Many productivity experts recommend planning your next day the evening before. It allows you to “hit the ground running.”
For me this doesn’t work.
When I reach the end of my day, my mind is exhausted. Not in a negative way, but more like how your body feels after finishing a run or workout; a satisfying kind of exhaustion. I’m not sure if this is normal, but I’m quite aware of my energy levels throughout the day and schedule my work accordingly: difficult stuff in the morning, routine things in the afternoon. By the time I reach the early evening, I’ve exactly exhausted my brain and am not capable of deep thinking.
Now what does that have to do with planning your next day?
Research shows that prioritizing and planning are high energy tasks. Without a clear and recharged mind, I find it difficult to make the right decisions about how to break down a project, and weighing what’s important versus what’s not.
Perhaps it’s easy if your days and todo lists are straightforward, but mine are not. There are always lots of different moving parts, many projects ongoing, and new information and requests come in all the time. To break that down, keep the overview on what’s truly important, and make the difficult trade-offs on what to prioritize and what to ignore is not easy. It costs time and mental energy.
For this reason, I end up planning my days in the morning, not the night before. Usually this takes me around 10 to 20 minutes. Precious time for sure, but I’d rather make sure I’m working on the right things than to hit the ground running in the wrong direction!