To-do lists and plans are wonderful first steps for achieving your goals and setting yourself up for a productive day. However, life is always in flux. We often forget that, once we’ve defined what we need to accomplish, we must then prepare to execute our plan. This is your reminder to spend time preparing, not just planning—every day.
Prepare Your Mind
Your mind is a wonderful place to start. Having a focused mind will set you on the path to success. Once your mind is ready, you’ll be more easily able to work through the other aspects of your preparation needs. To clear space in your head and leave yourself with room for imagination and innovation, consider a “brain dump” technique. Start by giving yourself either a designated time (such as 10 minutes) or a specific length (such as 3 pages) and write down every thought that comes to you. Write down all of your ideas, big and small, jot down your questions, transcribe everything that’s in your head. This means no filtering, no editing, no worrying that someone’s going to read what you write or check for misspellings.
You’ll be amazed at how freeing it can feel to get all the random thoughts and ideas running through your brain down on paper. This exercise allows you to stop half processing things or fretting that you’re going to forget something. Write it all down. This allows you to have space to think about and better prepare for more important tasks.
Prepare Your Space
Next, think about the area around you. If you have a lot to get done and don’t want to waste time looking at piles of clutter, start by readying your space. This step will ensure that you’re not distracted and that you haven’t forgotten anything that you need. If your plan is to “bake cookies for a client,” for instance, your space preparation is essential. Start by assembling all of the necessary ingredients, ensuring you have enough time to allow for everything to cook and cool, check that you have what you need to transport your creation, etc. Will the client be home when you’re planning to arrive? Do you want to include a card, too? This preparation process often allows you to identify any holes in your plan. As a result, you can identify potential hiccups and address them early on so that they don’t derail your goals.
Preparing your space, first, will drastically increase the likelihood of completing your desired tasks. If your goal is to spend the day returning client emails, you’ll want to ensure that your:
- Computer is charged.
- Office area isn’t cluttered so that you’re not distracted or tempted to spend your time cleaning.
- Internet connection is strong.
- Door is locked (or put up a “Busy” sign) so that no one interrupts you.
- Schedule is clear so that you can focus for a block of time.
- Phone is on mute/vibrate, so you aren’t interrupted.
Finally, ensure you have your necessary tools easily accessible. Is your client’s contact information stored in your computer or readily available? Do you have an email template you want to customize for maximum efficiency? Great! You’re prepared and ready to tackle your to-do list.
Prepare for the Week
Have you ever heard of the “Sunday Scaries”? This is a term referring to the fear and anxiety people experience heading into the work week. Rather than relaxing with family or enjoying quality quiet time by yourself, some people spend time worried about what’s to come. But it doesn’t have to be like this! Ward off the “scaries” by properly preparing for the week ahead. What can you get done now that’ll set you up for success later?
- Are all your appointments on the calendar so that the whole family is in the loop about where you’ll be and when?
- Do you have transportation figured out for your kids’ after-school activities?
- Have you made a menu for the week’s dinners and written out a shopping list (or already gone to the store!) so that you’re prepared to get cooking? Find more meal prep tips here.
- Can you lay out your clothes for tomorrow so the morning is a breeze? (The answer is yes, you can!)
- Have you scheduled in “you” time throughout the week (workouts, walks, a coffee meetup with a friend)?
Now that you’re feeling more prepared in your mind, in your space, and for your week—what else in your life can benefit from some extra preparation? Get in the habit of not just planning for events and activities, but thoughtfully preparing for them, too. This way, you’ll take the reins on your week and be more in control of your schedule, your circumstances, and your life.
Looking for ways to prepare for a successful career while raising a young family? We’ve got you covered. Check out our blog, here.