How can you plan your day effectively? How to successfully plan a day to be productive and effective escapes a lot of people. Are you one of them?
~ know how to plan your day?
~ plan your day in advance?
~ make a to do list?
~ block your calendar with important & urgent tasks?
~ never put off important & urgent tasks?
~ rarely run out of time to finish your planned tasks?
~ avoid getting sidetracked while doing your tasks?
~ manage energy levels while doing your tasks?
~ always feel satisfied with the quality of your finished tasks?
If you genuinely answered “YES” to ALL the above questions, then congratulations! It seems you are taking the right steps to have your day under control. You may, however, want to check out this article to re-enforce your planning strategy.
Now, if you answered “NO” to ANY of the questions above, then we suggest that you take a serious look at this article. We believe that you may find some ideas to make your life a lot easier and save you a ton of time and effort as well.
Plan Your Day – If Not Now When?
“If not now – when?” is a question that others ask us and we also ask ourselves. However, we always wonder… how can we ever find the time to add one more task! There are so many things that need to get done!
We will share with you ways you can determine how you can be confident answering that question with the best answer.
We are talking about all the things that we need to do yet have been constantly putting off. We never seem to be able to get around to doing them.
The reality is that there is only 24 hours in any given day. Time never stands still or replenishes itself. It always moves on whether we are efficient with it or not. We have to figure out how to make the best use of that time or it will just be wasted!
You see if we are just thinking about getting something done today, tomorrow, or whenever, it will never magically get done by itself. Right?
How many times have you thought of doing something and then thought about it again a month or two later, because it was never done? Well, that is exactly what we are talking about… Why is it that you never got it done?
- Was it because you forgot about it? Maybe… But probably not since you did think about it now and then.
- Was it because you never wanted to do it? No! Doing it would have made things better for you.
- Or, was it because you never had the time to do it? No! Since you seem to always have time for other things instead.
- How about the fact that perhaps you never made any real effort to plan to do it? Yes! Now we are getting warm!
Plan Your Day With A Daily Task Planner
Let us go back and revisit some of the topics at the onset of this article. Do you plan your day ahead of time or do you just get up and jump into your day to tackle and deal with whatever comes along?
Hopefully, you have a daily task planner to help you plan and organize your day to complete tasks in an efficient manner. If not then we want to give you one. Read on.
Believe it or not, many people don’t plan their day. They just get up in the morning and do the best they can to deal with the challenges of their new day without any planning ahead of time.
It is not that they don’t care. Rather, it is because they don’t know what else to do. They just continue doing what they have been doing all along… Doing the best they can.
Yet, at the end of their day, even though they have worked very hard, these nice people are amazed as to how quickly the day has gone by and they still have so many unfinished chores.
As a result, they won’t have a real sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. Instead, they tiredly wait to see what tomorrow will bring… Hopeful and wishing that it would be a better and a more constructive day for them.
The truth is, however, that we cannot leave our precious time to chance since the odds are stacked way high against us because we will never get that time back again.
Our daily tasks and challenges will not miraculously take care of themselves.
We have to take a proactive attitude to PLAN and PREPARE AHEAD for our tasks and chores, especially the ones that are important to us.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
Refine Your Plan With a Prioritizing Tasks Worksheet
How do you make a To Do List that actually works? Prepare a realistic list of what needs to be done ahead of time. Then Label each task as “New” or “Recurring.” Your list should include all family and personal chores as well.
You MUST make your to do list the night before for the next day. Otherwise, you will be starting your day without a plan and you may lose some precious time.
It goes without saying that you should always start by doing “First Things First”… That is tasks with the highest priority on your to do list. So, how do you go about prioritizing your tasks? Read the rest of this article for some helpful hints. Then come back and click here or on the image to the above left to get your own downloadable and printable Prioritizing Tasks Worksheet.
For simplicity and clarity of the importance of this step in your prioritizing process, we are glad to introduce to you the famous Eisenhower Decision Principle made popular by Stephen Covey.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey is one of the most renowned experts in Business Leadership, Organizational and Time Management Planning.
Using the Matrix to Plan Your Day
According to Covey, you should categorize the tasks on your to do list so that you can focus on what task is important and not just urgent. As you go over your list, assign each of your tasks into one of four quadrants that best describe that task in terms of importance and urgency.
First Quadrant… the RED area… for tasks that are IMPORTANT & URGENT… and must be done now… normally time sensitive and with a deadline.
Second Quadrant… the ORANGE area… for tasks that are IMPORTANT but NOT URGENT… and need be done soon… usually, to prepare, maintain, or plan something… Family matters… Where quality happens. Schedule them in.
Third Quadrant… the YELLOW area… for tasks that are URGENT but NOT IMPORTANT… need to be done as soon as possible… include interruptions and most pressing matters… These tasks are usually best to be delegated to someone else.
Fourth Quadrant… the GRAY area… for tasks that are NOT IMPORTANT & NOT URGENT… Simply dump these time-wasting tasks from your list.
“Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.” ~Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey Resources on Prioritizing and Time management
You may find that Stephen R. Covey’s book “First Things First” will be a huge help with prioritizing. He also wrote many related books that have helped many people with business, leadership, and time management. The “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a classic that has inspired many of today’s best leaders.
First Things First provides you with a compass, because where you’re headed is more important than how fast you’re going.
Simplify My Day Plan
Simplify your life as much as possible by keeping your to do list simple rather than complex. A simple to do list is easy to follow and finish. This will, in turn, simplify your day.
