So how do you get started and what are some of the best ways to plan your day? Follow the ten steps below and you’ll be on your way towards increasing your own productivity and managing your time much more effectively.
1. Plan in advanceOne of the best and easiest ways to plan your day is to come up with a plan of action the day before. Think about all the things you need to do the following day and make a list. Whether you do it the old fashioned way, with a pen and a piece of paper, or choose another alternative (such as an Excel spreadsheet or a different software like Evernote), it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have a solid plan in place that you can use the next day.
2. Know your biggest goals for the dayOnce you have a plan, make sure you know what your most important goals are going to be for the day. Always think about which of these tasks will produce the best results in the shortest amount of time, and focus on getting these out of the way first. Leave other, low-priority jobs such as checking and replying to your emails or checking your social media accounts for later. Look at the things that are going to get you more tangible results and focus on achieving them – everything else can wait.
Once you know which tasks are going to give you the best results, create a priority list. Always focus on getting high priority tasks completed first before going on to low priority tasks.
3. Allocate time for each taskAllocate time to each of your most important tasks that you need to complete on a given day. This will help you to work out how much time you’ll need for completing them and where you can fit them in into your workday.
4. Plan breaksAlthough it might seem counter-productive at first, always make sure to take regular breaks during the day. Without rest, you are going to lose concentration and focus on what it is you’re doing.
So whenever you’re planning your schedule for the following day and trying to work out how much time you’ll need for specific activities, leave plenty of time for breaks. It’s a good idea to plan several short breaks throughout the day instead of one long one.
5. Plan time for exerciseIt is a proven scientific fact that exercise helps with productivity, so regular exercise is just as important as giving yourself plenty of rest. Make sure to fit some exercise into your routine, even if it’s only a half an hour walk each day. Ideally, you should try and do some exercise before your workday begins, because it will really kick you into gear and put you in a good state of mind for the upcoming day.
6. Leave enough time for breakfastStudies show that people who skip breakfast are less productive than those who don’t, so if you can, try to avoid skipping breakfast. If you want to save yourself some time, you can also plan what you will eat in advance. Ideally, it should be something healthy and something that will give you lasting energy throughout the day.
7. Split your day into short intervalsSplitting your workday into shorter intervals has been shown the most effective way to work for many people. Studies have shown that we tend to start losing concentration and focus after long periods of work time, so it’s important to take short breaks and split your day into smaller sections. One of the most common methods for doing this is the Pomodoro Technique, which advocates working in short bursts followed by a period of rest before repeating the cycle.
8. Wind downWe all need some downtime. Make sure to allocate time purely for relaxing and switching off each day when you go home. Even if it’s just half an hour for reading a book, watching some TV, even cooking a nutritious meal. The most important thing is to take your mind off work and get a completely clear and fresh mind, so always plan this is in your daily routine.
9. Set daily remindersSet yourself daily reminders each day to keep you focused on your most important goals. There are some brilliant time management and productivity smart phone apps that will help you do just that, but you can also download various software programs to your tablet, laptop or desktop that will help you stay on track.
10. EvaluateDid you accomplish everything you set out for the day? Go back and evaluate your initial plans and see how it went. Evaluating your day is not only a good way to increase your productivity but it will also help you to see where you can improve certain aspects of your daily planning. The more you do this the better you’ll become at planning your day, so make sure to incorporate this evaluation into your routine.
ConclusionHaving a clear plan and a detailed to-do list are crucial for maximising your productivity and getting the most out of your working days. Always remember to plan your day in advance and try to stick to this plan throughout the day. At the end of the day – or the week, if that’s easier for you – evaluate your progress and the effectiveness of your initial plans, and see how you could improve your daily planning even more.
If you follow the ten best ways to plan your day that we’ve highlighted above, you’ll see a considerable improvement in your productivity and time management in no time.