The best way to set up your day is actually to start the night before. Think of it as setting out your school clothes for the next day... but for your schedule. I've found I have a higher success rate (i.e. I get to check off more boxes on my to-do list) than when I make my plan in the mornings. And who doesn't love that?
My morning lists are really ambitious. Yes, I will get a month's worth of posts written. Yes, I'll ride my bike to that 8AM yoga class. I'll finish the week's freelancing tasks in... an hour? Okay 2 hours. Of course I can do the laundry, clean the house, and run to the post office twice before that conference call. Make a dinner to rival Thanksgiving? No problem. And yes, my inbox will be empty by 5:30.
Okay- that may be a little exaggerated but when I say ambitious, I mean it.
The schedule/plan/list I make in the evening still has a little...sense of urgency, if you will. The difference is, I'm usually not as fresh as I am in the morning, so my filter is different. When I make my schedule in the evening, I don't overwhelm my day and I'm a little more real with what I am capable of doing.
If it isn't obvious, I work best in the morning. That's when I feel the best and I haven't reached decision fatigue. So now you do you! Schedule your heavier projects for the hours you are most alert. Love mornings like I do? That's a great time to sit down and focus on your work, or even schedule meetings. Do you perk up after lunch or when the stars come out? Make that your prime working time. Whenever it is, make sure your schedule reflects what works for you.
Don't forget meals, breaks, and workouts! I know you're busy, but working out gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy; and happy people don't freak out on their clients. The same can be said about eating. Breaks are vital to productivity and I like to use them to switch it up during the day.
Try it out this week. Come back and tell me how it worked for you!