If someone asked me what one of the best ways is to get things done and increase their productivity, I would say: plan your day! I have always been a fan of planning my days and tasks, but ever since I’ve been working from home, I’ve taken it even more seriously.
The great thing about planning your day is that it can be done easily. You can use a planning app, a digital calendar, a spreadsheet, a notebook, a planner, or some planning pages. The way you choose to plan your day is up to you.
For me, using a planner is my favorite way of planning my day. I love the satisfying feeling of crossing off a task or placing that checkmark behind it. Before we go into the tips to plan your day, let’s first discuss why it is important to plan your day.
Why should you plan your day?
Planning your day has many benefits. Some of these are:
1. Increasing your productivity by keeping track of everything that needs to be done and staying focused on achieving the goals you planned to reach.
2. Planning can help prevent forgetting what you need to do for the day, week, or month.
3. It can help you increase your time management by planning ahead how much time you will be spending on each task.
4. Planning ahead can help you prepare mentally for your day, which can help you work more focused and goal-driven.
5. Planning can help you with goal setting. If you plan your day, you can reflect and evaluate what you have achieved and which goals you need to change if necessary and why.
6. Being able to check off or strike through the tasks you’ve done can have a satisfying feeling and can motivate you to finish the rest of your activities.
Now that we know why it is important to plan your day and what all the benefits are of planning your day let’s talk about the tips that can help you plan your day effectively.
7 Tips to Plan Your Day
1. Plan your days ahead
Try to plan your day a day or week ahead instead of the morning. If you wait until that day to plan the rest of the day, you might forget some of the important tasks that need to be done.
Pick out a day to plan out your week, so you at least have a basis of what needs to be done. You can always tweak your planning if something important comes up.
Also, keep your planner close by so when something pops up in your head that needs to be done, you can write it down and plan it in right away. Even if it is for the next week or even later.
2. Don’t Plan Too Much for One Day
When you’re writing down your tasks for the day, make sure to keep it realistic. Get to know your capabilities and limits. Find out how long you work on something and keep that in mind when you’re busy planning.
Placing too many tasks in one day can cause you to get demotivated, or it can stress you out. This can cause you to work less effectively or inefficiently.
Remember that quality is better than quantity. It’s better to get fewer tasks done effectively and adequately instead of completing more tasks with lousy quality.
Especially if some of your tasks are something you’re just learning, keep in mind that it will take time to do it faster. Give yourself time to learn and grow.
3. Prioritize Your Tasks
Always prioritize what most definitely needs to be done that day and what could be moved to another day if you don’t get to it.
This way, you can make sure that those tasks get done first when you have the most energy and time.
With that, I don’t mean that you should go ahead and procrastinate on your other tasks, but you can start on them and finish them another day if it’s not possible. Because you never know what a day might bring. And if something comes up that’s out of your control, you at least have the most important tasks done.
Make sure to plan the unfinished tasks for another day right away so you don’t forget them.
4. Keep in Mind How Long It Takes to Complete Your Tasks
It’s essential to know how long you work on something so you can plan effectively. So, if you’re doing something for the first time, plan in enough time to get it done. Track your time to know for future planning how much time you need to schedule for it.
Also, keep track if you start spending less time on it because of experience, so you can plan more things to do that day.
5. Write everything down
One of the benefits of planning is that it helps you remember the things that need to be done. But to benefit in this way from planning, you do need to write everything down.
Whenever you think of something you need to get done or make an appointment write it down, preferably write it precisely with the date you will be doing it. In that case, even if you forgot it by the day it needs to be done, or you need to get on that call, it’s written there to remind you about it.
6. Use Time Management Methods
If you want your plans for the day to work out, you’ll need good time management. There are several time management methods you can use. Some of them are time batching and time blocking.
Time batching is when you group a couple of related tasks to do them in a specific time period without any distractions, without working on any other things.
Time blocking is when you block out a specific time period to spend on a particular task. In this time block, you only work on this task.
There are more time management methods, but these two are my favorite. They help you get through your plans of the day and help you work effectively, increasing your productivity.
Find out which method works best for you when you plan your day.
7. Keep Your Goals in Mind When Planning
Always keep your goals in mind when planning your days. Your goals for each day (short-term goals) should be focused on reaching those bigger long-term goals.
Keep in mind when you want to reach your long-term goals to plan effectively and prioritize the right tasks.
If you realize that your deadlines are getting closer, evaluate how you can change your plans for the day or if maybe you need to adjust your deadline. Figure out which is the more realistic option.
And that’s a wrap! 7 tips that can help you the next time you plan your day and 6 reasons why you should start planning your days. Remember to plan your day with your own capabilities in mind. Don’t base your planning solely on what others expect from you, even if it is at work. Make sure that you also plan in your regular breaks and enough time to relax. These two things are essential for your mental health and your productivity.
Everybody is different, and what works for others does not have to work for you as well.
If you have any questions or any other tips that might be helpful for planning, I’d love to read them in the comments!