Begin your day the night before

by Michele on August 23, 2012

A good day starts the day beforeOne of the biggest factors in whether or not I have an enjoyable, productive day is how I end the day before. As a solopreneur, your personal life and business life tend to blend together, so some of these ideas relate to non-work things.

Do a little planning

One of my biggest productivity killers is staring at my to-do list and trying to figure out what to work on before I’ve even gotten anything done. I have a hard time getting into gear when I have to wade through dozens of tasks just to figure out what to do before I can even do anything. To combat this, I get my tasks and priorities lined up the night before. It’s the last work item I tackle for the day, so at whatever time I decide to quit for the day I spend 5-10 minutes making sure I can hit the ground running the next day.

Know when to quit

As a solopreneur, you to-do list is massive and never-ending. You’ll never get it all done, so a big part of your time management has to be deciding what doesn’t get done. Part of this is knowing when to stop working for the day. Quite literally, you could be up all night and not get it all done or even feel on top of things, so it’s important to have a set time at which you stop working.  When I work in the evenings I try to make sure I have a set quitting time that gives me time to end my day, relax and get to bed on time.

Park on a downhill slope

This means that you leave your work in a condition that makes restarting easy.  In the time leading up to quitting time, try to find a good place to stop.  If there is no good place to stop, make sure to leave yourself some notes so you can jump back in without figuring out where you were.  You’d be surprised how much you can forget in one day, and spending 30 seconds leaving yourself well-positioned to restart can save many minutes of headaches later.

Have an end-of-day routine

Make a short list of what you need to do at the end of the day to start your next day off right.  Once you’ve wrapped up work, consider what personal chores would make your next morning run smoothly.  I like to set up my coffee the night before, and sometimes I set up a load of laundry so I can start it as soon as I get up.  You might want to pack your lunch, lay out your clothes or pack your bag for an early meeting.  Doing these tasks the day before can help you have less-hassled morning.

Sketch out a schedule

Be sure to peek at your schedule for the next day so you’re not caught unaware of an early obligation.  Create a rough outline of what you’ll be working on during which time windows.  You can always change your mind, but having a plan gives you something to work from.

What else?

What do you do at the end of the day to ensure a strong start to the next day?  Share it in the comments.


  1. Terry League says:

    All such great tips! Especially love the “Park on a Downhill Slope” – I definitely struggle with finding a good stopping point. So much time gets wasted trying to remember where I left off! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Michele says:

      So glad you liked the tips Terry! I too waste a lot of time trying to pick up where I left off if I don’t stop at a good spot.

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