I talk a lot over here about the importance of scheduling to ensure you’re not only getting your daily tasks done but also that you’re making progress towards your “big picture” goals. Today I thought I’d give you a little behind-the-scenes look at how I plan my days and weeks, so you can see if I’m walking the walk.
I’ll share the exact process I go through to ensure I’m making the most of my time and always progressing towards my personal and business goals, including the tools I use and how I break down my days.
There are two things that have to be in place before I sit down and plan my days. I’ve covered them in previous posts so here’s a quick run-through (pinks are links so check those out if you’re unfamiliar with a particular topic):
- I need to have a master task list which is an amalgamation of my brain dumps and everything that comes up during my mind sweeps. If I don’t know what I want to do, I’ll end up working on things that aren’t that important to me, or just adding random tasks that pop into my head in the moment, potentially forgetting more urgent things.
- I also need to have done a monthly review to focus my mind on what I want to achieve that particular month. Again, it’s so I’m working towards my goals and not just “off the cuff”.
Having these in place gives me a sense of purpose and direction, and the reassurance that I’m not forgetting or neglecting anything important that might otherwise slip my mind. And then I can get on with the business of planning my days.
Each weekend, I plan the coming week. Why plan a whole week in advance? It gives me a good overview of what I’m supposed to be doing, what stage I should be at, and the overall progress I’m making. It also ensures I’m not writing a new to-do list every single evening — getting it all done in one go is more efficient and allows for more cohesion, so there’s a certain flow to my week. And it means I’m not blindsided by something later in the week. If I can see something is coming up on a Saturday, I’ll know to pencil in the prep time earlier in the week.
I use TeuxDeux to plan my days because it allows for a huge amount of flexibility (in that I can drag and drop things where I need them, and edit a lot quicker), and because I can add tasks to specific days. It also allows for recurring tasks so I don’t have to re-type things like “change the towels” every week.
The first thing I do is check my calendar and the family calendar for any upcoming events. Those are scheduled in first.
Then I re-read the monthly review I’ve done to remind myself of my current priorities. I keep these in the forefront of my mind.
After that, it’s simply a matter of slotting everything into the right space.
Here’s how I break down my weekdays:
BREAKFAST TO LUNCH:
My daughter is in pre-school during these hours so it’s when I get the bulk of my work done. It’s for all the tasks that require a lot of focus and attention, like writing, recording, and editing. Usually I use a timer to keep me on track, so a typical morning will comprise of 45 minutes of work followed by 15 minutes of light housework or other tasks that get me up and moving and away from the screen (making phonecalls, prepping food, putting on a wash load, filing paperwork, etc.). And repeat. That means that, on a good morning, I can get over 2 hours of focused work done and about 45 minutes of other tasks. If I get nothing else done that day, I still consider that a win.
LUNCH TO DINNER:
My daughter will be home so the workload will be significantly lighter here. I try to include as many things as possible that she can get involved in, like running errands, doing the grocery shopping, folding laundry, sweeping the floors, preparing dinner, etc. This is also when I’ll try to do some smaller work tasks, like replying to comments and emails, scheduling some social media posts, taking and editing pictures, etc. Overall, I try to keep this time as ‘loose’ as possible so that I can spend time playing and painting and creating with my little girl.
DINNER TO BEDTIME:
Once dinner is done and the dishes cleared away, my husband is usually free to take over childcare duties. This means I can finish up some work and tie up any loose ends from the day. After that, I know I’ll be tired so I work on small personal goals, like updating my Bullet Journal, reading, and decluttering and updating digital files, folders, and software.
So yes, three very distinct parts to my day.
(On weekend days, I generally sacrifice a lot of focused work in favour of personal tasks. Or, if my parents are looking after my daughter, I try to tackle large jobs like decluttering, deep cleaning, or… *shudder*… taxes.)
When I’m slotting tasks in, I remember my 4 to-do list hacks to ensure maximum efficiency: batching, multiplying, dividing, and multi-tasking.
As part of this process, I also leave one or two afternoons free for “catch up”. I’ll invariably fall behind on tasks at some point in the week, so I like to have a lot of buffer time. Otherwise I risk feeling overwhelmed and demotivated.
And that’s the week sorted. Thereafter, it’s just a matter of doing and reviewing.
Each evening before bed, I take a minute or two to review my list from that day. With any luck, all or most of it will be completed. I look at any remaining tasks and ask myself if there’s any reasonable chance I’ll get them done before bed. If so, I do them right away.
For the items left undone, I scan the rest of the week to see if they’ll easily slot in somewhere else. (That’s where the “catch up” time comes in handy.) If so, in they go. If not, but they’re urgent or important, I see what can be bumped to a later date, and replace it. Otherwise it’s back to the master list to be re-added at a later date.
If it’s something that affects the rest of my week (for example, if I have tomorrow morning set aside for editing a video but I didn’t get around to recording it today like I’d planned), I take the time to re-jig a few things so it all fits again.
And there you have it, that's how I plan my days to ensure I'm getting the most out of each day and always working towards my personal and business goals. PHEW! It sounds like a long and tortuous process but, in reality, it takes very little effort on my part. Most of my weeks follow the same basic routine (again, big props to TeuxDeux for automatically re-adding all those recurring tasks when I tick them off) so all I have to do is add in a few extras along the way and work around anything that might disrupt the flow.
Of course, all of the above is predicated on the basis that I don’t get sucked into a social media black hole for half the day.
(It happens more regularly than I’d like to admit.)
To learn about how you can plan your perfect day to get more done, check out my e-course, the Productivity Power-Up. To see the full curriculum of everything you’ll learn, as well as watching a free preview of the introductory module, click that image below and then, when you’re ready to make your dreams a reality, go ahead and sign up.
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