Planning is the key to have a fulfilled and successful life.
There is so much freedom in planning.
You can get to your dream destination more quickly if you plan for it.
However, it can often be quite a struggle to actually stick to the things that you’ve planned.
And let’s not even begin to talk about all the post-its you have laying around the house.
Can I get a raise of hands? Yes, I see you.
I totally get it.
There is always a million things going on at once; things, people, Netflix, and YouTube get in the way and shift our schedule sideways.
We have good intentions but the tasks we plan are left untouched.
We have to re-focus, get back in the productive zone, and pick up where we left off.
It’s not easy when life gets in the way.
In this article, I’ll take you a little behind the scenes and show you how I plan my days, and give you the best tips for planning your day.
I’ll teach you how to plan your day and stick to it without the overwhelm – like a true #GIRLBOSS.
I love planning.
This is going to be so much fun.
Let’s dive in!
- How To Take Action On Your Dreams
- 8 Things I Do Before 8 AM To Achieve My Goals
- Productivity Tips For Bloggers With Full Time Jobs
How To Plan Your Day And Stick To It:
Busy bee? Pin this article for later.
1. Identify Your To-Do’s
The very first step to planning your day is to identify the things you have to do.
Your to-do’s, tasks and activities for the day.
I love to do something called a to-do download.
It’s much like a thought download but focuses on your to-do’s instead.
Simply pour out all your to-do’s, things that are lingering in your mind, tasks that you are procrastinating over and so on.
It does not have to be specific for the day you are planning for – but anything you have going on at the time.
A good time to do your to-do download is on Sunday evening.
2. Important vs Urgent
After you’ve poured your heart out on a piece of paper and you’ve got all your to-do’s scribbled down, it’s time to prioritize.
- Which tasks are important?
- Which tasks are urgent?
It’s important to separate these two factors because all though it may seem like they’re the same – they are in fact not.
If we don’t differentiate between what is important and urgent, overwhelm and procrastination will for sure pop up more than we’d like.
An important task is something that MATTERS to you, something you want that is aligned with your goals, dreams, and passion.
These are the action steps that will get you the results you want.
An urgent task will try to make you think it’s important when it’s really not.
Urgent tasks steal our focus and attention in the present moment.
- A phone rings.
- You get a text.
- A notification on Facebook you feel you have to respond to.
- Doorbell rings.
Of course, I am not talking about emergencies – that is different.
When you plan your day, focus on what is most important to you and do not react to urgency.
Prioritize your tasks in order of importance and ALWAYS start with the most important task first.
3. Choose Your Planner
Choose a favorite planning tool and stick to it.
There is a quote that goes a little something like this:
“You don’t need another planner, you just need a plan.”
Pick the planning tool that speaks the loudest to you and don’t think too much about this step.
- If you’re all about digital – go digital.
- If you’re into pen and paper – go physical.
I’ve listed my favorite planning tools below if you need a little help and direction in this area.
So, scroll down if you’re curious.
4. Focus On Your Results
Bring back your to-do’s from your to-do download and schedule them on your calendar.
Always be focused on your goals and the results you want to produce, and not the task in itself.
Schedule these results on your calendar, ahead of time.
Here’s what I mean:
- Good example: Finish draft of new blog post
- Bad example: Work on the blog
See the difference?
Be very specific about the results you want to achieve during your day and get them done no matter what.
It’s not about the time and effort you put in, it’s always about the results and value of what you produce.
There’s a difference.
You can spend HOURS on your blog and not get anything of value done.
Always focus on the results you want to achieve and you’ll feel and be much more productive.
Just a little life hack for you.
5. Schedule Your Downtime
Planning your day can quickly become a little overwhelming and feel like your whole calendar is packed with to-do’s, tasks and no breathing room.
Hold that thought.
Be sure to schedule the fun stuff too.
Schedule your downtime, social activities, when you eat and sleep (yes even the time you plan on being asleep).
If you do this, you will never feel bad about hanging out on your couch for an hour or two watching Netflix, and you won’t resent your plans or your calendar.
