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  • Angela Gault

Five Reasons Why You Should Prepare Your To-Do List The Night Before

The day has turned to night and you’re looking forward to crawling into bed and getting some much needed shut-eye. It’s been another long day and once you lay your head on your pillow you’re not sure if you have the energy to lift your book anywhere near your face to read it. Not that it really matters because you always fall asleep within two minutes which means you’ve been re-reading the same page for the last two weeks.

Your mind still feels full with all the events and thoughts of the day and trying to look towards what the next twenty-four hours has in store feels like it’s too much to handle right now. You decide to deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

Why you should deal with tomorrow tonight

Although leaving it until the morning feels like the easier option, something that’s easy is not always what’s best for us. By consciously working on building the habit of preparing the night before you’re giving yourself a head-start on the next day and making it easier for the ‘tomorrow you’ to get going on the right foot.

Important note: Take some time to figure out at what point in the evening/night after you’ve finished work you’re in the most receptive state and best mindset to look toward tomorrow and write down your to-do list. Deciding to attempt it when you’ve been staring at your computer all day working, feeling like your eyes are going square, and are mentally tired is probably not the best time. A suggestion would be to give yourself some downtime to recharge and then put a few designated minutes aside to do it.

Here are five reasons to implement this new habit and the benefits it can bring you.

1.You can use your brain power where it’s needed most:

Numerous articles and research has indicated that our brains are in our most creative state within the first few hours of waking and so this is a great time to dive into any ‘deep work’ that needs to get done. By getting your to-do list sorted the night before your brainpower isn’t shackled in it’s most optimum state into having to do something where it’s not being utilised effectively.

Think of it like a Formula 1 racing car, instead of being able to fly off the starting grid and go into high speed from the green light, the engine has to idly tick along as it sits behind the slow pace-car for the first two laps.

Having that list on your desk or laptop ready to go as soon as you sit down means that you can unleash your brain power into the bigger work without delay.

2. Chance to review priorities before starting:

When we get up we have our morning routine that takes place before beginning our work for the day. During this time we’re predominantly in full auto-pilot mode with our habitual actions — having a shower, washing hair, brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, the commute (which still exists if you WFH, although it consists of only moving from one room to another in the house) — resulting in our brain being freed up for higher thinking. This is one of the main reasons we have some of our best thoughts in the shower! Therefore, it’s an extra window of time to quickly re-cap the list of priorities that you’d written down the previous night and to double check this still stands. If you want to re-jig anything around and remove or add something from your to-do’s you then have that option.

The benefit of this ‘check-in’ is knowing you’re fully prepared and aligned with the priorities and actions you’ve set for yourself to complete, as opposed to trying to decide in the moment of sitting at your desk and potentially forgetting about bits of work that need to get done. An additional problem with the latter is that it can be heavily influenced in how you feel in the moment, which can vary on a sliding scale from ‘I’m in full energetic mode, let’s knock it out the park!’ to the ‘I have no motivation and I want to go back to bed’. This daily variable is never the best setting in which to attempt to make consistent and productive decisions for work output.

3. An opportunity to reflect on your day:

The world feels like it’s spinning faster than ever and we often find ourselves rushing through each day to the next at the same pace. The main problem with this speed is that we frequently forget to slow down and reflect on what has passed us.

By taking time to think forward to tomorrow you allow yourself space and opportunity to also think back over today.

Take note of what you’ve accomplished and the roadblocks or hurdles you’ve come across. Not only does it give you time to think of plans for overcoming any problems but it also gives you the opportunity to acknowledge the positives and wins of the day, no matter how big or small. It’s a chance to take time to appreciate the journey, and not only the destination you’re working towards. This in itself is powerful motivational fuel for your mindset when planning for tomorrow and what you want to do and accomplish.

4. It allows the mind to switch off:

Planning in advance means you can download and offload any underlying thoughts of what needs to get done onto a piece of paper or a screen instead of them floating around in your head. When we extract these thoughts from our mind and put them elsewhere it allows us to get some distance from them. In turn, going to sleep will be a much calmer process as there will be less ‘noise’ battling for space and attempting to keep you awake when you’re trying to wind down and switch off. It’s always handy to have a notebook and pen on your bedside table so that if something pops into your mind that needs to be added to the list you can write it down immediately.

5. Ending the day on a positive habit:

Even if writing your list isn’t the very last thing you do before you get forty winks, it ideally should still take place just prior or during your bedtime routine. By rounding out your day this way you’re cultivating and practising a positive habit of physically writing your plans down and also mentally putting yourself into a forward-moving mindset to take on the next morning. As a result you’re book-ending your day with positive actions and the likelihood of additional positive habits taking place throughout the day are much higher.

*If you would like information on the Business & Life Coaching services that I offer please do go to my Coaching Services page or email me via my Contact page.



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