PP10: “Briefcase” principle – Avoiding the last-minute rush

(Part of the series: 12 Favorite Productivity Principles)

10. “Briefcase” principle – Avoiding the last-minute rush

This is another great principle I learned from Mark Forster’s book, Get Everything Done. Mark shares how he was always packing his briefcase at the last minute and rushing out the door. So, he learned to pack the briefcase earlier. That way, when it was time to leave, he could just pick up the briefcase and go.

This principle is simple: doing things ahead of time will make your life simpler and less stressful. It’s a simple principle but with thousands of applications. Here are just a couple of the ways I use it.

  1. I don’t wait until I’m ready to go to work before eating breakfast and getting dressed for work. I eat breakfast and get dressed earlier so that I am not rushing at the last minute.
  2. I don’t wait until I’m ready to go to bed to wash up and get ready for bed. I do it earlier in the evening. That way when I’m ready to go to bed, I can just go to bed. This also helps me get to sleep on time (see principle #8).
  3. I don’t wait until Wednesday morning to prepare my teaching for Wednesday night. I start preparing Monday or Tuesday. It takes the same amount of time but is far less stressful and a more pleasant experience.

A funny thing about the briefcase principle. When you attempt to do something ahead of time, you will experience resistance. Not a super strong resistance, usually just the dismissive thought: “I don’t need to do this right now.” But remember, resistance is a sign that this really is the best time to do it (see principle #7). Don’t let resistance work against you. Work with the resistance and do the task anyways.

Doing things ahead of time doesn’t take any more time than doing things at the last minute, but it’s far less stressful. See how many ways you can put the briefcase principle to work in your life.

Next in series: PP11: “Default” principle – Choosing enjoyment over easy

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