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One thing most of us suck at is time management. It’s often difficult for an average human to do the right thing at the right time. It is so easy for us to procrastinate, which is why today I’m sharing some tips on how to plan your day so you can get better results in your life.
We all exist in an era where lots of things distract us; the movies on Netflix, YouTube videos, social media, and many other things. We often tend to be busy doing stuff that doesn’t really matter. Sure, it is usually fun, but then such trivial activities don’t really count. Rather, they drag us away from what really matters in life. They distract us from achieving certain set goals in our lives and make us feel like we don’t have time to do what is important.
Now, how do you start managing your time efficiently? How do you start doing what matters and also have enough time to catch some fun?
The answer is PLANNING.
How To Plan Your Day
Well planned time is well managed time. Planning will help you set out time to do what truly matters and also some time to do other minor things. Your life will simply be balanced – thanks to planning.
When you plan, you will be able to create certain goals and also work towards achieving them. But the problem again is that most times, we find it difficult to stick to our plans.
In a bid to manage our time, we make plans. But then we still get carried away especially when we plan wrongly. In order to put your plans to effect, you need to have an end-goal in mind while planning… You don’t just plan for the sake of it!
That being said, I’m sure you really want to learn the art of planning, right?
Today, I will be letting you in on how to plan your day and stick to it; you won’t only learn how to plan, but also how to execute your plans via your day-to-day schedules.
By so doing, achieving your goals will be more feasible.
1. Get Clear With Your To-Dos
One of the first steps you should take when planning your daily activities is to point out the things you want to do.
In order to do this, you have to do a little mental work. Think of those pressing activities you really need to carry out for the day.
Ask yourself; What exactly do I want to accomplish now? When you find out what you need to work on right now, then you will progress to other things you have to accomplish for the day, then for the week, for the month, and then for the year.
Mind you, you have to create long-term and short term goals and action plans. Of course, your daily activities are short term. Unlike monthly and yearly activities.
But it all starts with what you want to do now. Preferably, write down all the things you want to accomplish for the day inside your daily To-Do list. This will help you to keep track of your daily activities.
2. Differentiate Between Important Tasks And Urgent Tasks
After you’ve clearly written your To-Dos on a piece of paper, the next thing is to find out which tasks are important and which are urgent. In other words, you have to prioritize!
Although important tasks sound similar to urgent tasks, they are not the same. If you fail to distinguish between urgent and important, you will keep doing less important things and keep procrastinating when it truly matters.
Important tasks are those activities that are part of your long-term goals; they are tasks that are in line with your future success. They are tasks that really matter and you should prioritize them over any other activity.
Urgent tasks make you feel like they’re important, but in the real sense, they’re not. If care is not taken, you might get carried away executing urgent activities. And hence, your focus will be stolen from what really matters in your life.
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Facebook notifications
- Emails, etc.
These things can easily divert your attention from more important tasks.
You must have heard people say stuff like; I was busy with my house chores but I got a Facebook notification and decided to check it out… I’ve been stuck on my phone since then!
That’s exactly what urgent tasks can cause. Don’t get carried away… prioritize your tasks and stick to the most important ones. That’s exactly how to plan your day.
3. Choose Your Favorite Planning Tools
To enable you to effectively plan and stick to the plan, you need to choose a planning tool. There are different tools that can help you plan out your activities for the day. You just have to choose the one that works well for you.
Google Calendar is one amazing app that serves as an effective planning tool. It’s also what I use to schedule my time – even my free time. If you’re not making good use of it already, definitely check it out!
4. Pay Attention To The End Product
In order to truly hold yourself accountable, you have to focus on the results you intend to achieve, not the task you intend to do. In other words, focus on the end goal, not the means!
Go back to your To-Do list and assign a specific time to each and every task using your calendar (or whichever tool you prefer). While scheduling those To-Dos on your calendar, write them down as though you’ve completed the tasks.
I will give a brief illustration;
Don’t write out the activity you’ll be doing:
- 5pm – 7pm: Work on blog
Instead, write out the RESULT you will have after completing the activity:
- 5pm – 7pm: Publish one blog post
See the difference? The little secret here is to be specific and intentional about the results you want to achieve for the day. Try to achieve them no matter what.
Remember, one can spend the whole day on a task and end up not getting it done. That’s why you shouldn’t focus on the task, but the results. The difference is that you finally did it. The time or the energy you spent does not matter.
