Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.
Start by setting the alarm for your daily planning session at the same time every day. Tack your new daily planning session onto an existing habit like drinking your morning coffee.
• Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can’t add “Get in shape” to your daily to-do list, but you can add “spend 30 minutes on my bike.”
• Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
• Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.
Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven’t crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.
A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That’s your priority.
‘Eat the Frog’ is an excellent productivity method for putting your highlight into action early.
It is often the task we most want to avoid (therefore, eating the frog). It could be a task that feels too big or makes us uncomfortable. During your planning session, put your “frog” at the top of your to-do list and assign a time. Then add your other tasks below.
With the Time Blocking method, split your day into distinct blocks of time. Then, dedicate each block of time to completing only a specific task or set of tasks.
Ensure to include blocks for things like lunch, breaks, and commutes for the most accuracy. If a task takes less or more time, make modifications to your list to gain a better understanding of how long tasks take.
Now that you’ve decided on the productivity approach, it’s time to pick your tools:
• A to-do list app: A digital task manager is great for those who are tech-savvy.
• A digital list is useful if you’re not into a task-manager but still want a digital solution, such as a word processing app or Google sheets.
• A digital calendar: Many people opt for a daily planning tool, like Apple Calendar or Google Calendar.
• A paper planner can take several forms, including notebooks, agendas, or specialized planners.
• A digital and paper hybrid: You might enjoy a paper first, digital second option where you transfer your to-dos from a paper onto a digital task manager for easy reference.
• Eliminate disctractions that pull you away from your objectives for the day. Work with most of your desktop programs closed, your phone on silent, and your notifications off.
• Track your time. Tracking your time can help you work more effectively.
• Try hourly check-ins. Regularly check in with yourself to notice if you’re moving through your day with focus.
• Readjust your plan. When unanticipated work arises, take a few minutes to readjust your plan for the day. Then work off of your new plan.
• Get to “To Do List Zero.” While you want to have zero tasks on your to-do list, it is an opportunity to take stock of where you’re at, re-evaluate your tasks, and re-plan them.