The micro morning planning session

GTD considers the daily review to be an important component of effective time management. Here at TimeScapers, we agree strongly with this sentiment, although we prefer to implement this as the micro morning planning session. This is the very first thing that you should do when starting at work, and if done well, helps to ensure a productive and especially effective day.

Planning close-up

You will notice that if you arrive at work and immediately open your email, your day can easily turn into a purely reactive one, where you find yourself spending the most of your time simply trying to work away all the emails in your inbox. If you think about it, this means that you allow other people, the mostly well-intentioned senders of the emails that face you, to determine your daily activities, instead of yourself.

Instead of this, we recommend that you take 10 minutes to plan the activities you will undertake. In the first few minutes, take some time to think about the projects that are really important, and not necessarily urgent, to you. These are the projects that really create value, for example things that will help you advance your career. Write down three to four of these tasks in your daily journal document (you have one of those right?) that will help you to advance the important projects.

Next, open up your todo list and add the tasks to your list that are urgent, i.e. those things that really need attention today, for example due to imminent deadlines. These tasks should of course be completed on time, but do note that there is often a difference between important and urgent. The former generally creates more value, the latter is mostly damage control.

Finally, and you might even postpone this until after a few hours, open your email and check for any really urgent matters. These can be added to your list of tasks for the day. We recommend that you postpone your real email processing (that is where you turn emails into tasks that can be inserted into your todo system) until about mid-day. The morning check is purely for emergencies.

Following this procedure, you will start your day working on a well-balanced list of tasks that will ensure that you not only take care of urgent matters, but that you also work an advancing the far more important big picture. This is an important step in applying your long-term vision to your work day.

Let us know what you think in the comments!