If it’s on your calendar, it’s a go!
Schedule a little buffer time between each task (30 minutes or so), so you have time to take breaks, re-focus and rejuvenate.
6. Give Yourself Less Time
Give yourself less time to produce.
Don’t give yourself too much time to do something.
If you give yourself 10 hours to write an article, it will take 10 hours.
If you give yourself 1 hour, it will take you 1 hour.
I know this may seem impossible but if you commit and stay uber focused, you’ll be mindblown when it comes to how much we are capable of producing in a short amount of time.
We often overestimated how long something will take.
This is how you manage your time better.
It’s like Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
7. Plan According To Energy Levels
Plan your day according to your energy levels.
Do your most time-consuming tasks during your prime time.
Personally, I am more creative and inspired in the mornings, so I devote my mornings for blog post writing, creating digital products and whatever else requires my undisturbed attention.
Other tasks like creating images in Canva or replying to emails requires less of my energy, so I save these tasks for the afternoon.
I try not to be on any social media or in my inbox before noon.
Figure out when your prime time is and plan accordingly.
8. Color Code in Google Calendar
I love me some color coding in Google Calendar.
This is how I plan and organize my days.
I have a different color assigned to different tasks and activities.
- Blue for my online business.
- Yellow for downtime, sleep, and self-care.
- Purple for my 9-5 job.
- Pink for new blog post creation.
Here’s a sneak peek of how a day can look in my world.
As you can see, I plan down to the dot and I am very specific about the results I want to produce in the given timeframe.
I always honor these commitments.
I’ve made a date with myself and I’m going to show up.
The screenshot below shows what my day looks like when I have the day off to work solely on my business (I go ALL in as you can see) and on a weekday when I also have to be at my 9-5.
A little tip is to fill the description box for each task with bullet points for quick ideas that will further explain what needs to get done.
For example, under “finish first draft of the blog post” I could also write:
- Research topic
- Outline draft with important key points and takeaways
- Find the best keyword possible, optimized for SEO
9. Plan In Advance
Plan your days in advance.
If you plan in the moment, your brain won’t feel like doing whatever it is that you plan.
It simply will not feel like it – that’s just the way your primitive brain works.
Grab a cup of tea and take the time to plan your day the night before.
I usually plan out my days on a weekly basis on Sundays.
Now of course – things don’t always go according to plan because life happens, but I find it so much easier to produce the results I want if I schedule WAY ahead of time.
If you plan ahead you will always know where your focus should be at any given moment.
10. Identify Your Top 3
When planning your day the night before, identify your top 3 to-do’s.
These are the tasks that if you complete, you will feel satisfied with your day – no matter what.
It’s a great way to avoid the overwhelm of overscheduling (because, let’s face it, planning your days and color-coding in Google Calendar can get really addictive and it’s easy to go overboard).
The rest of your to-dos will be AMAZING if you achieve, however you shouldn’t schedule more than 3 important tasks for every day.
11. Keep Your Calendar Open All Day, Every Day
If you’re a digital gal, it’s easy to neglect your calendar and simply close down the tab.
Keep your calendar open all day and set reminders for each task.
Google will notify you when it’s time to jump onto your next task.
Also, add a shortcut to your browser so you can easily find your calendar if you close it by mistake.
Other Tips For Planning Your Day & Getting Things Done
- Work in Pomodoros – Set aside 25 minutes of focused work, take a short break and resume. Repeat this process x4. Learn more about the Pomodoro technique here.
- Eat the frog – Take one bite of the elephant every day. If you’re working on a big project it’s easy to procrastinate, but if you continue to show up every day and eat the frog, you will eventually get to your end-goal. Just start, even if just for 10 minutes. This really helps me when I’m working on digital products, for example. I show up and just start.
- Calendar batching – Batch themed tasks (f.ex blog post writing) and overproduce in a certain amount of time frame. Alternatively, you can go try themed days. Blog post writing on Mondays, digital products on Tuesdays, marketing focus on Wednesdays and so on.
