Most of the time, we find ourselves procrastinating because of the amount of work we have to do before we can actually start the task in hand. Have you ever got to your office in the morning to find your desk - well, how you left it? Papers unfilled, coffee cup still there, unwashed. Emails sitting in your inbox from the day before?
In order to find those important papers you need, you are going to have to sort through those papers. Want a fresh brew? Well, you are going to have to go down to the kitchen and wash the cup up, probably needing to scrub the bottom harder now because of the residue left behind. Those emails from yesterday afternoon that you just couldn't summon the energy to deal with are now sitting there, flashing their yellow warning light at you before you can even entertain looking at the email messages that have come in today.
Well - I believe in the process of ensuring you are ready for the day ahead. If you make it hard for yourself to get started, you make it easier to procrastinate. Set yourself up for success.
Back in the day, I was a Restaurant Manager for a reasonably well known global fast food chain. (I won't say who it was - needless to say, I was loving it). Every evening, once the doors were closed, we spent a good couple of hours cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. We would set up 300-500 Happy Meal Boxes with toys ready for the following day. Stock would come down from the stockroom to ensure we wouldn't have to be bringing it down during busy periods the following day. The grill would be cleaned to the absolute best standard possible, in order to make sure the food cooked the next day reached temperature and the grill would last longer.
Can you see the relevance of preparation there? If those Happy Meal Boxes aren't made up, an extra 10-15 seconds was spent serving a customer. This 10-15 seconds could have been better spent by serving another customer and thus taking more money. If the stock didn't come down, we could run out of a critical product at lunch-time, which of course could result in a loss of revenue.
So what can you do to help yourself reach this state of preparation in your day-to-day life. Here are some tips I'd like you to consider taking on board:
- Get enough sleep - you need to be fully refreshed for the following day
- Prepare your clothes for tomorrow the night before - your energy levels in the morning are at their highest - don't waste this energy performing a low energy task
- Clear your desk - whenever you finish a task or finish for the day, clear your desk.
- Empty your Inbox - Inbox zero is a brilliant way to live. Ensure that Next Actions are defined for those emails that need to be dealt with. Delegation has taken place for those that require it and the remainder are in either the Trash or in a Reference folder.
- Close Relationship loops - is there an issue with someone that you find yourself working with on a daily basis? Sort it out now so that you help eliminate the friction when you find yourself working together next.
- Wash Your Dishes when you finish eating - who likes looking at a sink full of washing up when there are other tasks to complete? It doesn't take long - the longer it is sitting there dirty, the dirtier and more unhygienic it is actually becoming.