Planning your day is so important, it boosts focus and productivity but a big list of things you need to do can feel overwhelming. I thought I would share how I like to plan my day which inspired this A5 Productivity Planner.
Breaking Down Tasks
I am a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix, it helps divide your to-do list into smaller chunks. Setting clear priorities to help order tasks according to their importance and urgency
- Important + Urgent
- Important but not urgent
These tasks don't have a deadline but they will get you closer to your goals. They can easily be put off so it's important to plan them in and break down the goal into small manageable actions to do on a daily / weekly basis to achieve them.
- Not Important but urgent
If possible, these are tasks to delegate. If you do not have someone who works with you or like me you’re self-employed these tasks may be something you can outsource like an accountant. If you can’t delegate work maybe you could delegate household chores to someone else so you can focus on work.
- Not Important + Not Urgent
Skip these tasks. If they are not important or urgent do you really need to be doing them? Otherwise they need to be in one of the other categories.
Here’s a helpful diagram to visualise this process
How not to feel overwhelmed
Each day I plan to do only three tasks. Three is a manageable amount and won't leave you feeling overwhelmed. These should be your important tasks you identified above.
If you have time you can do other tasks from your Important/Not Urgent list.
What you don't get done can be added to your list for tomorrow.
Focus on one task at a time
Having prioritised your to do list it is easier to take one task at a time. If you are having trouble focussing on work, then I would recommend checking out the Pomodoro Technique. It splits work into 25 minute sessions with rest breaks in between.
It’s a proven way to increase productivity and remain productive for longer. I use this method if I’m finding it difficult to get started on something. Just starting and focussing for 25 minutes allows me to get into a task and often I’ll continue working. Setting a time limit is also good for the jobs you hate or if you find yourself procrastinating.
Take regular breaks
I find 25 minutes isn’t always long enough and breaking my flow can sometimes make it hard to get going again but regular breaks are important to maintain focus and productivity so I aim to put the kettle on every hour or so.
To help focus we need to reduce distractions....
- Mute notifications on computer and phone
- Put phone out of reach
- Schedule time to check and respond to emails
- If you work in a noisy environment you could put in headphones and maybe listen to music if it helps you focus.
Some of these may not be possible all of the time but I put my phone in work mode which means even if I pick up my phone I can’t procrastinate on social media but I can still receive and make calls.
I don’t have notifications on for my emails but I’ll set aside time during the day to check them.
I like having music on in the background when I work and I have a playlist especially to motivate me if I need it.
Summarise your Day
Look back at what you have achieved and give yourself a high five!
There will always be tasks that don’t get finished or even started, put them on your list for tomorrow or schedule them for another time. Don’t feel bad when this happens celebrate even the small wins so you feel motivated for another day.
At the end of the day before I switch off, I find it helps clear my mind if I have made my list for the next day. It’s written down and out of my head so I don’t have to think about it until tomorrow.
Time for ME
The most important part of the day - self care. Whether that's an exercise class, reading before bed or time to work on personal goals.
If you don't have time on busy days just planning time to sit with a cup of tea and be mindful without scrolling on your phone can be enough.
Before I had therapy, I thought self care was just another thing I had to fit in my day and for only when I finished all my work but to do lists never end! I learned we all need time just for us and something to look forward to, not only does it help our mental health but will enable us to be more focussed and productive.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Why not try out these techniques with some new stationery? and let me know how you get on.
Check out the range of stationery available here
If you use techniques that I haven’t mentioned please let me know in the comments.
Have a great day