I’ve created a simple to use daily planner because I’ve been really focused on personal productivity recently.
Now that I’m building my career and my business, focusing on my health and fitness, throw in some social activities all while being a new father, changing nappies and supporting my daughters growth, TIME IS PRECIOUS!
The older I get, the more I realise that time is the most precious thing we have in our lives.
So I need to make sure I’m getting the absolute most out of my days.
To do this, I’ve been working on my own approach to planning my day. I know there are hundreds of daily planners our there, but for me, I like to keep things as simple as possible.
Recently, I’ve created a simple daily planner that is working absolute wonders for my productivity. It takes everything I’ve learned about productivity and distills it down into a nice, simple, 1-page plan that takes me less than 5 minutes to do each morning (as quick as 60 seconds).
The Five MUST-HAVE’s in a Daily Planner
Ok, so there are some key components of a daily planner that are absolutely MUSTS for ensuring you get the most from your day:
1. Linked to Your Life Goals
First and foremost, everything that you put down in your daily planner MUST be linked to something greater that you want to achieve in life. If it’s not part of something bigger and important to you, then why are you doing it at all?
2. Step-by-Step Activities
There is no point just having on your daily plan “Do X Project”. You need to break that down into specific things you will get done today.
For example, you could write down:
- Email Sophie schedule for training
- Create module 4 of training
- Meet with Jo to confirm module 4 meets training needs
- Upload leadership training video to Dropbox
By doing this, you remove any need to THINK later in the day. Your brain will thank you as your willpower and energy is a limited resource. This is a great tip in keeping you energised, focused and progressing on what’s important without killing time.
Your activities need to be prioritised.
ALWAYS do the MOST IMPORTANT task first thing in the morning.
Because this is when you have the most energy and willpower.
As I mentioned above, your energy and willpower are limited resources so you need to use them wisely.
Also, have you ever noticed that when you do a big, important task first thing in the morning you feel great about yourself? You feel accomplished and confident. You feel producitive. This feeling and momentum will flow with you throughout your entire day.
Conversely, have you ever noticed that when you put off your most important task that you spend valuable mental energy thinking about it throughout the day? Dreading it? Coming up with excuses? Again, this takes away your energy and also your focus, distracting you from your current tasks at hand.
Always prioritise and always do your most important task first.
4. Capture New Tasks
Throughout the day, you will always be thrown new tasks and activities to do.
Do you have to do them right then and there? Most likely not.
My rule is if it takes less than 2 minutes to do, do it right then and there.
If it’s something that’s going to takes more than 2 minutes, then write it down as a new activity to complete and then quickly get back to doing your most important task for the day.
Whatever you do, don’t get distracted by tasks that you haven’t planned for that end up taking you hours to complete. That’s a recipe for an unproductive and unfulfilling day. It will also reinforce the fact that you don’t have control in your life. You HAVE control. But you have to take ownership of that.
5. Review Your Day
This is one that, admittedly, I only started doing recently.
But I absolutely love it!
Reviewing your day enables you to reflect on what went well (it reinforces the great stuff you have done and it gives you a feeling of accomplishment and confidence) as well as reflect on what you could have done better (enabling you to continually tweak your performance for future days).
The review shouldn’t take long. It takes me about 60 seconds… sometimes a little longer if I have something deeper to reflect on.
You just need to answer 2 questions:
- What went well today?
- What could I have done better or differently today?
My Daily Planner
At the beginning of each day I open a new page in my workbook and write down 3 headings:
- Today (eg Monday)
1) Today (eg Monday)
Under the day (eg Monday), I write down the big buckets of things I need to get done and then bullet point out the specific action steps that I need to take.
I want to try make sure that everything on this list are the big, important things I need to get done. I then order them by what I need to get done first.
I do capture the small things I need to get done too (eg book dentist appointment), but they are obviously prioritised last and if I don’t get to them I push them to the next day.
Once I have this list I get straight into my first action item. Note that prior to this, I’m always functioning best if I have had a solid breakfast, done some exercise, and have showered and dressed.
Under “New”, I capture any new action items that come up that day that I need to get done at some point (I don’t necessarily do them this day. I just capture them so I don’t have to try remember them).
At the end of the day, I take a couple minutes to review all the items I have crossed off for the day and get that nice satisfying feeling!
Then under the “Review” heading, I write down my answers to the 2 questions above: “What went well today?” and “What could I have done better or differently today?”
So that’s it!
Simple, straight-forward and very effective.
Do you have a personal daily planner that you use? What do you do differently?
I encourage you to test this in your own life. Let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d love to hear your results!
P.S. I’m currently working on a number of tools that I know you’re going to love. These are tools that you can quickly and easily use to enhance your life… perfect for coaches and perfect for individuals wanting to improve their lives. Stay tuned!