There are just several productivity tips that always work. If you follow them, improvement is guaranteed. It always astounds me when I test these out and see immediate results. One of these tips is to prepare your next day in the evening before going to sleep. Sounds easy and trivial. But it's really powerful.
It takes only 5 minutes to create a to-do list for tomorrow
That's it. Just in the evening review your day, decide what's REALLY important that needs to be done tomorrow and write these tasks down on a piece of paper. Limit yourself to 3-4 tasks that need to be completed as soon as possible. Don't open your Nozbe or other task manager - put these 3-4 tasks on piece of paper next to your computer.
Close your Email programs and other apps, including most (if not all) of your browser windows.
Next day when you walk to your computer you'll have the task list next to it. You'll open your computer and you'll know exactly what to do. It's that easy.
I know it's still hard to withstand all the temptations to check email, Facebook, Twitter... but don't go that way... just proceed to complete the tasks you've set out to do.
After that you'll have a really good day
Once these tasks are done, you can proceed to email and other activities. You can open your Nozbe or other task manager to check other tasks and manage your projects. You can quickly check off the things you've done in the morning with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Now the day starts and you have a head-start of completing the most important actions for today.
My last 2 weeks have been uber-productive
That's right. For the last two weeks I've been religiously, every day, compiling my lists of tasks "for tomorrow" and each day was just perfect. I feel I've done so much! The thing is - we're just humans and we tend to be side-tracked by other people, projects, events... but with the golden list "for tomorrow" I'm guaranteed I'm going to get the big things done before I enter the reaction mode of email, social networks and other folks from my company.
Added bonus - your mind is working when you sleep
That's another thing - some tasks I set out to do the next day were quite complicated... but as I've defined them in the evening, my mind was working on these when I was sleeping... and when I woke up I suddenly had almost all the answers and was never "stuck". I don't have any scientific evidence for that but only a gut feeling that it works. My last two weeks proved me right. Trust me.
Don't go to sleep without a plan for tomorrow
That's the key to my everyday productivity. A small trick that gets a job done. If you don't trust me, just check out how John Cleese explains this:
Michael is an Internet entrepreneur who is running Nozbe, editing the Productive! Magazine, showing off his tips and tricks in Productive! Show, blogging on this blog and writing books, articles for various magazines, speaking at conferences or advising other startups. He's constantly building new, exciting and often secret things.
He's a product guy. Learn more about Michael