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Prep the Night Before

by Randall Craig on March 3, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Time management

Tagged as: , ,

How often have you booked an early morning meeting (or airplane flight), and needed to be out the door far earlier than normal? Or stressed over a critical meeting, hoping that everything will turn out right?

One of the most powerful concepts in time management (and in project management) is the concept of prep the night before. There is a lot beneath this seemingly simple concept:

  • At night, when you have the momentum, put together a to-do list for the next morning; you’ll be ready to start with a bang.
  • Avoid risks by doing as much as possible beforehand: who knows what might happen that morning?
  • And yes, remember to choose your clothes the night before: it can save you precious time when you wake up.

Furthermore, when you “sleep on it” – when you split tasks between two days – there is an opportunity to improve the quality of your work. This tipsheet and blog, for example, is rarely written in one sitting: it’s written on a Monday, and edited/posted the next day. (Too often, the immediacy of Social Media causes us to forget about prep the night before.

On the other hand, there may be some activities that are best done first thing in the morning – checking the news falls into this category. Everything has its proper time, but we are creatures of habit – and sometimes our habits aren’t as good as they could be.

This week’s action item: Look at your calendar over the last seven days. What were the last few things you did each evening, and what are the first few things you did each morning? Over the next seven days, rearrange your to-do list to make sure that you are doing the right things at the right times. Prepping the night before means that you’ll be more prepared the morning after – something others will notice immediately.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)