If you are similar to me, you probably start your day checking your voicemail and email and then responding to those in order of importance. This can take 10 minutes or an hour, but it is a ritual. Ron Friedman, Ph.D., the founder of ignite80 has a different approach to ritual that he writes about in the June Harvard Business Review.
Trained chefs have a preparation practice known as mis-en-place or everything in its place. Cooking requires timely acquisition of ingredients for the recipe, the tools and equipment required to prepare it, the assembly of the dish, and finally the cooking. It is the kitchen version of planning and executing an action plan.
Friedman argues that the initial process of email and voicemail is too reactive for a beginning step and does not rise to the level of planning. Those highly motivated to “check the box” and derive early sense of accomplishment in the day by responding to emails or voicemails should pay special heed, since all activity or accomplishment is equal. That said, it might be hard to plan effectively if you don’t check email and voicemail for information that may affect planning. I draw a big distinction between reviewing email and voicemail and responding to it.
I typically start my planning for the next day in the late afternoon or early evening of the prior day and use a free but effective productivity tool from Simpleology. I fully agree that more detailed and specific the planning the better and more efficient results you achieve.