The 5-Minute Habit that Will Make Every Day More Productive

Add this to your nighttime routine and watch your daytimes become totally transformed.

What do you do before you go to bed? Brush your teeth, wash your face, drink some tea, read a book? What if we told you that you could add one habit to your nighttime routine and double (or triple) your next day’s productivity?

No, we’re not talking about prepping your meals or laying out your workout clothes (though those are great ideas). And we’re not talking about adding three hours of work to your evening—we’re firm believers that everyone needs some “me” time to relax and unwind at the end of the day. We’re talking about a five-minute routine that anyone can do anywhere. It’s not fancy, it’s not glamorous, and it’s not complicated…but it works.

Ready? Here it is:

Prioritize your top 3 tasks for the next day.

Yep, that’s it. Well, okay, we’ll explain a little more...

Every morning when you wake up, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of consciousness before your brain is bombarded with information, distractions, choices, and tasks. Facing down the jumbled to-do list of the world, powered by a cup of coffee (or four), you eventually decide what to tackle first—responding to your emails, say.

But your mind isn’t fully in it and you keep getting distracted; there was all that other stuff to do—should you be doing something else first? Oh now the phone is ringing and by the time you hang up you’ve remembered three other tasks, and get started on one of them only to catch a glimpse of a new email that demands a response. You get the picture.

No matter the specifics of what’s pulling you in a million directions, chances are that at the end of most days you feel like you’ve been going a mile a minute since you got out of bed, and aren’t even sure if you’ve made a dent in your to-do list. Was today a success? You don’t know.

Luckily, with one simple habit you can stop this cycle of always working and never accomplishing. Once you get in the routine of doing it every night, you’ll be amazed at how much more focused you feel every day, and how confidently you declare the day a success every night.

So don’t wait, start this simple habit tonight. It’s fairly self-explanatory, and you can figure out how to prioritize your tasks in whichever way works best for you, but here's the approach that works best for me. Use it as a loose guideline if you find it helpful! 

How to Prioritize Tomorrow

1. One to two hours before you plan to go to bed, sit down and think about what your day looks like tomorrow. If it’s helpful, pull up your calendar or your email and refresh your memory on any appointments, meetings, or outstanding tasks. These may be related to work, home, or social or family obligations. Make a note of these.

2. Then, think about your health and wellness tasks—is it important to you to get in a workout tomorrow? Do you need to go to the grocery store and stock up on healthy foods? Were you planning on doing research on a new gym or yoga studio? Make a note of the next day’s most important wellness task (if any).

3. Lastly, think about self-care. This won’t always be one of the day’s top three tasks, but every once in a while you need to prioritize taking some time for yourself. Is tomorrow one of those days?

4. Write down all of the tasks you’ve thought of for the next day, then circle the three that are the highest priority. To help you identify these, ask yourself “If I were only to accomplish three things tomorrow, which of these tasks would leave me feeling the most fulfilled and move me closest to my long-term goals?”

5. This next part is optional, but I personally like to add in. Below my three main tasks, I write down two “Bonus” tasks—things that I’d really like to get to tomorrow, but only after I accomplish the first three. If you put a fun or rewarding task here, these “bonuses” can even serve as an extra productivity incentive!

6. Then, put away your (mental or written-down) task list and don’t think about it for the rest of the night. Relax and enjoy your down time. In the morning, start with task #1 and simply work your way down the list.

7. Be amazed at how much you get done!

Give this technique a try and let us know how it works for you! Does it supercharge your productivity like it does for me, or do you have a different hack to keep you focused and on track each day? Let us know in the comments!

Make it WayBetter

What’s the best format for your to-do list? In your head, in an app, on a big whiteboard? However you choose to remember your tasks, make sure it feels satisfying and rewarding so you look forward to creating your list and crossing things off it!