A lack of preparation can make an already stressful job even tougher. Planning for your work can help, and that means more than practicing a speech for a meeting. It can involve all aspects of your day, from waking up to going to sleep.

Of course, life is unexpected, but setting things up so you can expect the unexpected can work in your favor. Below are some tips on how to be more prepared at work so that you can have the best days possible.

How to be more prepared at work: 9 tips

Some of the tips on this list might surprise you since they don’t directly relate to work. But preparation is just as much about wellness as work performance. After all, if you’re disengaged or tired, are you really prepared for work?

1Do the hardest tasks first

It’s natural to start your day with the easiest tasks first and then move on to harder ones later. But there’s a case for going about it in the opposite direction. Getting your toughest, most time-consuming tasks out of the way before doing anything else can make the rest of your day a piece of cake. That means you’ll be prepared for whatever lies ahead. Plus, knowing you’ve already done your hardest work well before the deadline can lift a heavy weight off your shoulders. 

Reap the benefits of being prepared

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2Consider calendar blocking

There’s only so much time in the day to do all you set out to do. It’s easy for little tasks to get in the way of bigger ones, which can lead to you missing deadlines. A time management technique called calendar blocking can help you better schedule your day to avoid this big problem.

Calendar blocking is the art of assigning certain tasks to specific time slots in your schedule. You’ll typically block your calendar a day ahead of time so you start the next day fully prepared. For example, you can block 10 a.m. to noon for a certain project. Then, you can start answering emails at 12:15 p.m. This approach helps unclutter your normal schedule for a more balanced, less stressful work life.  

3Focus on short-term tasks

If putting long-term tasks at the front of your schedule doesn’t work for you, making short-term work a priority can also work wonders. Doing so means you lead into your day with short, relatively stress-free tasks before finding bigger fish to fry.

You can also break that dreaded large assignment into smaller tasks and work on it piece by piece at the end of your workday. Breaking big things down into more manageable parts can help you finish projects on time while reaching your team’s quality standards. 

4Ask for help when you need it

There’s no shame in asking a team member to lend a helping hand. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to get something over the finish line. And sure, maybe you see asking for help as admitting defeat – but it’s time to toss that idea in the trash. Effective collaboration simply means combining your razor-sharp skills with another person’s perspective to better tackle an obstacle. 

Working alongside other people with different thought processes and experiences can help you reach a final destination that’s better than the sum of its parts. Having a few trusted co-workers just a call or Slack message away is one of the best ways to prepare for potential roadblocks. 

5Master the basics

This tip might be obvious, but it still bears saying: One of the best ways to prepare for your job is being good at it. That often comes down to being able to do your work more efficiently, and a great step in that direction is mastering the basic steps.

For example, if you are in charge of team building, you might need to work on ordering new t-shirts or hoodies with a company logo on them. When it comes to custom printed products, you must make sure you collaborate with brands that offer quality goods. Research available manufacturers or talk to those with experience so you can get recommendations. Once you have the list of potential companies you can work with, you can then create lists of pros and cons of choosing one or another. And such a detailed approach should be present in other aspects of your work. Practicing the little things you do every day until you know them forward and backward can give you a solid foundation for better workdays. 

6Allow time for a social life

A great social life might not seem like it would prepare you for the workplace, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your mental and emotional wellness can affect your work performance, and few things can drain it as much as an “all work, no play” lifestyle. Penciling in some time for friends and family can help take the stress out of your upcoming workdays and keep you away from burnout. 

7Eat healthily

The food you eat can have a significant impact on your mood and how mentally sharp you feel. That’s because the nutrients in what you eat can either power you up or drain you out. 

For example, eating leafy greens, eggs, and legumes to start your day will give you a healthy dose of essential vitamins that can energize you. That energy can last all day, making eating well a great way to be more prepared at work. And sure, stopping by your local fast-food chain is great in a pinch, but the lack of nutrition can cause a serious midday crash.

8Accept that the week will contain change

You’ll never be able to predict just what your job will have in store for you on any given day. While that can be a source of stress, accepting that your job is hectic can help you roll with the punches. And when you’re ready for whatever comes your way, you’re more prepared at work.

9End your week by planning the next week

Preparing for one day is great – now, keep it going for the future. Figuring out what your work might have in store for you next week can help you stay on top of your healthiest habits. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details, you can schedule when you’ll do certain tasks next week too.

Benefits to being prepared at work

It should come as no surprise that there are all kinds of benefits to coming to work prepared and motivated. Below are just a handful. 

1Increased productivity 

Knowing exactly when you’ll do something can increase the amount of work you get done in one workday. That’s because you might often find your attention pulled in multiple directions thanks to a big task list. Preparing a schedule beforehand can help you focus on a single task at hand without getting overwhelmed.

2Increased work performance

Coming to work prepared doesn’t just mean with a schedule in hand. It also means coming with good physical, mental, and emotional health. That’s how you put the most possible effort into the work you do, which means fewer mistakes and errors getting through.

3More motivation 

Being more prepared at work can keep your motivation high since more preparation means less stress. That’s important: Even if you love your work, the tough times can gradually take their toll. Stress-relievers that help you return to work more motivated can keep you prepared for whatever is on your list.

4Decreased work-related anxiety 

There’s much less to feel anxious about when you feel like you know how to do your job. There’s also less stress if you go into every workday prepared. For example, mastering the basics means you’re prepared every day and can do the best possible job. And as you keep doing great work, you’ll feel less anxious – and more prepared to do even better work tomorrow.

Preparing for success

Juggling a bunch of tasks without a plan in place isn’t impossible, but it certainly makes things more difficult. Even if you’ve been doing what you do for a while, work will throw curveballs at you that you just can’t predict. When the unexpected happens, being more prepared at work helps you face it more quickly. 

Meetings, in particular, require a lot of preparation to do well, and Fellow can help you with that. Fellow’s collaborative meeting agendas, real-time feedback tools, and professionally made meeting templates will keep you ready for anything.