By planning your day for success, you will feel more relaxed and confident. Even if life gets in the way, you will not lose track of your priorities. Here’s how you can do it.
After the success of my blog Five Reasons to Plan Ahead, I decided to put together some tips that will help you get started planning your day too.
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And the best part is that it’s as simple as taking 6 super easy steps!
I’ll be mentioning work and home related activities because they should be treated the same way.
It’s your time we’re talking about, so there should be no difference whether you’re wasting it in your professional or private environment.
1. Write everything down
The first step is making note of everything you need to do.
Even those small tasks that do not seem to be that important must be written down.
Having your appointments, to-dos and shopping lists on paper (or saved electronically) will save you a lot of stress.
Try to stick to one or two systems, though.
If you keep your notes spread, you may not find them when needed.
Going electronic is the best option in my opinion. However, I also keep a weekly overview on paper just in case I run out of battery on my smartphone or have no Internet connection.
2. Check your calendar the day before
Whether it’s your private or professional agenda, checking it one day in advance will allow you get prepared for what’s coming.
You may need to set your alarm clock earlier because of an appointment earlier in the morning. Or you may need to contact a babysitter to stay with the kids after school due to a last-minute meeting at the office.
By adding this simple step to your routine, you’ll be more prepared. Also when things don’t go exactly as planned.
What might seem first as an extra task, can help you increase your productivity later.
Since you started writing everything down when planning your day, you’ll have a clear picture of what’s ahead every time to check your calendar.
3. Book similar tasks together
Instead of jumping from emails to calls and back to emails, arrange your time in a way you do all calls together, for instance.
The same goes for:
- social media activity
If you plan your meals in advance, you can do the groceries in bulk. It’ll not only save you time but money as well.
If you dedicate a certain amount of time on one activity, you’ll also focus better on it.
What used to take you hours, can take you half an hour or so.
And remember that you should avoid multitasking at all cost too!
4. Plan postponed tasks according to their priority
If you aren’t able to complete a certain task today, don’t simply transfer it for tomorrow. Remember to be realistic with your schedule.
If your agenda is already packed for the following day, it makes no sense to add even more stuff there.
Still, if something urgent came up, for example, a sick kid or colleague, be flexible and make possible adjustments according to your priorities.
If it’s not the case, postpone activity to when you have time to do it.
Just keep in mind that you have to inform anyone who could be affected by the planning change.
5. Revise your performance
Learn from your experience.
After one week, evaluate the method you used:
- Was your planning efficient?
- Do you feel accomplished?
- Were there any slip-ups?
Ask feedback from your partner and colleagues.
It’s not a matter of passing or failing in your planning efforts.
Yet, you can only say that your progress is what you were expecting if you take the time to assess it.
Planning your day isn’t something you’re doing for the sake of keeping yourself busy. You want results!
You can only be sure that your approach is the most appropriate one for your lifestyle if you take the time to revise it.
6. Make adjustments when necessary
After your evaluation, it’s time to ask yourself what you could have done better.
Analyze your performance and adapt it for the next week.
Do this exercise until you feel 100% comfortable with the routine created:
- Is decorating your planner taking too much of your time?
- Is your color coding clear enough?
- Are you overlooking tasks and not writing them down regularly?
- Are you underestimating the time spent with certain to-dos?
Reflect on what you have accomplished so far and don’t be afraid to change the things that aren’t working so well.
Note, however, that your needs will vary throughout the year.
In the summer you may want to take more family time to enjoy the good weather and during exams period, you may need to spend time helping your kids.
While your priorities might shift, build a system that covers your most common responsibilities and that allows you room for what may come.
Putting it all together
It is not just about doing everything that you have planned. Sincerely, it’d be wishing for a perfect world. What it is really about is how you feel about your commitments and accomplishments.
How satisfied you are with the progress of things is what will make your planning a success!
- Write everything down
- Check your calendar the day before
- Book similar tasks together
- Plan postponed tasks according to their priority
- Revise your performance
- Make adjustments when necessary
The way you’re going to implement the steps above is very personal.
For example, choosing between electronic tools or a good-and-old paper planner has nothing to do with the quality you’ll be planning your day. It’s just a matter of preference.
What is really important is that you do it mindfully.
Eliminate guess from your schedule will help you become more productive one day at a time without causing you any unnecessary stress.
Make sure you download my Daily Planning Checklist and get started today!
Also published on Medium.