“Well begun is half done.” ~Aristotle

"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow." ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The beginning of your morning can often set the tone for the rest of your day. You can walk in to distractions, emergencies, competing priorities, etc. that can have you reeling throughout your whole day, or you can begin working your plan right away and accomplish a ton. Can you remember a time where you didn’t accomplish a single thing that you had set out to do at the beginning of your day? I’d bet you can, because I think we have all had (many of) those days.

What I’ve found on mornings where I “hit the ground running” is that I often look up after a bit and find that a) It may have seemed like only an hour, but I’m already a couple of hours through the day, and b) I’ve already accomplished half a day’s worth of work. That’s a “win-win” in my book. In those cases where I have been able to accomplish this I have invariably done one thing:

Spend a few minutes before leaving the office the prior night setting up the next day

Having a goal and a plan are two of the first things you need to have to operate at peak efficiency. Why should your work day be any different? A few minutes at the end of your day can set you on the right course, free distraction, and help you prioritize. So what do you focus on in this short 5-15 minutes at the end of the day when you are worn out? Three things:

Clean your plate – One of the things the most productive people do is to not work on yesterday’s work today. That last e-mail instructing someone what to do, one last phone call, that last report that needs to be done, a little bit of research, etc. can keep you on top of things and clear out any backlog that will mess with your tomorrow. Imagine sitting down to dinner to find last night’s dinner scraps still on the plate? Not a pretty vision is it? Every day has enough things to keep you busy, no need to fill them up to overflowing with items from prior days.

Set the schedule – Don’t waste time in the morning wondering what you should do, or worse, using that as an excuse to procrastinate starting. Set your schedule ahead of time. New tasks that hit you on the way in the door should either fall into an allotted time that you set aside for it (a very smart idea) or after what you set out to do the night before.

Set the priority – This is where you set that “one thing I am going to accomplish today” that never seems to get done. Focus on getting that out of the way as soon as possible. You will be amazed at the feeling of accomplishment you have once you do so. Depending on what tasks pop-up every morning you may need to plan some time to handle some of those, but let your top priority be your main focus until it is done.

How we spend the first hour of our day sets the momentum for the rest of the day. Make every effort to start strong by strongly preparing.

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