Being busy and being productive are two very different things. We are all busy working one way or another, but how many of us are making truly productive use of our time?
If you’re someone who feels like they are struggling with productivity at work, school or life in general then the one thing you may want to look at doing is to plan each of your days in some detail.
Preparing and planning for your actual workday can have great benefits in terms of your productivity, motivation and being able to get things done. It might sound like a simple process, but it isn’t as simple as most people think! So, let’s dive in and take a look at these 8 tips for planning a productive day:
1. Plan And Prepare The Night Before
What most people do wrong when it comes to planning their day is that they do it in the morning. With so many distractions and so many small things that could go wrong; planning in the morning could turn into a wasted effort. If you start your day without being efficient, then there’s a significant possibility that you’re going to have an unproductive day overall.
Planning your day in the morning is like running like a headless chicken; however if you can plan your upcoming day the night before you will give yourself the luxury of being able to think about what you want to accomplish and how you can go about it in the most efficient way rather than it being rushed.
2. Try To Maintain A Journal
If you want to attain a super-human level productivity, then you must maintain a journal.
I don’t use a physical journal as I prefer an electronic method so use Evernote but you may prefer to use a traditional paper journal – it’s whatever method you’re most comfortable with using on a regular basis.
My journal is like my second brain, keeping track of what I have done well, done badly, what I want to do and what I won’t bother trying again. Whether you choose to use paper or digital, a journal lets you note down pretty much anything and everything. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your personal journal like a diary, something you are researching on or a project- a journal allows you to get everything important out of your head and into a safe place so you’re not worried about forgetting anything or doing the same things over and over again.
3. Make A To-Do List
Make a list of the most important things you have to get done but make it realistic. Don’t introduce more than two new tasks a day, and stick to following the list every day. In no time you’ll see that you’re more productive than you’ve ever been before. This is my typical to-do list that I always try to stick with:
If you find that there is something that’s constantly on your to-do list that you keep putting off and not completing, it can be really off-putting to see it there day-after-day so consider setting up a separate “Someday/Maybe List” to keep these items away from your daily tasks.
4. Write Down An Overview Of The Day
Leave some space for writing the overview of the day below your to-do list. In that space write down all the things you got done in a bullet point and the things you think you have to improvise or be more efficient.
This is what my typical overview or story of the day looks like:
There is a great power in writing a “To-Done List”. Quite often we may feel like a fraud, that we haven’t accomplished anything but if we write down all the things we do accomplish we will be surprised on what we do complete.
Similarly, if we write down things we don’t get done each day we can start to see patterns of things that we continually avoid and then begin to deal with them in an appropriate way – perhaps by delegating, breaking the task down or moving it to a “someday/maybe” list.
5. Set Up A Morning Ritual
A morning ritual is like a plateau that you hit for your physical, mental and spiritual health. If you can make a habit out of it then you’ll get a 10X boost in your productivity. I’m speaking from personal experience. I religiously maintain a morning ritual that primes my mind, body, and spirit to conquer the day. I didn’t have a morning ritual. But now that I do, I feel like my productivity is soaring. Here are some of the morning rituals that you can try. Here’s what my morning ritual looks like:
Setting up a routine for each day gets you in a great mindset for completing the other tasks that you have set up. If your routine is regular then this also aides your ability to get things done as we all hate to break a habit chain: the more we do things, the more we want to continue doing them.
6. Do The Hard Stuff First Thing In The Morning
One common mistake people often make is that they don’t structure their daily tasks in a way that preserves their willpower, It’s always the other way around – over 100 years ago Mark Twain encouraged us to “Eat a live frog” every morning, knowing that that would be the hardest thing you’d have to do all day.
Researchers have found out that our willpower or self-control is a finite resource. It’s like a battery so the harder your task, the more it depletes. If you want to lose weight, write a book, meditate, workout, do yoga or any other activity that you may find difficult to get done, then try to do them in the morning right after you wake up because it may help you out. That’s why a morning ritual is necessary
7. Get Enough Sleep
Willpower, self-control, and motivation are directly correlated with your sleep quality. They are finite resources. Now I’m not going to tell you how many hours of sleep you need in a day cause that varies from person to person and also by age limits. But if you don’t get enough sleep then no matter how much you plan or prepare, you’ll never be able to get things done smoothly; unless of course if you are a robot!
8. Plan Planning
If you want to plan your day, then make sure that you plan planning your day. Confused? Let me explain what I mean by that. No matter what you plan or how you plan; if you don’t do it consistently every day, then this article won’t help you much.
If you are just starting to get into the habit of planning then I’d suggest that you try to give yourself 15 to 20 minutes at night for planning and strategizing the next day. This will mean you have a clear plan of action and aren’t rushing around in the morning trying to get your to-do lists written in time.
Now that you know all the tidbits of planning then make sure that you use a journal, plan and prepare the night before, have a streamlined morning ritual and most importantly do them consistently so that you can attain super-productivity. Hope these 8 tips for planning a productive day added some value to your life.