The last piece of work I do every day


Years ago, I used to plan my day in the morning. Check the calendar, to-do list, and the pile of documents, letters and files I need to work on.  

Today, I do that the night before. 

“Plan tomorrow before tomorrow begins,” became my motto after I heard the wisdom of doing that from an expert in productivity and tried it. It’s made a big difference.  

I start my day knowing what to do, when and for how long  

I’m not trying to plan my day in the morning when my energy is high and is best used doing the actual work.  

If something unexpected comes up during the day, I don’t stress about it. I either fit it in, or more likely, (calmly) schedule it for another day.

I’m more realistic about my tasks and time

When I wrote my task list in the morning, I usually put down too many things I “planned” to do. I focused on being busy, not productive, and usually finished the day with a lot of tasks undone. 

Now, I take a moment to reflect on my day and imagine myself doing those tasks. I’m more mindful and selective about what I do and have more time to do my most important tasks. 

I’m also more likely to start my workday doing something important instead of whatever is at the top of the list. 

Planning and executing are different. I execute better (more quickly, more thoughtfully, with fewer mistakes, and less likely to get distracted) when I’m not also doing the planning. 

I’m less likely to procrastinate

Not only do I have a schedule for the day, planning it the night before allows me to break down the various steps and schedule those as well. 

I know what I will do first, and what I will do after that, and because each step is smaller, I’m more likely to do them. 

I don’t feel guilty about relaxing in the evening, or compelled to get to work first thing the next day

Once I’ve planned my day, I go “off the clock”. I take it easy, watch videos or shows with my wife, read, play a few word games, and do other things humans do. 

Similarly, in the morning, I don’t feel in a rush to get to work.  

Sometimes, I get to it. Sometimes, I don’t. 

I might do some light admin work in the morning before I do my “deep work”. Or I might watch some frivolous videos and do nothing meaningful at all until I’m ready for “work mode”. Either way, because I have a plan, I don’t stress about starting my day. 

I sleep better

According to one study I heard, spending five minutes in the evening writing a task list for the next day often makes it easier to fall asleep. 

I don’t toss and turn as I remember things I need to do the following day. I’ve already decided what I will do and recorded it.

Yes, sometimes I remember things I neglected to schedule, but my phone is always nearby and I can record a quick reminder. But because I know I have a well-planned day, I can forget about it until the morning. 

I’m more productive

By making a schedule the night before instead of “the day of,” I may or may not get more work done, but I almost always get my most important work done. 

Planning your day in the morning is okay. It’s better than starting the day without a plan. But planning my day before it begins has been (to use an overused term) life-changing for me.

And I recommend you try it.