Daily planning sounds like a daunting chore. Like some time-consuming errand that you don’t want to do. Like laundry or unloading the dishwasher.
But good news. It’s not like that at all.
In fact, once you understand how to do it, you’ll likely look forward to and enjoy doing it. Because doing your own daily planning, and doing it well, will allow you to make real progress in the direction you want to move.
It will allow you to… actually… before I start listing off the reasons why daily planning is so important, let me clear the air on something first.
Daily Planning: How To Have An Undeniably Productive Day
Not everyone is a “planner.” Some people like to get organized and schedule out their time. Others like to play it by ear.
That’s all good. No right or wrong answer either way. As the saying goes, to each their own.
BUT when it comes to your time, and getting the absolute most out of it, I’d make the argument that you 100% need to be a planner. That you need to be deliberate about how your days are spent and conscious of how you spend them.
Because if you want to do something amazing with your life (which if you’re reading this you do), then you need to be smart about your time. That’s where daily planning comes into play and that’s what this post is all about.
Helping you understand:
- What daily planning is
- Why it’s important
- How to create your own daily plan
- And everything in between
Let’s dive right in.
What is daily planning?
Daily planning is scheduling out your time each day to best serve you. It is looking at what you want to do, what you need to do, and when to do it, and then adding it all together to create a plan for your day.
In other words, see the official daily planning definition as simply: planning out your day. It is a combination of:
- Calendar organizing
- And task management
All to ensure that you get the most of your each and every day. When done right, you’ll find that your days are incredibly productive and that you make huge strides towards your goals.
When done wrong, you’ll feel stuck. Like you’re moving in circles, not going anywhere.
Feeling stuck is never fun which is why my aim for this post is to show you the right way to plan out your day. That way when you go to sleep each night you’ll know that you used your time wisely during the day.
The importance of daily planning
Daily planning is incredibly important. As I mentioned above, when you do it right it will allow you to get more out of each day. You will feel more productive with your time and you will likely get much more done than if you had gone into your day without a plan.
Because by having a plan you’ll be organized, prepared, and ready to go. You won’t spend an hour running around trying to figure things out. Instead, you’ll already have your plan of attack and be ready to go.
But that just covers the day-to-day.
When you look at the macro, at the big picture, daily planning is even more important. Because in the long term, being more productive each day will compound upon itself.
Your efforts will multiply and multiply until you inevitably reach your goals, and consequently your ideal life, faster than ever before. All because you’re using your time more effectively.
And really that’s the power of mastering your time in any capacity – productivity, time management, goal setting, you name it. That’s the underlying purpose behind this all; to help you own your time and achieve your ideal life.
So see daily planning as a tool in your tool belt to make that happen.
When should you do it?
You now know what daily planning is and why it’s so important. At this point you may be wondering when is the best time to go about daily planning.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to incorporate it into your day wherever you see fit. But my recommendation?
Well, I suggest that you do it at the end of each day.
Meaning that when your day is winding down, take a look at tomorrow and do your daily planning for that day. That way you’ll have your plan ready so that as soon as you wake up you can pop out of bed and get to it.
Others may suggest waking up and doing your daily planning first thing, and that could possibly work too, but I personally prefer to do my daily planning at the end of each day.
To give you an example, let’s say that tomorrow is Tuesday. That would make today Monday. So today I go about my day, completing all my tasks and having a great time of it. Then at the end of today, I’d sit down and do my daily planning for Tuesday.
That way, I can wake up tomorrow (Tuesday) and have my plan ready. And then when Tuesday is winding down, I’d create my plan for Wednesday. So on and so forth each day including the weekends.
So when it comes to your own daily planning, when to do it will be up to you.
To start though, I recommend doing it at the end of each day. Then as you get more comfortable with the planning process, you can experiment with different times or periods of the day.
Where to do your daily planning
The next question that comes up is where to do your daily planning. And again, it’s up to you. You can do your planning on a piece of paper, a note on your phone, or really anywhere you’d like.
Personally, I prefer to keep things simple, flexible, and accessible. So having to travel about my days with a notebook or pad of paper doesn’t work for me. Instead, I take advantage of the great technology available today.
With that in mind, my favorite daily planning app, and the place that I do all my daily planning, is on Google Docs.
Google Docs is one of my favorite productivity tools because of how simple it is to use. It’s just a digital piece of paper, after all. You can access it from any device and it’s totally free. I recommend using Google Docs for your daily planning efforts, but it’s up to you.
