How to Effectively Plan Your Day and Stick to It
Do you have a million things to do? I feel ya! I know what it’s like to constantly run around trying to get everything done.
You wake up and have a long list of things that need to be accomplished. And by the time the day is over, you’ve only crossed one task off of your list.
It leaves you feeling frustrated and wondering where the day went. You’re stuck wishing you had done things differently.
Well, no more of that.
Are you ready for my #1 secret to plan your day effectively and stick to it like the productivity queen you were meant to be?
The secret: If you want to get things done, achieve goals, and stay focused, you have to start preparing the night before.
How to Plan Your Day and Stick to It
Prepare the Night Before
Getting a head start on your tasks is going to help you get more done. Plus, it allows you to have extra time for other things. By preparing the night before, you can be confident that your morning won’t be a total disaster.
And guess what? All you need are a few minutes at night to prepare. Here is what you need to do:
- Set your alarm clock for the time you want to wake up, and don’t hit that snooze button in the morning. I wake up at 5 am to get some work done on my blog before my actual working hours.
- Document your most important tasks on a piece of paper. Don’t think about this too much. We’ll fine-tune it and plan everything out when you wake up. This list is to ensure you have a place to start in the morning.
Identify Your To-Do’s
So you woke up on time and made that list I suggested, right? Great! All those tasks you wrote down are going to be a part of a master to-do list.
To-do lists are perfect for planning ahead. After reading on these two tips below- prioritizing and grouping – I want you to think about every single task you want to complete today. Use the list you made last night as your starting point.
- Prioritize Important Tasks – When you have a lot of to-dos, you have to decide what needs to be done first. Are there any urgent tasks you need to complete immediately? So what are the most important things you need to do today? Since I’m running an online business (my blog), my daily tasks are focused on things that’ll help my blog grow.
- Group Similar Tasks – This strategy involves grouping together similar tasks so you can get them out of the way faster. For example, let’s say you have to write two essays for school. Instead of writing one essay and then taking a break before working on the second, you could create an outline for both essays at one time. This allows you to save time.
So now you know what tasks to include on your to-do list. Could you take a moment to write them out? You can do this on your phone, on a laptop, or even on a sheet of paper.
Are you done with that list? Good! I want you to take all the tasks on that list and add them to a planning tool.
Add To-Do’s to A Planning Tool
There are several planning tools and apps to choose from to keep track of your tasks. With these endless options, it can be difficult to choose the right one that will effectively help you plan.
Some things to keep in mind are your personal preferences. Do you prefer writing things down? Then a paper planner may make more sense for you. Or do you spend all your time on your laptop? In this case, I would recommend a digital planner.
My top 3 planning tools are a bullet journal, Google Calendar, and an excel spreadsheet.
I will give you a mini breakdown of how I use each planning tool for my online business.
- Bullet Journal – A bullet journal is my go-to for daily planning. I write down all my blog tasks for the day, starting with the most important task first. Then I add in all my other tasks. This is usually a very long list, and if something doesn’t get done, I just move it over to the next day.
- Google Calendar – I love using the Google Calendar to keep track of significant events like publishing a blog post or the launch of a product.
- Excel Spreadsheet – Excel is my bestie. I use her for planning out tasks and for creating processes. For example, writing compelling blog posts follows a process. At least for me, it does. So I have a blog post checklist with several tasks that I have to check off before a post goes live.
So, what planning tools do you use? And at this very moment, how do you feel about your ability to plan your day and stick to it?
If you’re not feeling very confident, just keep on reading. I’m going to talk about some basic time management strategies.
Utilize Time Management Strategies
To-do list? Check! Tasks added to your planning tool? Check! Let’s go over some practical time management tips to get the most out of your day.
Take a look at all the different tasks you need to complete, and assign a time frame for each task. This is called time blocking. You’re telling yourself you’re going to work on this one task for a specific amount of time, then you’re going to move on to something else.
This tip is really effective at getting you to focus on one task at a time. Sometimes we’re trying to work on three things at the same time, and in the end, we don’t get anything accomplished.
Building in buffer time is also essential when assigning a time frame to complete a task. Unexpected events will occasionally happen, and you want to be prepared when they do.
So themed days are closely related to the ideas of grouping similar tasks. Basically, you would assign certain tasks to a specific day. So for my blog, I have certain tasks I try to do on a particular day of the week. On Sundays, I like to schedule out Pinterest pins for the week. On Thursdays, I publish new blog posts.
Schedule Your Downtime
No matter what tasks you have on your list, you have to remember to take a break. Don’t forget about all the fun stuff you can do with your downtime. Use that break time to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Even a little five-minute break devoted to self-care goes a long way.
Scheduling frequent breaks throughout the day can help keep your mind fresh and focused. So you get to be productive without feeling exhausted. Doesn’t that sound like a win-win situation?
Eliminate Common Distractions
Distractions are everywhere, and it’s one of the main reasons most people don’t complete tasks.
I’m guilty of this. I’ll get distracted by something and sometimes never return to the task I was trying to accomplish.
Some common distractions are social media, phone calls, and television.
Social media can be incredibly addictive. You read one comment under a friend’s post, and now you’ve visited the profiles of 10 strangers and now know everything about them. Or is that just me?
Anyway, no matter how much you love being in the know, you have to give less time to social media and more to your most important tasks.
Phone calls can be time-consuming, especially when you’re catching up with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. But try to keep your phone calls scheduled for a specific time of the day.
If you’re interrupted by a call, make it quick. You can return the call later.
Listen, tv is a big part of our culture. I get it! I love nothing more than to curl up on my sofa and binge-watch my favorite tv show.
But this also makes it extremely difficult to get things done. Turn the TV off! Better yet, temporarily place your tv in another room while you’re working on important tasks.
The best thing to do is avoid distractions whenever possible! Airplane mode works wonders! But if you do get distracted, you can plan how long you will allow yourself to be distracted and then get back to work.
Additional Tips for a Productive Day
- Build your to-do list around your goals. Each task completed gets you closer to your goal.
- Make regular planning a habit. Try to create a weekly schedule every Sunday evening.
- Pay attention to your energy levels. Eat breakfast, and take breaks throughout the day. This can re-energize you and help you to complete tasks.
- Keep a pen and notebook nearby so that you can write down your thoughts when you wake up.
- Avoid multitasking when possible.
- Work in intervals.
- Focus on your results.
Final Thoughts: Always Plan Ahead
The hardest part of planning your day and sticking to it is not knowing what to do with your day. This is why planning ahead is important. Planning your day in advance helps you focus and manage your time more efficiently. This ultimately leads to you getting more done in your day.
So no, you don’t need to spend several hours every week trying to plan out your day. Just keep making that to-do list at night, follow this guide, and enjoy all the productive days to come.