How to plan your dayby Jake Smolarek
Suzy Hazelwood / Pexels
We all appreciate the importance of planning when it comes to significant events. From weddings, parties, work presentations, or even the birth of your child, preparation and planning make a big difference to the result.
So why is it that when it comes to our everyday life, most of us fail to do much planning? I've worked with many people with great ideas, ambition, and big dreams but no actual plans. Sure, we make big plans; set up the business, hire the staff, and find an investor, but rarely do we stop and think; what am I doing tomorrow? Or today? What am I doing now?
Planning your day doesn't require much time or effort, but the results can be dramatic. Read on to find out how you can start planning your days to get you one day closer to your goals.
Find what works for you
The golden rule when it comes to planning is to find a plan that works for you. There is no point in making a plan you know you won't stick to. You need to find a method of planning that works for you.
Some people like hand-writing in a physical diary or planner, and others prefer online tools; both can be helpful, but only if you'll use them. There's no point investing in an online planning tool if you're going to end up sticking post-it notes to your computer screen.
If you use time-blocking, will you stick to it, or do you prefer having a general to-do list for that day? Time blocking can be very helpful, but if you struggle to assign and stick to timeframes, you will find yourself ignoring your plan.
Make a planning habit
Planning one day is better than planning no days, but you should be planning every day. You need to make planning your day a habit. Whether you like to prepare the night before or make your morning plan over the first cup of coffee, try to stick to a routine. It'll make remembering to plan easier.
You should also factor your existing routine into your plan. If you go for a run three times a week, add this to your daily and weekly schedules. If you always shower in the morning, include this in your daily plan. Not only will it give you a sense of achievement when you naturally follow your plan, but you'll also find it easier to make planning your day part of your everyday habits.
It sounds silly, but planning to plan is the first step to having a well-planned day. Find what works for you, and then include a small planning session to ensure that you actually make your plan. Planning should be a routine, and your routine should consist of planning!
Use the Pareto Principle
When planning your day, you need to make sure that you are making time for important tasks. It's easy to make a plan to keep you busy while avoiding essential jobs. This is why you need to prioritise.
The Pareto principle can help you identify which tasks you should prioritise. The Pareto principle states that 20% of your to-do list will bring 80% of the results. When planning your day, you should ensure that you give more time to these high-value tasks.
If you find a task uncomfortable, complex, or tedious, you should try to ensure you tackle it first. This will help ensure that you make real progress and work through important tasks. You should then find the rest of your day easier with the big things out of the way first.
Schedule breaks (and take them)
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When planning, you should also be preparing for productivity. This means you should plan breaks and downtime into your daily plan. When we plan, it's easy to try to pack in important tasks for every second of the day. However, this can be unproductive and result in you falling behind and then losing motivation.
When planning, allow time for a lunch break, short five-minute breaks, and longer gaps to help you think, relax and refocus. You then need to make sure you're actually taking your breaks!
If you struggle with taking breaks, you can use the Pomodoro technique to help organise your day. This time management technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes of intense work followed by a five-minute break. Repeat this cycle four times and then take a more extended 20-minute break. You can track your workflow and ensure that you are taking breaks.
Prepare for error
Even the best-laid plans can go wrong, and it will happen more than you think. The meeting you scheduled overruns, an urgent issue with marketing needs your attention, an investor goes broke, your dog chews through your computer cable … the list of complications is long and getting longer.
You need to make sure your plans are flexible and that you can adjust to new situations. Sometimes, your daily schedule will change, and you'll only complete half of your to-do list. But sometimes, things will try to pull you off course, and you will need to stick to your plan. Can you delegate? How do you politely leave a meeting before it's over? This is where the prioritising mentioned earlier comes into play.
Prepare for things to go wrong and know that sometimes it's okay to make a new plan.
Check your planning
If planning your day does become a daily habit, then after a while, you'll need to check back in. When you make progress, and your goals and daily routine change, your planning process and the plan itself may need to be adapted. Don't get caught in the trap of running on autopilot and forgetting to be intentional.
Take some time, perhaps just once a month, to assess how you plan, where you regularly fail to follow your plan, where your planning could be improved, and how your daily planning makes you feel.
This way, your planning stays fresh and relevant to your life, and you can ensure that you are on track and reaping the benefits of a well-planned day.
Planning your day and ensuring you make the most of your time, energy, and motivation is crucial for consistent success. A well-planned day can help you feel motivated, focused, and prepared to turn productive days into productive weeks, months, and years. Planning is intentional and lets you create real progress.
Get in touch today to get help planning your day and support with motivation, prioritisation, and goal-setting.