Often, the first hour of the workday can set the tone for the rest of the day. Are you starting off discombobulated? Are you already late for a meeting? Did you forget what the deliverables are for your latest project? Are you behind even though you’re just out of the gate? Kicking off your day prepared and ready to go can be as simple as using the last hour of each workday to your advantage. Try these five steps to see if your days start running more smoothly.
- To-Do Lists: Today’s and Tomorrow’s. Look over your list for today and be sure you’ve checked everything off. If not, can you still fit it in? Or can it wait until tomorrow? Once you’ve reviewed and completed today’s list, start creating your list for tomorrow. Break each component into any milestones it might include so you can be sure to complete all steps. At the top of tomorrow’s list, write the three most important tasks you need to be sure to complete. That way, you’ll know especially where to focus.
- Review Your Schedule for Tomorrow. Do you have any meetings? Be sure you know when they are and what you’ll need to bring to each one. If possible and if you need it, consider blocking off a few minutes before each meeting starts to prepare for it. Also consider blocking off time for checking email. Dealing with email only once or twice a day can help you stay focused on each task at hand.
- Clean Your Desk and Computer Desktop. It’s hard to start a day on a messy note. Clearing any untidy paperwork or trash from your desk and managing documents and notes on your computer will help you hit the ground running tomorrow morning. You’ll walk into a tidy workspace, already more organized.
- Hydrate and Get Moving. Being properly hydrated helps your body function at its optimal level and helps you stay alert, especially after a long day. Hydration is important throughout the day, but if you’re like most American workers, you likely neglect that important piece. While you’re gearing up for tomorrow, drink some water to start to replenish. Also get your body moving. Odds are good that your day was mostly sedentary, so your body will be eager to move a little. Even if it’s only taking the stairs instead of the elevator to your parking level, being active will get your blood pumping and will help you let go of today’s stress, which will in turn set you up for a brighter tomorrow.
- Leave Work at Work. Once you shut everything down and walk out the door, make a pact with yourself to leave the office behind. This can be a tough one because you might have deadlines that require some after-hours work. If that’s the case, give yourself at least a couple hours’ break from office work so you can unwind and refresh a little before hitting the grind again.
Taking the time to get prepared for tomorrow can set you up for better success. Give it a try to see what happens!