I’ve been reading a lot of business books lately. Management books, biographies of entrepreneurs, time management books, etc. Time management and organization books are the most boring of the bunch, and they’re almost never terribly useful. Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life is a noticeable exception.

Authors Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, and Matthew Rudy come primarily from a sports background. Their research led them to realize elite athletes and successful business people have quite a lot in common. Both do not try to do everything all the time. Trying to do everything leads to doing nothing. Instead, athletes and business people alike are most successful when they focus on a few (i.e., the most important) items to accomplish each day.

To maximize productivity and success, the authors provide eight concrete concepts:

  1. Organize tomorrow today
  2. Choose wisely
  3. Maximize your time
  4. Win your fight-thrus
  5. Evaluate correctly
  6. Learn how to talk to yourself
  7. Learn how to talk to others
  8. Be abnormal

They also highly suggest you focus on one concept and master it for at least three months before moving on to mastering the next concept. There is real wisdom in this because if you try everything at the same time, it will lead to you doing nothing in short order. Instead, master, layer, repeat.

The most interesting of the eight concepts (at least to me) is “organize tomorrow today.” This is where we learn how to focus on the most important daily activities in order to maximize success. Instead of a laundry list of items to work on (usually from most menial to most meaningful), pick the three most important tasks to be completed. From that list, pick the “one must,” i.e., the most important activity, that will be accomplished before any other. By organizing your work flow in this way, you will always accomplish the most difficult and meaningful tasks before distractions set in and willpower wanes. Remember, excellence is not found in accomplishing the most items; it is found in accomplishing the most important items.

Timing is important here. As the name “organizing tomorrow today” suggests, you need to sit down and determine tomorrow’s three most important tasks and your “one must” today. The organization process usually takes about five minutes. And don’t wait until 4.55 p.m. That doesn’t work. Do your planning earlier in the day.

The other seven concepts are also quite good. They really are designed as practical tools; not the pie-in-the-sky garbage in so many time management or motivational books.

Following the authors’ advice, I have chosen to master “organize tomorrow today” before moving on to any of the other concepts. Thus far, it has helped me focus on some usually ignored, but very important, aspects of my cases and business. Having a simple game plan every day before I ever step foot in the office has really helped increase meaningful productivity, and it has fostered communication with my team and colleagues.

Organize Tomorrow Today is the best, most practical time management or organization book I have ever encountered. I highly recommend it to any professional who wishes to take control of their business.

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