We often find ourselves short on time, and still confronted by a multitude of things that we need to do in our work day. I try to put the focus on the first 30 minutes of my day, to use i-time in reflection of the most important things I need to do. Who do I need to meet with? What projects are still waiting to get done? And most importantly: Where are we headed, and what do we need to do to get there?
At the end of the day, I try to take a few moments to look at what I've achieved. Maybe you're like me, and sometimes you look back on your day and realize you spent most of your time reacting to things rather than planning for them. On days like this, I think ahead to the next day, and prepare myself to hit the ground running. In this preparation, I say this to myself:
"Future-me is an idiot."
That's an important realization. If "spinning my wheels" today is an indicator for tomorrow, then future-me needs a lot of help. Present-me can tell you that with certainty; after all, present-me watched past-me spend his first hour responding to email, getting stuck in the weeds, responding to tactical problems rather than planning strategic issues. If future-me is to avoid these mistakes, present-me needs to help him out.
So I often write notes to future-me, and leave them where I can't possibly miss them: under my mouse, on my monitor, on top of my keyboard, on my whiteboard. For example: If future-me needs to write a planning document, then I leave notes for him so he doesn't need to spend his first hour of the day pulling together the information he needs. Or if future-me needs to finalize a budget, I print out some planning numbers so he can get right to work.
Then the most important step: I leave the office. And I try not to think about tomorrow. Aside from leaving myself notes to give future-me a head start in the morning, the best thing I can do is get some distance from the issue, some work/life separation, so future-me can come to the office refreshed and energized.