or creating bullet points to speak about at a meeting. This additional preparation is required for me to show up to every appointment well-prepared.
Is there anything else I need to do?
I take a complete inventory of my brain for anything in my head that may have not made it to my task list yet. A few times a day I think of something I need to do while I am in the middle of something else and can’t create a task for it immediately. Instead, I take a few minutes each night to review my calendar against any notes I have taken to help trigger my memory. I then capture any tasks I may have missed and assign them for when they need to be completed, often the following day.
At the end of each day rack your brain for any to-do’s that have not made it to your task list.Click To Tweet
What are my priorities?
Once I have reflected on every single task that I plan to undertake the following day, I prioritize in order of what needs to be done first. Because I am personally at my highest energy level first thing in the morning, I choose to work on my most important tasks earlier. Scheduling in this manner also ensures I will actually have time to accomplish my most important tasks and not have to roll them over to the next day. I also batch similar tasks together. For instance, I like to make all of my calls back-to-back, draft all of my emails in a single sitting, and handle all client-specific tasks within the same time period. I take the time to prioritize tasks for my following day so that I am able to work more efficiently.
What isn’t in its place?
Spatial organization is important to me because if my surroundings are a mess, it diminishes my ability to focus on the task at hand. Knowing that, I always look around my workspace and return everything to its rightful home if it is out of place before leaving my office for the night. Stapler to the drawer, file folder to the cabinet, water bottle to the recycling bin, and so on. That way when I sit down to start working in the morning totally refreshed from a good night’s sleep, I can focus on my tasks without having to first rid my desk of clutter.
I believe planning for your following day at the end of your work day is a great way to put all of your ducks in a row and not forget any important details that needs your attention. It also ensures you don’t miss that rare 7am appointment that you booked months ago and whose reminder alert you disregarded earlier in the day because you were in the middle of an important task. Plan ahead by preparing a day in advance. It’s that simple.
Planning for your following day is a great way to put all of your ducks in a row and not forget any important detail that needs your attention.Click To Tweet
While adequately preparing for the following day is important, I also typically prepare for the whole week and let it drive my individual days. Planning day to day alone can get you stuck in the weeds because it makes everything look urgent or important. It’s necessary to have the big picture in mind. Otherwise we’d be destined to lose track of all of the moving parts. As humans we’re also more subjective to the way we feel from day to day so planning for the entire week enables us to see the larger scope of where we need to be and what we need to be working on. Working backwards from your bigger goals to your monthly, weekly, then daily goals will help you to align your actions with them and achieve greater success.
Strive to plan your day in accordance with your bigger goals that fit on a more comprehensive scale. Instead of planning your day then trying to make what you’ve accomplished fit into your overall plan, let your long-term goals dictate the priority of your daily goals. To do that, you must engage in some strategic thinking and plan weeks if not months in advance, not just day to day!
Take Action Challenge:
Commit to reviewing your task list at the end of
each work day to better prepare for the following day.
Please share your commitment in the comments below.