How do some students make school look so easy? We all know students who are incredibly smart yet run into a wall at every turn. They can’t find anything. They miss deadlines. They’re frustrated, their teachers are frustrated, and their parents are frustrated.

For other students, it’s smooth sailing. What do they know that the first group does not? Over the past few weeks, we’ve unlocked some of the secrets. Those who make it easy write things down and do so in one place. They don’t rely on their memories or random scraps of paper. They look at big projects and start breaking them down into small steps. They have mastered the art of the bookbag. They have learned to deal with papers.

Today, we conclude this series with a simple practice that makes every single morning easier.

Get everything ready the night before

Forgotten items, missed school buses, and frazzled nerves can so often be traced back to one simple problem—assuming Rome can be built between the time the alarm clock rings and the school bus arrives.

Morning is a terrible time to do that last bit of homework, finish that poster, or get those papers signed. Without fail, that book we just knew was on the coffee table is nowhere to be found and it’s already time to pull out of the driveway. Get it all ready the night before and mornings become more peaceful.

Students can make the decision on what they will wear the next day and have it already assembled. They can pack the bookbag before going to bed. They can gather anything else going to school and place it beside the bookbag. In the morning, leaving the house is a simple matter of grabbing the bookbag along with whatever is around it, and heading out the door.

For grownups, tomorrow begins today

When do you plan your day? When you wait until the morning to plan today, today often plans you instead. Before today ends, decide on the top 5 things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Assemble the paperwork you’ll deal with tomorrow and arrange the papers in the order they need to be handled. When you arrive at work, get started on the first item. There’s no decision to be made.

The end of the day is also the time to put things away. Clear the desk. Clear the email inbox. Look at the paperwork left over from earlier in the day and make decisions regarding what needs to be handled and when. Do the same with items still on the to-do list. Circumstances change. The presentation you had to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting is no longer urgent because the meeting was postponed. At the same time, the boss just dropped on you one of those “ASAP” assignments.

Whether you are 6 or 66, life doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. With a few simple practices, we can manage school (and life) the easy way.

Don’t leave without becoming an email list subscriber. I start you off with two free gifts. One gets your desk clean. The other puts everything you have to do in one place. Each week, you’ll hear from me with nuts & bolts tools and strategies to make life easier and more productive. You’re one click away from making it happen