- Design A Not-To-Do List – Eliminate the non-essentials and write up a not-to-do-list. This is an effective way to know where your focus SHOULDN’T be. Create this list and throw it out. FREEDOM.
- Delegate, automate and eliminate where and when you can.
- Unplug – Unplug your phone, notifications, WiFi, TV and whatever else tries to steal your attention.
The Best Planning Apps & Tools Out There
- Google Calendar – Obviously my go-to digital planner 🙂
- The Productivity Planner – If you are into physical planners, this is THE best planner for daily and weekly planning.
- Trello – A project managing tool, amazing for organizing to-dos.
- Asana – A more advanced project managing tool. However, when you get the hang of it and all its features, it’s truly amazing.
- Todoist – A to-do list and task manager app.
Before You Go
Getting prepared and planning your days in advance is key to becoming a pro at time management.
I understand that it might feel totally daunting to plan in so much detail, but it’s just a matter of managing your mind, getting some real perspective on the time you have, so you can focus on the things that matter most to you.
Planning is the only way to get results fast.
So, by now you should hopefully how to plan your day and stick to it. 😍
This post is so helpful, thank you so much, let’s see how it goes!
This is a very comprehensive article! I especially love how you described important vs urgent tasks. Best explanation I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely saving this to come back to and reference. I’m terrible about tying my actions to my goals. By the way – planner nerd here too. And have you seen those transparent sticky notes? Sigh.
Thanks so much Brenda! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! No I haven’t seen the transparent sticky notes! *Must check out immediately* !!
HI MiA, thank you for this write up. please could you update your monthly planner it still saying 2020.
Hi Ade! Thanks so much! The planners have been updated 🙂
I love Trello but hadn’t thought of color coding in Google Calendar. That’s a great idea! I sometimes find it helpful to use a digital and physical planner. The digital planner works as more of an overview of the day, and with a pen and paper planner, I can add more details. Thank you for this post, really appreciate the ideas!
Yesss! I’m all about Google Calendar for the overview, and then I have my physical planner (the Productivity Planner) for day to day tasks and adding little notes and details. Thanks for reading, Alex! <3
Awesome article, Mia. I’m always learning from you. Thanks for consistently overdelivering on value!! 🙂
You’re so sweet Charlene! Thank YOU! 🙂
Hi Mia! I loved this post. I found the tips extremely helpful and totally relate to the “Work on blog post” type of task haha I gotta work on that! Also, 100% agree with overestimating time. I tend to do this a lot and end up procrastinating half the time lol
Thank you for this post and all the work you put into it. I just started a blog last month and your blog has been great! I finished the free course today and really want to purchase “Dreamer to Blogger” but I need to do some saving up first! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!!!
Thank you so much for the sweet words Valeria! So happy to hear you’ve enjoyed the Start Your Dream Blog Challenge!! <3
Your blog is awesome. I am a fan of yours !! Actually, I became your fan after I read this post (this was my first post that i ve read of yours) The imp vs urgent is what i can relate to the most as it happened with me too but i didn’t know bout u that time and because of that i did the urgent task and left the important task..i’m regretting it now. Thank u for every tip u gave….I, being a highly disorganized person, now is organized. Your tips are so very much useful ♡♡
Hi lovely! Aw I’m so glad to hear that you found this post helpful! <3
These are beyond amazing tips! Love how detailed this post is. 🙂
Thank you Ashley! 🙂
This is an amazing post! You have so many great tips on here! I’m super guilty of focusing on the task rather than the result! I really gotta work on that! Thanks for posting!
Thank you Teya!
Trello really is a LIFESAVER at work and at home.
I love that you can share access to your boards of to-do’s and tasks with other people – it’s a great way to keep track of daily goals & projects. I love using it for grocery lists, packing for trips, gift ideas for the holidays — anything really!
(Plus, the color coding makes my overly-organized heart so happy!)
Trello is amazing! Thanks for reading Emily <3