Habit #4: Plan Your Day the Night Before
The only thing that separates successful people from everyone else is the ability to take action.
However, it’s one thing to take action without a plan. Truly successful people plan their days before they execute.
A good sniper always acquires their target with proper aim before they shoot.
And that’s why you should get into the habit of planning your day the night before.
Why Should You Start Planning the Day Before
Why should you start planning your day the night before? Well, it gives you a sense of purpose. When you decide to create an external list of things you want to tackle, it will limit decision fatigue.
And decision fatigue is a real problem that affects us in our day to day lives. Everyday you have small decisions to make and how you are going to prioritise them.
What time will you wake up? What are you going to wear? What will you eat for breakfast?
The more decisions you have to make during your day will eventually worsen the quality of those decisions. This just leads to stress overload.
This is why Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg have been known to reduce their everyday clothing down to one or two outfits so they can focus on the bigger decisions.
Think of ways you can limit your decision fatigue and automate menial decisions that can overload your brain:
- Keep your keys, wallet, and phone in one designated area at all times in your house
- Leave your toothbrush in the shower or keep it in your room
- Eat the same dinner for a week
- Lay out your outfit the night before
Automating decisions like these can leave more room for the bigger decisions or tasks for the next day.
So when you plan what you’re going to do the night before, you don’t have to sweat the small stuff.
Now you can go to sleep better; knowing exactly what you’re going to take on. This will give you laser focus and be more efficient at reaching your deadlines.
How To Plan the day Before
So how exactly are you going to plan your day the night before? There is not a one size fits all approach.
You have to consider your 24 hours and what you can do.
Some people like to use metrics such as time-blocking. Time-blocking is simply designating a window of your time to a specific or several tasks.
Again, this is great for limiting decision fatigue. So think of how much time you can block out and focus on without distraction.
Maybe 30 minutes of taking that online trading course in the morning. Or an hour exercising in the afternoon.
You know yourself best. So block out a time when you are most productive.
Or you can simply use Time On-Time Off. You can spend 30 minutes on a task and then take 30 minutes doing whatever you want.
But if timed metrics are not your style. You can Task-Challenge. Simply write down 1-5 things down you want to get done before you go to bed.
This is more for the procrastinators who don’t want to constrict themselves to a time. It’s a pressure-free way of doing things.
As long as you check off what you planned to complete.
But remember, planning your tasks the night before is about having a plan or schedule.
It is not a promise that you will get it done. Don’t stress yourself out and hold yourself at gunpoint because you did not finish a certain task because of an unforeseen incident or emergency.
Life happens and stuff gets in the way.
Accept a change of plan when necessary.
You can also use a diary, notepad, planners or online trackers such as Trello to help you plan your tasks the night before.
This will keep you organized and accountable. Plus, it feels good to cross off certain tasks that you planned to take care of.
Afterwards, track your progress after a certain period of time and see if you’re making progress. Are you getting results? Have you become more productive in the past 6 months?
Ease into it
Depending on how hectic your life is, maybe making this a habit can take some time. But you have to make it a habit and start either way.
So try this for one night. Note down your results. You can see if you took on too little or too much then readjust.
Try it for a week. Slowly incorporate this into your lifestyle. It’s absolutely powerful. And who else but the master author of time-management Alan Lakein sum up the power of planning?
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”