Are you having trouble to plan your day? Having a long to do list? You don’t have much time to complete them? Despite being organized and planning but your to do list keep getting longer and longer. Also, you are unable to determine important tasks and end up committing to tasks that doesn’t really matter.
In today’s world, our daily life is busier than ever. Technology has made everything fast that you need to ensure that you do things fast as well. Back in those days, you have to wait for documents for days to work on in your office. Now, you may receive several documents to take care off within a few minutes from email. On top of that, distraction from social media lowers our productivity level as well.
Thus, the best way to ensure that we don’t lose our mind from all these non stop tasks that comes in our life is by planning your day efficiently. If you don’t take control of your tasks, then your daily tasks are just going to grow longer and longer. You need to find ways to do proper daily planning and time management to have a productive day. In this article, I am going to share with you 7 step system that will guide you in managing important things in less time. It is not going to be an easy journey but with time, you will be able to master your day.
1. Get a Planner as your planner tool
First thing you need to do is to have a daily planner or a notebook for you to plan your day. Avoid blank piece of paper or some half used notebook. It need to be a planner that is dedicated for your day plan. There are loads of choice in Amazon or Michaels that you can choose from. Some of my suggestions would be :
The reason why you need to pick a dedicated planner is because you want to make sure that you have the motivation and desire to start planning. This planner is going to be your best buddy in helping you to be a productive person.
Some of you maybe a digitalist and may want to start using your phone or tablet instead. I do agree that having a phone or tablet as a planner has its own benefits but you need to be careful as this tech stuff can be the biggest distraction that we can have in our life. For example, while you are planning your day in the tablet or phone, you may receive a call, tik tok / Facebook / Instagram notification, that may induce the urge to check them out. Boom!!! You are distracted and there goes your precious 1 hour down the drain unproductively.
My advice is stick to basics which is pen and paper, in this case a planner.
2.Setup a Master Tasklist
A Master Tasklist is going to be the most important thing in your life when you are planning your day. This is going to be your Holy Grail. Every time you plan your day, this is the list you are going to look at.
If you have some sticky notes, to do list, task list or any other paper with tasks that you have written on, gather it. Write all of these tasks and todo list in the planner.
You need to be very careful when listing down the tasks. Please make sure that it’s a simple task and not a project. Simple task means tasks that can be completed in a single step or does not require long hours. For example, email client to update on the latest project which can be done within 15 minutes. Tasks such as clean study room is not a task but it’s a project which has number of tasks such as discard papers, sweep floor, wipe dust and etc that requires longer time to complete.
Handling Project / Big tasks
Project type tasks or big task should be written down in a separate page. Name it as P1, P2 and so on for easy identification. Then, on a separate page, write down the little tasks that needs to be done for the projects. Now, you can include these smaller tasks in your master tasklist with symbols like P1 which means Project 1, so that you are able to associate these tasks with its project to track on progress of your projects.
3. Pick Three Top Priority
Prioritising is a great method to ensure that you take control of your day.From the Master Tasklist, you need to identify the tasks that you should prioritize to complete on that day. The whole list can be quite intimidating but Eisenhower Matrix can help you to determine which tasks that you should focus on. This matrix helps you to indentify which are urgent tasks and important stuff that you need to prioritise when planning your day.
The number 3 is just a suggestion. You may opt for 1 or 2 tasks depending on your schedule on that day. So, please remember your number of priority tasks depends on your daily schedule.
4. Other Tasks
You will have some simple tasks that you wish to complete but not urgent or important as in the top priority. These tasks should be written as other tasks. You can always postpone it to next day if you couldn’t do it. The main idea for the other tasks list is to be able to complete different tasks when you have some time to kill. It could be phone calls that you do while you are waiting to pick up kids from school.
You don’t have to beat yourself up for not completing tasks listed in this category because you know that the most important tasks has already been completed for the day.
5. Block time when you plan your day
Time blocks are the key to complete your tasks. Never ever forget this!! Productivity moghul like Elon Musk, blocks his time in 5 minutes to ensure that he does as much as he can. You don’t have to do the same but allocating reasonable amount of time for priorities when planning your day is essential.
Let’s say you need to update attendance list for a function. You need to check your email and update your list accordingly. This process may involve for your to also call up some agencies to confirm their attendance as well. Thus, between checking email and making some calls and some editing, you may need about 45 minutes to do it. You need to include some buffer time in your task (include break time as well), total time you probably need is around an hour.
Make sure, once the allocated time is completed, you move on to the next task on your list. If you don’t you will not be able to cover your priorities for the day. Uncompleted task can be brought forward for another day.
Setting Focus Time for Important Work
Apart from the blocking time technique, setting focus time is also important. Personally, I like to use the pomodoro technique, in which you would be doing 25 minutes of focus work and 5 minutes of rest. I have an app called Emphasis which helps me with this. The pomodoro technique assists me in making sure that I’m not distracted with other things such as checking messages or emails.
In the beginning, I didn’t realise that I can only focus for 5 minutes doing my work tasks and I will move on to other things. As human beings, we prefer simple things that does not require heavy thinking or work and that’s the reason why we get distracted to choose tasks that are easy to work on. With the pomodoro technique, I set my Emphasis app and will force myself to work on that priority alone. Eventually, my focus time has increased (thanks to my practice) and now, I can go long on my work hours during my deep task session without distraction.
Next step is to work on weekly review. This step is important to know whether your current planning system is working or not. Set a weekly schedule to do the review. Best time to do is in Sunday evening but it is entirely up to you to pick the day of the week because you know the best.
During this review, you might realise that you only manage to complete 1 priority a day. If this is the case, then you need to find out why is that so. Your task might be too big which may require you to break it up a little. Or you could be trying to slot in too many things in your priority list. Rectify steps that you find need adjustments or corrections. This process is crucial in developing your own style of planning and executing.
Finally, repeat step 1 to 6 for 3 months. Why 3 months? Because, you need to create a habit of planning.
I’m asking you to do it for 3 months because it equals to quarter of a year. If you are successful at holding up this habit for a quarter of a year, means you have just successfully changed your life and going to be a productive year for you.
Planning is easy but executing it, can be difficult. However, if you have disciplline and the desire to be successful, then you will be able to conquer your day.
Advice – Don’t beat yourself up, if you fail to execute your day the way you planned and end up procrastinating and still doing things a the last hour. You just have to start again tomorrow. Remember to stand back up again every time you fall. If you feel that you need some help in reminding you to be consistent in planning, subscribe to my newsletter. Don’t worry, I won’t spam your inbox with daily emails. It will be a weekly reminder or boost to be productive.