Don’t begin the activities of your day until you know exactly what you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your day until you have it planned. — Jim Rohn
Every morning, get one most important thing done immediately.
There is nothing more satisfying than feeling like you’re already in the flow.
And the easiest way to trigger this feeling is to work on your most important task in the first hour.
Use your mornings for high-value work
Lean to avoid the busy work that adds no real value to your work, vision or long-term goal.
Low-value activities, including responding to notifications, or reacting to emails keep you busy and stop you from getting real work done. Make time for work that matters.
In his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen says, “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
Research shows that it takes, on average, more than 23 minutes to fully recover your concentration after a trivial interruption.
Productive mornings start with early wake-up calls
“In a poll of 20 executives cited by Vanderkam, 90% said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays.
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 a.m. and is in the office no later than 7 a.m.
Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger gets up at 4:30 to read, and Square CEO Jack Dorsey is up at 5:30 to jog.”
The first quiet hour of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted.
Don’t plan your day in the first hour of your morning
Cut the planning and start doing real work. You are most active on a Monday Morning.
Think about it. After a weekend of recovery, you have the most energy, focus and discipline to work on your priorities.
Don’t waste all that mental clarity and energy planning what to do in the next eight hours.
Do your planning the night before.
Think of Sunday as the first chance to prepare yourself for the week’s tasks.
Monday mornings will feel less dreadful and less overwhelming if you prepare the night before.
If you choose to prioritize …
There are one million things you could choose to do in your first hour awake.
If you choose to start your day with a daily check list/to-do list, make sure that next to every task you have the amount of time it will take to complete them.
The value of the of putting time to tasks is that, every time you check something off, you are able to measure how long it took you to get that task done, and how much progress you are making to better plan next time.
Get the uncomfortable out of the way
You probably know about Brian Tracy’s “eat-a-frog” – technique from his classic time-management book, Eat That Frog?
In the morning, right after getting up, you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day (= the frog).
Ideally you’ve defined this task in the evening of the previous day.
Completing an uncomfortable or difficult task not only moves it out of your way, but it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.
Do you have a plan from yesterday?
Kenneth Chenault, former CEO and Chairman of American Express, once said in an interview that the last thing he does before leaving the office is to write down the top 3 things to accomplish tomorrow, then using that list to start his day the following morning.
This productivity hack works for me.
It helps me focus and work on key tasks. It also helps me disconnect at the end of the day and allow time for my brain to process and reboot.
Trust me, planning your day the night before will give you back a lot wasted hours in the morning and lower your stress levels.
Try this tonight.
If you’re happy with the results, then commit to trying it for a week.
After a week, you’ll be able to decide whether you want to add “night-before planning” to your life.
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This article first appeared on Medium.