Productivity Tip: The Mini-Prep

A long time ago I learned the value of prepping ahead. Lately, I’ve started wondering how much prep is really necessary to make a difference.

Some evenings I’m too tired to do anything that would help me get a jump start on the next day. On nights like this I always promise myself I’ll go to bed early. This never happens. In the same breath I promise myself that I’ll wake up at least 15 minutes earlier than usual to catch up. This also almost never happens. If it does, it’s accompanied by a lot of snooze-button pushing. As a compromise, I developed the mini-prep, small things that are manageable on these tired nights.

To develop the mini-prep, I analyzed my morning routine. While no one task took me a long time, each one comprised lots of little steps. For example, I use an old-school stovetop percolator for my morning coffee. This requires me to:

  • fill the base with water
  • put the filter on top
  • remove coffee from the cupboard
  • fill the filter with coffee
  • screw the pot on top
  • place pot on stove
  • turn on the heat

Then I remove a mug from the cupboard over the stove, move across the kitchen to get milk from the fridge and prep my mug. All in all, not a big deal. Minus the time it takes the coffee to percolate, the whole process probably takes less than 2 minutes. But it’s a lot of small steps.

I don’t prep my moka pot the night before because that can cause it to rust. However, for the mini-prep I do a couple really tiny things to save me a few steps. The two tiny things are removing the coffee grounds from the cupboard and placing them next to the percolator. I keep a measuring spoon in the grounds so that helps. Then I place the mug next to the stove so it’s ready. Not overly ambitious, but manageable when I’m tired.

I’m also a huge oatmeal fan. Another mini-prep is to place the pot I’ll use with pre-measured water on the stove before bed. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I might pre-measure the oats and leave them in a bowl next to the pot.

These are all small steps that would hardly qualify as “prepping,” but I find they add up and make the morning experience just a little bit smoother.

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