Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up every morning and know that you will accomplish everything on your to-do list? The key to the feeling of having a productive day requires just a bit of planning, consistency, and some simple tools used intelligently.
You wouldn’t embark on a road trip without a map and expect to get to where you want to go, right? Think about your upcoming projects, goals, and priorities the same way- you need a roadmap to guide you through the day. Below, we’ve listed a few ways on how to schedule your day effectively and close out the day feeling accomplished.
Choose your tools.
There are about a million different apps, time tracker software, planners, intention journals, etc. to choose from these days. The bottom line is, you need a system that works for you. Decide whether you prefer a virtual tool like an app or if you prefer scheduling your day in a physical planner. Feel free to experiment, but once you find a system that works harmoniously with your unique workstyle, commit to it, and stay consistent. You may prefer scheduling everything in GCal, for example, then transposing everything into a paper planner on your desk.
Despite all the fantastic technology available to boost productivity, many of us still prefer old-fashioned planners and paper to-do lists. Writing out tasks in a physical planner or to-do list makes for a more mindful practice. The fact that there is limited space available on a physical planner means you have to think about how you want to fill it.
Need some workflow inspo? Look into the Pomodoro method, a tried-and-true technique for increasing productivity. The Pomodoro method schedules your day into 25-minute chunks of intense productivity, with a five-minute break between the working sessions. After four successful Pomodoros, take 30 minutes off to refresh, grab a snack, stretch, or do something completely unrelated to work.
By introducing this sense of urgency into your time, most people report being way more productive during those 25 minutes and forcing yourself to take breaks in between the Pomodoro's to avoid burning yourself out on one task.
(Bonus: using this technique makes it easy to measure how long a specific task or project takes you, by counting how many Pomodoro's, or working sessions, one particular job or project takes you to complete!)
Start your day by setting an intention.
It can be as simple as writing down your top goal for the day on a post-it and sticking it to your monitor or writing it at the top of your daily planner. Setting an intention or top priority for the day somewhere you’re sure to see it throughout the day will remind you to stay on track when your mind starts wandering. If you’re feeling inspired, you can also set intentions for each aspect of your day- for your wellness, your family life, and your work projects.
You can also check back in at the end of your workday and think about what went well and what needs tweaking. Did you accomplish your most important tasks? If not, what prevented you? How can you minimize that particular distraction in the future?
Checking in at the end of your workday allows you to map out what needs more time and where you could work smarter, not harder so you can schedule your next day more effectively.
Schedule your day the night before.
Most people wake up in reactive mode, meaning they tackle tasks as they come up, even those they could have prepared for. A better strategy is to think about the next day the night before and plan accordingly. We all have basic tasks we can check off before turning in for the night to make mornings more comfortable- tasks like setting out your clothes, preparing a healthy breakfast (overnight oats, anyone?), or packing school lunches before turning in for the night. Prepping a few things in the night before will save you precious time in the morning, so you can wake up relaxed, knowing that you’re already ahead.
Before going to bed, check for any upcoming appointments or meetings that you need to prepare. Do you have an important meeting you need to dress up for? Is there a new Pilates class you plan to check out during your lunch break and need to pack a gym bag?
By taking the time to write out a few tasks you want to complete, you give yourself some direction. Even if you wake up feeling unmotivated or uninspired, you’ll still have a place to start.
Plan your day before turning on your computer.
Often, the first thing we do when we get to the office is to turn on our computer and check our email. Unless you have something super time-sensitive to finish, it’s better to take 5-10 minutes to plan out your day, hour by hour, before getting sucked into your inbox and the inevitable distractions that await there. Schedule in any meetings, including the time you’ll need to prepare for them, and fill the in-between time with productive work hours, scheduling the more difficult tasks earlier in the day.
It’s always better to tackle a difficult task first thing in the morning, while your brain is still fresh and hasn’t been worn down by decision fatigue.
When you’re planning out your day, don’t forget to schedule in some time for things like:
- Self-care: this can be a short yoga practice, meditation, or a walk around the neighborhood. (This 5-minute dance break is perfect for boosting endorphins, doing some quick cardio, and is sure to lift you out of an afternoon slump!)
- Any meetings, appointments, or calls that you need to schedule your time around, including any time that you may need to prepare for these appointments
- Your top three priorities that you want to accomplish today that you wrote in your intention practice we mentioned above.
- Any daily habits you’d like to start incorporating into your day
By scheduling your day effectively using these simple techniques, you’re giving yourself more time to do the things you love. Rushing through the day with no plan or intention, trying to frantically tick boxes on your long list of to-dos ultimately leads to feeling frazzled, unaccomplished, and unproductive. By adopting these simple techniques, you will find that your days are more harmonious, peaceful, and productive.
How do you plan your days? We’d love to hear about tips and tricks that have helped you arrange your days! Comment below