5. Schedule Your Fun Time
Work, work, work! (Not Rihanna’s version.) Sometimes all we do is focus on work. You will probably agree with me that it sometimes gets overwhelming.
While it is okay to work hard and try your best to accomplish your daily tasks, you shouldn’t forget to create time for yourself. Have some fun! Your body needs some time to relax and unwind. You need to feel fresh again.
Just so you know, there are times you become less productive no matter how hard you work. That’s simply because, at that point, your body needs some rest or some fun.
Anything between 30 minutes and 1 hour (of rest or fun) is enough to get you back on track.
So schedule some free time! And yes, put it on your schedule, don’t just decide to take some time while your actually busy with something else.
When you schedule time to have fun, you won’t feel awkward relaxing on a cushion and watching movies on Netflix. You will be comfortable because your important tasks have already either been handled or scheduled for a specific time.
6. Assign Less Time To Each Task
Focusing on how to plan your day, you have to understand that time is everything. And of course, time is limited. It waits for no one.
In order to be more productive within the limited time you’ve got, you have to give yourself less time to accomplish any given task.
For instance, if you give yourself 4hrs to write a 1000-word blog post, it will take you 4hrs or thereabout to accomplish the task. But if you give yourself just 2hrs to complete that same task, it will only take you around 2hrs to get it done! You will be more focussed to get it done within the scheduled time.
I know this might seem counter intuitive but it works. Giving yourself less time than you think you need will spur you into action. You just have to remain focused. You can actually achieve a whole lot within a short time.
7. Consider Your Energy Level When Planning
Plan your daily tasks according to your energy level. As you already know, some people tend to be more energetic in the early hours of the day, while others are more productive later in the day. Carry out those time-consuming tasks during those hours when your energy level is at its peak.
The less stressful tasks should be scheduled to take place during some other time in the day – when you don’t require your best mental energy.
8. Plan Ahead
Want to learn how to plan your day and stick to the plan? Then learn how to plan ahead.
Most times, when you plan for the moment, you feel lazy to execute the plan. That’s just how our minds are wired; we just don’t feel like doing it NOW.
So, it is better to use now and plan what should happen tomorrow, or what should happen in a week’s time. Planning ahead is not procrastination. When you plan ahead, you know exactly what to do and when to do it.
There’s a great feeling that comes when you plan your next day in the evening. You just can’t wait for tomorrow to come. You’ll feel poised to get started once you wake up the next day. Planning ahead will really help you to stick to your schedule. Trust me, just try this for one week and you’ll see the difference.
9. Pinpoint Your Top 3 To-Dos
Another way to ensure you stick to any plan you come up with is by identifying your top 3 tasks. Like I said initially, it’s preferable to plan your day in advance.
And it’s simple. Just use the previous evening to identify the top 3 tasks you’d like to accomplish the next day. This will give you a sense of direction and purpose. Besides, it will help you engage in what matters most.
By the time you focus on your top 3 priority-tasks, achieving them won’t be far-fetched.
Moreover, you will hardly be overwhelmed because those trivial activities that occupy your time and space would have been eliminated.
10. Use Reminders
If you are using digital means (like Google calendar) to plan your day, then you should endeavor to activate your reminder as well.
Each scheduled task should obviously have a time frame for it. Your reminder will notify you once the time for a particular task starts and when it elapses. This will help you keep track of your daily activities and stick to your plans effectively.
11. Ensure Your To-Do List Is In Line With Your Goal(s)
This is arguably the most important tip on how to plan your day. You don’t just plan for the sake of it. You have to plan in line with your end-goal.
As a matter of fact, before you even begin the planning process, you must have set a goal. You only plan to achieve the set goals. Your daily To-Dos should be directly or indirectly related to the ultimate goal you intend to achieve in a year’s time or in 5 years’ time.
If your daily activities don’t correlate with your long-term goals, you will never arrive at your desired result. In other words, your daily activities actually determine where you will be in a couple of months or years.
Planning remains the most reliable way to master the art of time management. Sure, it can be very difficult to pull yourself together and plan in detail… it is even more daunting to stick to the plans you’ve already made.
But then, all it takes is your determination and focus. Very few successes are achieved with little or no hard work.
In the end, this post will do a whole lot to guide you to understand what matters most and how to prioritize them. And consequently, sticking to your plans will be easier!