Plan Today to be Productive Tomorrow

Plan Today

“If we don’t start, it’s certain we can’t arrive” –Zig Ziglar

How often do you ask yourself at the end of the day, “Where has the time gone?”  You realize the day is over and you didn’t carry out what you had planned to get done. Did the “procrastination shadow” follow you all day? Ever feel like you’re the foremost expert on the subject of putting off until tomorrow what you should do today?

Granted, some people are better at getting things done more than others. For those of us that are easily distracted, perhaps the simplest thing we need to do, and probably the most challenging too, is to learn to manage our time better. One of our biggest challenges when it comes to capitalizing on time is that we don’t really know how we spend it.

The best thing I’ve done for myself is to plan today to be productive tomorrow, otherwise I lose track of the time and do very little.

One way that I plan today to be productive tomorrow is to make a check list of things to do. A check list is a simple tool that helps me focus on tasks and it’s also a record of how I’ve spent my time. The items on the list are not jotted down in order of importance. If I think of something I need to do, I add it the bottom of the list.  After completing tasks, I check it off the list. At the end of the day, I look over the list and feel a sense of accomplishment.

However, what really bugs me is that several tasks stay on the list day after day. Those tasks are the ones that I dread starting; the ones that take more mental energy to begin. It’s the fault of the “procrastination shadow” following me all day. The only way I will lose that shadow is do the worst task, or the one I dread the most on my list, first thing.

To help with that, I give myself a dose-of-motivation–the night before–so that when tomorrow arrives, I’m more inclined not to procrastinate. An example of a dose-of-motivation is a short phrase and easy to remember, like this quote from Zig Ziglar:

If we don’t start, it’s certain we can’t arrive.

Here are four things I do today to be productive tomorrow:

1. Nurture my spiritual life:

Bend the knee and read the greatest history book ever written. Establish a daily rhythm of starting the day off in prayer and bible reading. In other words, I prioritize the daily time I spend devoting my attention exclusively to the glory of Christ and receiving the satisfaction he gives. I love Matthew 6:33 where Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.” It’s true, I am more productive when I keep God first and by doing so, I become a better steward of time, especially with taking care of those things that I procrastinate.

2. Take care of my physical needs:

Exercise and don’t skip eating breakfast. This is something that is a non-negotiable. If I’m unable to run or walk outdoors, there is nothing stopping me from finding a motivating workout routine on the internet. I have to wake up earlier to exercise or else I will miss the window of opportunity.  Breakfast has become a favorite meal of the day. Often the night before, I will make a “yogurt-to-go” cup. Layering yogurt, nuts and fresh berries in throw-away cup. I grab it and go! It’s so easy to miss breakfast in the morning, especially with rushing out the door to take children to school and to make it to work on time, but you’ll soon feel the pangs of skipping that meal once the morning rush of adrenaline comes to a halt.

3. Create a to-do-list

If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. There are several time management apps that are useful for managing a to-do-list. A paper and pencil work too! I like setting time limits to work on a task…set a timer on my iPhone to buzz after 30 minutes. This helps me to stay focused on finishing the task. Setting a timer reminds me about making chores a fun competition with my children. We can race each other to see who will beat the clock.

 4. Guard my family time

At the end of the day, the one thing that matters most are the people in my family. The work day is over and now it is time to lean into my family, forgetting everything left in the office and those many details still left undone on that to-do-list.

If I manage myself well throughout the day, I will be a better leader for my family at the end of the day. And when the evening has become still and quiet and my family has settled down for the night, I reflect on the events of the day and consider how it will impact tomorrow.

“Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.  Make motivation a habit and you will get there more quickly and have more fun on the trip.” -Zig Ziglar

You may find the following posts helpful:

How to Break Bad Habits

The Joy of Running

Four Ways to Make Your Personal Worship Habit Forming

In Pursuit of a Gospel-Centered Community

For an added dose of motivation:

6 Unintended Casualties of Mismanaging Your Time

Trick Your Lazy Brain Into Being More Productive

How to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Day

Zig Ziglar Quotes

Confessions of an Evernote Junkie

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I confess, I’m an Evernote junkie!  The more I learn how to use this productivity tool, the more I like it.  Here are a few reasons why:

Evernote is like a digital file drawer where I can store anything and find it almost instantly. I’m a creative thinker and a collector of information. With the “Evernote Web Clipper” I  can clip an article and  save it to a designated notebook (folder) and also tag the article into a category. For example, I often read web articles and a variety of blogs on the topic of  leadership. With the web clipper, I am able to save the entire article or a section of the post to my leadership notebook and use a tag that best describes the content of the article, such as team.

My family has the kitchen table back.  I am an “unorganized perfectionist” meaning I keep everything in order except the top of my desk and the kitchen table. There is a paper trail of meeting notes or copies of articles out of magazines and added to that are splashes of color from neon colored post-it notes. To help clear this paper trail,  I’m now scanning documents and saving as a PDF to Evernote. And for all of those ideas I’ve written on post-it-notes,  I grouped the notes in the shape of a square, I took a photo of the notes, dragged it from my desktop into Evernote and saved it to bright ideas. I’m amazed by the search function that even picks up words within pictures!

Important emails can be easily retrieved.  With the unique Evernote email address, I am able to forward important emails to my Evernote  account by adding the name of the notebook I want the email saved in and including a tag to the subject line of the email. To specify the destination notebook, append the subject line with the symbol “@” followed by the name of an existing notebook; to add a tag, include “#” followed by an existing tag.  This has been great to use, especially for saving flight reservations, hotel bookings, or receipts.

Keeping up with notes and reminders has never been easier. I am a note taker. I always write notes in meetings, or when I attend a conference plus I’m constantly writing reminders for myself.  I have always used the note pad on my iPhone or iPad. What has been frustrating is that I am unable to access the notes from my Mac.  There are times when I don’t have my iPad handy or it takes too long to find the notes on my iPhone. I now use the Evernote app for note taking and because Evernote syncs remotely in the “cloud,” I can access the same notes anywhere, regardless of the device I am using.

Having quick access to highlights and notes from books on Kindle. I recently discovered through my Amazon Kindle account that I can access all of the highlights and notes I’ve made while reading. I select the book, search for the highlighted notes, use the Evernote web clipper and save to the booknotes notebook with the name of the author as the tag.

I realize there is much more to learn about Evernote and I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of this amazing tool that will help me stay organized and more productive. What do you think? What have you discovered that helps you stay organized or more productive?

Helpful link:

Michael Hyatt (Intentional Leadership) provides a handy index to all of his Evernote posts.