Do the first thing last

I don’t know if I’ve ever been “cool,” but I know for a fact that any chance I had is in the rearview mirror.

How can I be so sure? Well, one of my favorite things is to have the laundry done before I go to bed on Friday.


But here’s where that decidedly uncool pastime can help you and your business.

In an effort to ensure I had every opportunity to get the laundry done by “lights out” on Friday, I started loading the washing machine before I left the house on Friday morning.

I wasn’t keen on running the machine when no one was home, but I wanted it to be fully ready to go as soon as I arrived home in the afternoon.

I knew that when I returned home I’d be greeted by a dozen distractions. The dog would want my attention, I’d have my hands full of things I’d collected throughout my day, I would want to change my clothes, the Yankee game would need to get thrown on the TV, and I’d probably need to go to the bathroom. 

In light of these distractions, I wanted to front load (laundry humor!) the activity that was my biggest priority.

Instead of coming home and having to decide in what order I would do all of the above, including grabbing the laundry hamper and tossing a load in the machine, I just needed to press START on the washer and move on to any of the other things vying for my attention.

I call it doing the first thing last.

When you are ending a work session, or ending your day, just consider where you will want to start when you return and take the first step.

That could mean putting the appropriate tools in place for your next phase of work, opening your notebook to the notes you will need to start your work tomorrow, or removing distractions that may make it more difficult to focus on the next thing.

In the same way that one relay runner is trying to pass the baton to the next in the most seamless fashion possible, making the ending of one task the beginning of another sets you up for smoother transitions and less wasted effort.