Prepare your next day in the evening

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:

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Monday, May 30, 2011 (productivity)

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May 31, 2011 10:16
The written checklist for tomorrow, next to the computer, might be a good idea but I wonder if there is not a risk that these next actions, if not done this same day, might be lost because not registered in a trusted system (Nozbe, Omnifocus etc ...)
May 31, 2011 13:19
I have recently started doing something similar by posing myself a question to be answered or an idea to be inspired with as I go to sleep at night. I find it works well.

Our subconscious can do a lot for us over night if we ask it.

Michael Sliwinski
May 31, 2011 14:39
All my actions are in my trusted system (Nozbe) but I choose to have the 3-4 big actions for tomorrow on a separate sheet of paper in order not to see more actions or projects in Nozbe. Not to get distracted, FMter - thanks for the comment!

Beverley - yes, it's amazing what our mind can do. Today we launched Productive! Magazine - normally the launch would take me a whole day with distractions and all... but thanks to the fact that it was my first big thing to do today, by 11 am I was done :-)

Jun 3, 2011 11:49
3th day I test this strategy - it's quite greate :)

I am strong supporter of "Getting results" and idea of "3 daily outcomes".

Thus before sleep I recommend to set "3 daily outcomes" (instead of described in article "setting goals"). Details what is "outcome" check on

Best wishes & results!

Michael Sliwinski
Jun 3, 2011 12:03
The strategy of preparing next day in the evening works miracles for me, glad it works for you, too. Thanks for suggesting your book to me, I'll be happy to read it soon (maybe this weekend?). Thanks Mark!