Examine your list closely to ensure that the tasks are realistic and practically achievable and not just wishful thinking on your part.
You should never cram too many things onto your list. It is better to have tasks on your to do list that you can actually finish. You can also split up tasks that are not doable in one day into several phases over a period of few days.
Having too many difficult tasks on your daily list is just asking for trouble and the frustration of not finishing them. Ask yourself: “Am I physically and mentally able to undertake these tasks on my to do list? If not, remove them from the list.
Also, check to see if you can group two or more tasks together. Doing this may save you time and effort.
There will be times when you need to delegate some of your URGENT tasks to someone else to finish. As we mentioned above, you should, first and foremost, concentrate your focus on the IMPORTANT, and the IMPORTANT & URGENT tasks.
Time Management Tips
Having already prioritized your tasks, according to Covey’s Matrix… The next important process is the Time Management of your tasks. Here are some simple Time Management Tips:
Examine each task individually and then assign a reasonable estimation of the time that it will take you to complete that task on your list. This is important because you have to fit all your tasks within the overall timeframe you have for the day.
For example; Paint master bedroom… One Hour. This allocated time should be at least 2-3 Hours. Because you have to move the furniture out and back in… Or cover and then uncover them. You also need to tape all the adjoining areas as not to get paint on them. Then you have to remove all the tape and do the cleanup.
Always try to overestimate the time to complete any particular task – sometimes up to 50%… So you have a little wiggle room to ensure finishing the task.
Break up big tasks into a few smaller tasks that you can easily handle over a period of several days.
At times, you may find a need to change the order of your tasks around for reasons of time efficiency. So, be flexible and make whatever changes are necessary to get the best results out of your efforts for the day.
Many a time we get distracted by things that have nothing to do with the fulfillment of our tasks. These distractions merely waste our precious time and result in an incomplete day for us. We must keep in mind what is important.
More Time Management Resources
An excellent book to read is “Time Management” by Julie Morgenstern. She approaches time management in the same way that she did in her best selling book Organizing From The Inside Out. Everyone has their own psychological stumbling blocks and strengths. She helps you to understand your own quirks so that you can develop a time-management system that works with your own personality. We are not all the same. Julie recognizes that and helps you to build on your own strengths… Sometimes even when you think you have none.
Time Management from the Inside Out – The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule — and Your LifeOrganizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your LifeNever Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work much better
How to Take a Break
You should learn how to take a break from doing your tasks. Add to your to do list some short personal breaks plus a lunch break.
Many people find the “POMODORO TECHNIQUE” works quite well for taking breaks while doing their tasks. This is a time management method that was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo… Fittingly named after his tomato-shaped timer.
This method basically divides the work time into 25-minute long intervals… With each work interval followed by a 5-minute personal break. We have used this method on many occasions and it really saves the day. It helps you to focus on shorter segments of your long task. In turn, your day becomes much more productive.
If you have not already done so, it is highly important for you to add “time for YOU” to your to do list. Put it down, as a task. Trust us, it really helps to prevent work overload and burnout.
Planning Your Day Starts Now
That is you simply start now to plan tomorrow’s day. There should be things that you did not have time for today. There should be things that you have scheduled. There will be things that pop up and are urgent. By doing your planning ahead of time you have a frame of reference to keep you productive when you have been interrupted. You already know what is important and urgent. That is your top priority.
Remember to only tackle the Important and the Important & Urgent tasks. The rest, you should either delegate or dump them. Don’t waste your time… Chances are that the only person you may be trying to impress is YOU!
Make sure you have fun while doing your chores… Listen to your favorite music or just sing to yourself… The shower is not the only place for practicing your singing!
It is essential that you check and evaluate the quality of each task as soon as it is completed. This evaluation will ensure that you did not leave anything out. If something has been left out, then fix it if you have time. If you don’t have time… Move on to the next task. Just make sure you add it to next day’s to do list.
Learn to Say No!
You have to learn to and discipline yourself to simply say “NO” when someone is asking you to leave your task for any UNIMPORTANT reasons or favors. Saying “NO” justifiably is the hardest thing to learn. But when you learn… It becomes very easy.
It was really hard for us to learn how to say “NO” as well. You just have to build a knack for knowing when to say “NO” so that you do not overload yourself.
This also takes us back to an earlier question, “If not now – when?” We hope that focusing on your priorities will help you to be better able to answer that question. You are either doing it now, You have it on a schedule, You have delegated it to someone else, or you have learned to just say no. It does not fit with your priorities and will take time away from those things that are important.
Time to Have Fun
Okay! Now that you have completed your tasks for the day according to your new plan and strategy, it is time to relax and have some fun… Consider it a rewarding-yourself task, if you will.
Wind down and replenish your energy and enthusiasm for the next day.
Your Day’s Final Task
We certainly hope that you DON’T FORGET! Make your to do list for tomorrow before your bedtime for the night. Oh! You have already done it! Well, we really knew you wouldn’t forget… Have a great day!
Jump to section of page
- 1 Plan Your Day – If Not Now When?
- 2 Plan Your Day With A Daily Task Planner
- 3 Refine Your Plan With a Prioritizing Tasks Worksheet
- 4 Using the Matrix to Plan Your Day
- 5 Stephen Covey Resources on Prioritizing and Time management
- 6 Simplify My Day Plan
- 7 Time Management Tips
- 8 More Time Management Resources
- 9 How to Take a Break
- 10 Planning Your Day Starts Now
- 11 Evaluation
- 12 Learn to Say No!
- 13 Time to Have Fun
- 14 Your Day’s Final Task