Everyone knows the stress of feeling like you can’t get everything done. Sometimes, it feels like there just isn’t enough time. It can seem impossible to figure out how to plan your day so that you fit everything in.
When you have a somewhat scary-looking to-do list, it can be tempting to simply give up. But you can manage to get everything done with a good, solid plan.
Get everything done with time to spare by following a few tips on how to plan your day.
How to Plan Your Day
1. Start the night before
Mornings can be hectic enough just trying to get out the door to go to work, so the best time to create your plan for the day is the night before. You have to think about everything you want to do before the day starts, or else you’ll start on the wrong foot. The night before your big productive day, think about everything you want to do, such as your biggest project & priorities.
Related: Brutal Basics of Time Management
2. Create your to-do list
Writing stuff down really does help. Not only does it help you get your thoughts organized, but the list can be your reference for your ultra-productive day. Buying yourself a planner can help here. Again, try to do this the night before so you can get a jumpstart. Add in estimated start and completion times for extra brownie points.
One of the most difficult parts of figuring out how to plan your day is prioritizing, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Write down everything you want to do in order of when it needs to be accomplished, and try to complete the tasks that need to be done sooner first. For example, paying the bills that are due tomorrow should probably be higher up on your to-do list than planning your friend’s surprise party next month.
You should also tweak your list a little in regards to task difficulty. According to Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, you should “eat the frog” first.
Yes, literally eat the frog. Kidding, kidding. It essentially means suck it up and get the hardest task done early on. That way, you’re not constantly dreading that hard task and the rest of the day seems like a piece of cake. You can also reward yourself with the tasks you enjoy doing afterward.
4. Plan your “Einstein window” for important projects
Todd Dewett has referenced what he calls the “Einstein window”—or a two to the four-hour window each day where you’re at your problem-solving peak—as a very important aspect of time management.
Figure out when during the day that you’re mental ability peaks and plan on eating your frog then. If you’re having trouble figuring out when your Einstein window is, it might have a lot to do with whether you’re an early bird or a night owl.
5. Work out in the morning
Before you start figuring out when you want to complete each task, schedule working out first thing. Even if you weren’t planning on adding exercise to your repertoire, working out will give you energy, endorphins, and all those other great E words that will help motivate you to keep ongoing.
Plus, if you were planning on working out, then later in the day it gets, the more tired you will become—and the more likely you’ll be to put off your workout for another day with an excuse like “I was so productive today that I should give my body a break.” Nice try, dear.
Related: 7 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise
The question of life—how to plan your day—doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. By thinking beforehand, using a planner, working out in the morning, prioritizing, and eating the frog first, you can plan it all out and get everything done like the superhero you are.
Photo by dmachiavello
Originally posted 12/2013 and updated 11/2014.