Whatever you find to be comfortable and easy to use, use that. Keep in mind that the best processes are often the simplest ones.
How to do your own daily planning
With the background out of the way, let’s explore how you can go about creating your own plan each day.
See the following notes as a daily planning template that you can use time and time again. A formula that you can apply to create an effective plan for your time.
I’ll give you the breakdown first, then I’ll explain it in more detail after.
Also, be aware that I recommend a few of my other posts to you below. That is so you have the necessary background in place to fully understand and effectively plan out your day. They’re there to help fill in the gaps.
Time: be aware of your time – of how much time you have and how much you need. See my post on Parkinson’s Law for more on that.
Mandatory activities: determine what periods of large mandatory activities you have going on tomorrow (and when). For example:
- Work on side hustle
- 9-5 job
- Family Time
Big picture: consider your goals and big picture. See my posts on how to set goals and how to achieve goals for context and to recognize what direction you want to head in. Also, check out my goal setting course.
Tasks: with Parkinson’s Law and your goals in mind, write down the various tasks that you have to do within those large blocks of time you noted above. Be sure to note how long each task should take and in what order you should do them. Be sure to prioritize tasks that will help you achieve your goals over tasks that won’t.
Action: with your plan ready, rest easy and wake up tomorrow knowing that you’re ready to go. Pop out of bed and start acting on the plan that you created the day before. You’re prepared, you have your plan, and now you can get to it.
Build on top of each other
With the breakdown in mind, each of the listed steps needs to be completed before moving onto the next. Meaning that:
- You need to understand Parkinson’s Law before you can move onto…
- Your mandatory activities. Once you noted those, you can…
- Consider your goals. Then with your goals in mind you can…
- Effectively plan out and prioritize your tasks within each block of time. And with that done…
- You can be ready to take on the day.
Each step leads into the next one and they all build on top of each other. Each step is equally important because each step holds a different key to the daily planning process.
With that in mind though, planning out your day can become very complicated, very quickly if you let it. Do your best to keep things simple and to not overcomplicate or overschedule yourself.
More productive than the last
I know how tricky it can be to plan out your day – especially when first getting started. Because of that, I’ve created a free bootcamp series that will show you, in minute detail, how to create a plan for your time.
In my 5-Day Productivity Plan Bootcamp, I’ll email you 1 new lesson each day. Each lesson will cover a different part of the planning process and will ensure that each day is more productive than the last. It covers:
- Ways to recognize what needs to be worked on and what doesn’t
- How to structure and formulate your days
- And how to prepare your plan each day
The bootcamp is free and is themed around productivity. It’s all about helping you make the absolute best use of your time each and every day.
That said, the bootcamp details everything that I noted in the breakdown except the section entitled Mandatory activities that is in regards to your large blocks of time. That’s because it’s simple enough to recognize on your own when you have work or need to go to the gym.
The actual hard part, the understanding what to do and when to do it, is what this bootcamp is all about. If you’re interested, you can sign up for my free bootcamp right here:
Daily planning tips
When planning out your day, there are some tips that would be helpful for you to keep in mind. Those tips are:
Tip #1: Do your planning in an uninterrupted space. You want to focus on your planning efforts. Don’t let distraction derail you and cause you to miss something important.
Tip #2: Make time for breaks. Many people forget just how important it is to take breaks throughout the day. So when doing your daily planning, make sure that you give yourself enough time to rest in between tasks.
Tip #3: Take advantage of technology. There are a lot of great resources – like these productivity tools and productivity apps – that you can use to enhance your productivity and make your daily planning even easier.
Tip #4: Don’t panic if you don’t get everything done each day. Things come up, plans change. As long as you’re putting in your full effort, don’t get frustrated if you can’t get everything done. Learn from the experience and revise your future plans to take into account those obstacles.
See this post as your guide to daily planning. Go through the various steps and create a plan for yourself that allows you to take advantage of your time.
Do more with your days, get more done, and make real progress in the right direction.
Moving forward, I have several resources that I recommend you check out. Topics including:
- How to create a better morning routine
- Morning routine ideas that you can incorporate in your schedule
- How to set and achieve daily goals
- How to be productive with your time each day
- Bonus: time management books
And again, when it comes to planning out your day, if you want something more in-depth, something that will walk you through how to create your own plan in great detail, I highly recommend my bootcamp that I touched on earlier.
If you’re interested, you can sign up right here. It’s completely free.