When I first started using a to-do list years ago, I wasn’t all that impressed. I had heard so much about how it would improve my business and transform my life, and I couldn’t see the progress I had anticipated. Yes, my day was better, but only slightly so. What was I doing wrong?
What I didn’t realise then was that it’s not enough to write a to-do list; you must plan your day efficiently for maximum productivity. Here are few tips that have helped me do just that:
1. Planning ahead: Instead of wasting your precious morning hours planning the day, try writing down your (prioritized) to-do list the evening before. I’ve found that taking a little time at the end of the work day to plan the next day before shutting down for the evening, means that I can wake up in the morning and hit the ground running. It will amaze you how much you can get done before your lunch break. You should also prepare an overview of your entire week at the end of each week; listing things that need to be done each week helps you break them down into daily goals and activities more effectively.
2. Blocking every hour: Every single hour of your day should be accounted for. Some people may think that this leaves no room for the unexpected, but the truth is you’re more productive when your day is scheduled to the brim. The secret is to have a good mix of heavy and light, so that when unpredictable things come up, you know exactly what you’re going to drop and reschedule- the “light” things being first to drop of course. This way, if nothing comes up, your day will go as planned and you’ll be pleased with your productivity at the end of the day.
3. Allotting time to everything: You can’t plan only for things that affect your career or business and expect that plan to actually work. Productivity involves every area of your life as a person. So when you’re blocking your hours make time to call your parents, bond with your partner, play with your kids, pray, study the Holy Scriptures, fellowship, cook, read, visit, tweet, and very importantly, rest. Everything should be in your plan each week so that nothing suffers.
4. Learn to say no: When you have your week, and then your day planned, you can see at a glance what’s on your plate, and avoid saying yes to things you cannot squeeze in. If something comes up that you would absolutely love to do, you’ll then need to find something “light” to knock off or reschedule. The bottom line is you’ll be doing it consciously, instead of biting off more than you can chew simply because you don’t know exactly how full your hands are. If you don’t have the time or energy for one more thing, gracefully decline. It’s part of life and there’s no need to feel bad about it.
Why not start today by planning your tomorrow this evening?