The very first thing to do is to start. Start right now exactly where your feet are planted. Just Start.
Maybe you’re new to planning. You’re not seeing many benefits of planning yet. The experience, knowledge, evidence, and emotional connection will come with persistence and consistency. It takes time. This is not an overnight transformation. Each day brings new insight and progress. Keep moving forward.
Let’s first talk about the benefits of daily planning, specifically.
- Decrease overwhelmed by taking one day at a time
- Knowing exactly what you need to do and how much time you have to do it
- Doing things on purpose rather than just surviving
Just because you plan doesn’t mean that unexpected things won’t happen. That’s life. However, by planning, you are able to make better decisions when you’re faced with a challenge.
The majority, if not all, of the concepts discussed here, are able to be applied to multiple areas of your life. For instance, short-term and long-term goals as well as your vision of the future.
In simplest terms, a planner is an inventory of your known future commitments and your unfinished tasks.
The cornerstone of daily planning is to be proactive, as opposed to reactive.
You are in control of your time.
Initially, some of you will disagree with that statement. Allow me to explain my mindset for believing that you are in control of the entire 24 hours of your day. It is your decision to have a 10-hour block of time assigned to your daily job. You are making the decision every single day to get up and go to work. You make this decision because, like everyone else, you need money to live.
Another quick example is cleaning your kitchen. You are making the decision to clean your kitchen because you don’t want bugs in your house, you need clean dishes to put your food on, and you enjoy the feeling and the environment when your kitchen is clean.
Don’t Let Others Hijack Your Time.
1. By reacting to someone’s crisis, you are allowing them to hijack your time. The other person who is bringing a crisis to you did plan their day. Most of the time, it’s their lack of planning that they are attempting to throw at you.
2. Distractions are mostly caused by yourself. In other words, you allowed yourself to become distracted. Set time limits for any tasks that are distracting to you. The biggest distraction is social media.
3. Interruptions affect your completion of tasks. In order for you to accomplish your tasks, you need to concentrate. Multiple short interruptions quickly add up during the day. Interruptions are another form of distraction.
This is not about being unkind. This is about you setting boundaries. Those boundaries allow you to achieve your goals.
The question then becomes “Do you want to be intentional with your time?”
Daily Planning Tips
The purpose of daily planning is to have a plan for the day, right?
So you need to spend some time thinking about what you want for the day.
There are several things to consider when planning your day.
- When you make the decision to do a task you are also making the decision not to do another task.
- Energy Levels. Higher performance occurs at higher energy levels. The majority of people feel most energetic and alert in the middle to late morning and again in the middle to late afternoon. Try to work out your own daily cycle and schedule your tasks accordingly. Finding the balance between the areas of your life will take time. There are several variations of coding methods that you can implement in order to examine where you’re spending your time.
- Page Layout. The most effective way to organize your task list is under relevant headings. These headings are based on the type of task, not life categories or roles.
Examples of relevant headings:
- to clean
- to call
- to email
- to order
- to go
The purpose here is to group like tasks together to maximize efficiency. In other words, you are able to get all the cleaning finished at once, etc.
3 Simple Questions
There are no right or wrong answers.
1. What do you want?
A short-term goal. A long-term goal. A project. A clean kitchen.
2. Why do you want it?
What’s the purpose? If you struggle with motivation and procrastinating, it would be beneficial to write these statement down. The more reasons you have, the better.
Do you want it bad enough?
3. How are you going to get it?
This is your action plan. These tasks need to be specific. Goals have multiple parts within them. Brainstorm ideas to make sure that you’ve included all aspects of accomplishing your main goal.
Are you committed?
It’s time to execute your plan!
How To Schedule Your Day: 3 Task Details
1.A Priority Level.
Your tasks all have a priority. Essentially, you are assigning the order that you will do your tasks. Once you have your list, where do you start? What should you tackle first? You have complete control in choosing what order to do things.
Determine how long each task will take you or how long you’re going to spend on each task. You will be able to see your time more clearly to allow for effective scheduling. The estimated time process is similar to a budget that is used for determining how your money will be spent. You are spending your time, rather than money.
3.A due date.
Whether the due date is assigned by your boss or you assign it to yourself to accomplish your tasks in a timely manner.
Throughout the Day
Review your daily page often.
Mark tasks complete.
Make notes about tasks.
Remember, your planner is your brain book. There is no need to try and remember everything. Instead, write it down.
End of the Day
There will be days when you aren’t able to accomplish all the tasks that you had intended. A useful rule with to do lists is not to carry forward items that haven’t been started more than two to three times. There is a reason why the particular item hasn’t been started. Ask yourself if this item is still relevant? Or are you simply procrastinating? Either way, the task needs to be completed or discarded.
Are there any tasks that require follow up?
Are there any tasks that need rescheduling?
End of Day Review
To move forward, you should set aside time at the end of the day to reflect on what happened, what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can improve for tomorrow.
This reflection allows you to continue making progress toward your goals.
Let go of today. Do your best to release any personal guilt that may be attempting to harvest in your mind.
Preplan for Tomorrow
Future topics: projects, notes, ideas,
As you continue planning and using your planner throughout the day, you will become more familiar with yourself. Then, you will be able to adjust and refine your processes to maximize your productivity.
Review your commitments and responsibilities for the following 4 weeks. What actions need to be taken to prepare for those items?
Summary: how to make a daily schedule for yourself
Write out the information for the items below.
Commitments & Responsibilities
3 Simple Questions = Your Goal(s)
- What do you want?
- Why do you want it?
- How are you going to get it?
3 Task Details
- A priority level.
- Estimated time.
- A due date.
There are many terms discussed in this article. The challenge will be to apply these terms to your daily planning session. The definitions given below are my own. I did my best to keep them in the simplest form.
- Life Balance. Spreading your time, energy, and effort over each area of your life.
- Benefits. Positive and negative effects of doing something.
- Personal Boundaries. Rules that you live by.
- Brainstorm. Considering all of your options. Thinking of ways to achieve your desired results.
- Commitments. Things that you agreed to do. Promises.
- Consistent. Doing the same thing over a long period of time. Practice.
- Distractions. Typically caused by yourself.
- Due date. A specific date that a result needs to be accomplished by. It can be determined by yourself or given by someone else.
- Effective. Ability to accomplish your desired results.
- Efficient. Taking action by following the best processes to achieve desired results.
- Energy level. The amount of physical and or mental energy needed to complete the task.
- Estimated time. An estimation of the amount of time needed to accomplish the task.
- Evaluate. Comparable to a pros and cons list.
- Execute. Taking action. Getting things done.
- Follow up. More action is needed.
- Goals. What do you want?
- Guilt. Emotionally struggling due to something in the past.
- Intentional. Doing things on purpose.
- Interruptions. Typically caused by something else or someone else.
- Motivate. The inner desire to act.
- Process. The steps necessary to accomplish your desired results.
- Productive. Accomplishing the actions needed for your desired results
- Purpose. Why you are doing something. Why statement.
- Realistic. Able to happen what in reality.
- Reflect. Thinking about something in the past. Noting successes and actions to take for the future.
- Rescheduling. Changing the assigned time for something.
- Result. What you want to happen after completing a task.
- Review. Analyzing something in the past. Typically to know what worked and what didn’t. Taking a moment to consider ways to improve for the future.
- Routines. A set of tasks are completed to accomplish the same results. Repetitive.
- Scheduling. Assigning something to a specific time.
- Tasks. Things to do.
- Time blocking. Setting aside a specific period of time for a specific task or set of tasks.
- Time management. This should be called self-management in relation to time. You are not managing time; you are managing yourself.
- To do list. A list of tasks.