Last week I wrote about my new habit of eating frogs for breakfast every morning (most mornings at least). Even though I have changed my morning routine (I wake up at 4:30 AM most mornings now) and get to a place where I can get my day started by 5:00 AM, I can still struggle to get the ball rolling.

Procrastination is a powerful thing and if I give it any space at all, it will devour my entire morning. Recently I’ve started a new practice that has made my morning routine even more effective. I’ve heard this practice for many years from a  variety of sources and coaches, but it never connected. Then I read this post from Shawn Blanc called “the note.”

In this post, Shawn describes his practice of writing himself a note at the end of every day. The not is very simple, maybe just 4 or 5 words. The note is simply what Shawn needs to work on first thing the next day. When Shawn sits down at his computer the next morning, the note is the first thing he sees and allows him to start his morning with highly focused, quadrant two work.

Shawn describes two things that happen with this little practice.

  • First of all, the first task of the day gets a 12 hour head start. Even though you’re off, it’s likely that your mind and thoughts will connect with this first task before falling asleep or when getting ready the next morning. There’s enough time that even subconsciously, the brain has plenty of time to start moving forward on the task.
  • Secondly, you don’t have to waste any time at all thinking about what you need to do first. You don’t spend twenty minutes starting at the screen waiting for inspiration to strike. In your most available and most productive time, you immediately get to work.

I’m not writing myself a note like Shawn describes, but I have another system similar to this. When I sit down to work first thing in the morning, I look at the sentence or two I drafted just before closing my computer the night before and then I know what I need to spend the next hour or two doing.

I find that at the end of the day, you have a much better grasp of what needs to get done the following day. Since you’re right in the middle of your work, it’s easy to see what is most important. Don’t delegate the task of figuring out what needs to happen tomorrow until tomorrow when you’re getting a cold start. It will take 2-3 minutes to write down that sentence or two and you’ll be so grateful for the head start tomorrow morning.