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Increase Your Morning Productivity by Starting the Night Before

If you’re like me, how you start your day usually provides the foundation for how the rest of your day will go. Sure, things inevitably come up which can steer the day in a different direction. By developing a morning routine and accomplishing your most important tasks first thing in the morning, you ensure that even if the day throws you a curve-ball, that you’re still moving ahead on your priorities and various projects.

To help with this, I recommend starting the night before. Spend a few minutes each evening planning out your next day. Once you get this routine down, it should only take you 15 minutes or so. Here is my nightly checklist:

  1. Write my to-do list: At the end of each work day I review what was accomplished for that day and set my priorities for the next day, including if there are any meetings, presentations or upcoming deadlines that I need to begin working on. This allows me to immediately jump into my day without using precious quiet morning time to plan my day.
  2. Organize my desk: While I actually clean my desk every Sunday night during my weekly review, I take a couple of minutes to tidy up any loose papers and reset any gear that may have gotten moved around during the day. This prevents me from feeling disorganized first thing in the morning, thus allowing for a more productive start to the day.
  3. Layout clothes: Though I have become a morning person since moving to San Francisco, it is still hard to wake up at 5a to head to the gym. To make this easier, I lay out my workout clothes so that I’m not fumbling around for them when my brain isn’t fully functioning yet. I also take care of any ironing or other prep that is needed for my work clothes.
  4. Pack work and fitness gear: Since I primarily work from my home office, I don’t have to pack a gear bag on a daily basis. However, if I am going to be at one of our offices or am getting ready to travel then I pack my work and fitness gear the night before.
  5. Put things where they can’t be forgotten: Everything that needs to make it into a pocket or that I grab as I leave is put on the corner of our kitchen counter. This way I’m not trying to remember where I put my wallet or don’t forget my headphones before leaving. Any time that is spent wandering around the house looking for these items is time that could be spent at the gym.
  6. Prep the tea kettle: I am not a coffee or tea drinker but Laura does like a cup of tea in the morning. Since I get home from the gym before she wakes up, I prep the tea kettle the night before so that when I walk back in, all I have to do is turn it on. I used to also prep my workout supplements the night before but found that the powder settled to much and didn’t mix well when exposed to the air for that long.

Looking for more details? I explained the importance of my morning routine during an interview on The Work Talk Show which you can check out.

Whatever your morning routine is, you should take a few minutes the evening before to help the morning version of you. Not only will it help you get your morning started quicker, you are likely more alert the night before and therefore will accomplish these tasks quicker.

Question:What tasks are you doing in the morning that could be done the night before?

Photo Credit: Mufidah Kassalias