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6 Tips to Improve your Daily Planning

At the end of the day, week or weekend, do you find yourself wondering what the heck happened? How are all those things STILL on your to-do list? You are not alone!

In my [attempted] FB Live this week, I discussed productivity and what I have found in work with my own coach and clients. I talked about how the need to feel more productive is really driven by our desire to have a different experience of our day/week/month, etc. In many cases it is a belief we have or lens we are viewing ourselves or the situation through, that holds us back. If we can shift that lens, like a pair of sunglasses, then we can actually “be” who we want to “be” and productivity takes care of itself.

That being said, I’m a total organizational nerd. I love planning, planners and all tips & tricks on how to become better at it! And….I don’t believe I’m out here alone on Planner Island! For my comrades in arms, this is for you!

The first question to ask yourself or look at is: do your plans & lists exist in your head or do they exist on paper(or in an app) somewhere? This is the first step to planning success: writing your to-dos and schedule down, as well as really looking at it. One benefit of doing this comes from seeing the list in one place as typically these lists seem much smaller in our heads. When we write them down, we realize how much we are hoping to accomplish, at minimum, how much is on our mind to be worked or moved forward in some way. Another benefit that comes from looking at your to-do list and your actual calendar at once, side-by-side, is that you realize how much time you ACTUALLY have. On your to-do list, you may have something that you think will take you 3 hours to accomplish and you want to get it done today. However, when you look at your calendar, you may realize that you only have 2 hours available, unless you move things around.

  1. List out your to-dos on paper and BE SPECIFIC. Don’t just put the project or file or activity that needs to get done, but what specific action you need to take. Do you need to review someone else’s work, create a deck, do the analysis, find a place for dinner, cook the meal, research camps, etc. The more specific the better.

  2. Decide on two time allotments for each item. The first allotment is the perfect scenario; if you have all the time in the world or everything goes smoothly with this particular action, how much time do you expect or want to spend on it? The second allotment is the worst scenario; if something else comes up that requires your attention, the item is more complicated or difficult than you anticipated, how much time is the minimum you want or need to spend on it, to know you put started to move it forward?

  3. Prioritize the items. You can use numbers or letters or shapes, it doesn’t matter. Be clear about what matters most when push comes to shove.

  4. Detail out what you want done by when. Do you need to create the deck by tomorrow at 5pm? Do you need to review someone else’s work by 11am today? Do you need to research restaurants by Wednesday? (This works the same using just a single day, you just commit to what time you want to have X done by, or have spent Y time on it by.)

  5. Look at your calendar next to your to-do list. Calculate how much time you have available outside of appointments, meetings, eating, taking time to check email, etc. Block out or write in which items will be tackled when. This is critical, do not skip this step. By doing this, when other opportunities or emergencies come up, you will easily be able to share what they are impacting and be able to better adjust to ensure the priorities still get done. You will also be better prepared to communicate potential delays to bosses, girlfriends, business partners, kids or ask for help re-prioritizing. Obviously, you’d want to tackle the highest priority items first, I would also plan to tackle the most complex or dreaded early on as well. Some people believe you build momentum by doing easy things first; I completely disagree with this. It may feel good in the moment, but you will not be happy with yourself later. Inevitably, something will come up or something will be more complex than you imagined, take more time than you planned. If this is the thing you’ve left until the end, it will make it that much harder to hone in on.

  6. Brainstorm obstacles that will come up. Will friends ask you to go to dinner at the same time you planned to go to the gym? Will a business partner have a last minute request? Will the dog eat all the Easter Candy and need to go to the vet? Brainstorm what you want to do when this happens. Are you ok with certain things not getting done (these should be the lower priority items)? Will you ask your friends to meet a half hour later so you can get in a small workout? Will you ask a teammate to help with the last minute request? Will you decline that last minute meeting popping up when you were supposed to create that deck?

Hopefully, between this quick list & my video, you've gotten idea of how to feel more productive or plan your day better. I truly geek out on this stuff; while I will be sharing additional information in the future, if you have questions now, feel free to reach out! I love me a good planning conversation!

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