If you are wondering how to plan your day when you can’t even seem to find the time to think straight, you are in the right place. I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve said things like:
- “I don’t have time to make a grocery list before going to the store…”
- “I don’t have the time to prioritize my to-do list”
- “Plan? Are you kidding me? When in the world would I have time to do that?”
- And my personal favorite…”I’m too busy to plan.”
If you are anything like I used to be, you are so busy cutting down trees that you don’t have time to sharpen the axe. But here is the thing…a sharp axe cuts down trees a lot quicker.
I didn’t make up that analogy myself, but I love it.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
He is onto something though.
Here is another gem that I find myself saying a lot.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin
Why you Absolutely MUST Make the Time to Plan
We all want the biggest return on investment for our energy, right? Of course we do. I have some good news for you. For every minute spent planning, you will save as much as ten minutes.
It only takes about 10-15 minutes to plan your day, but that 10-15 minutes will save you at least two hours in wasted time throughout the day. Yep – I’m serious.
I studied a lot about efficiency as an engineering manager. I watched how much time my team of engineers wasted every day because they didn’t have a plan or strategy for the day. It wasn’t their fault. It was my job as a manager to help them manage their time.
When you consider how helpful simple planning can be in increasing your productivity, it baffles my mind how few people practice it every day…especially because it is so stinkin’ simple. All you need is paper and a pen.
I implemented a FIFO lane for my engineering team, and our productivity went through the roof. I now use a similar strategy for my personal and professional life. It is simple, and it is genius. So I can help you understand how to plan your day as well!
How to Plan your Day with a List
I promised you it would be simple. I promised you would save loads of time. So I will no longer accept the excuse that you don’t have time to plan.
Here goes –
Always work from a list.
Yep – that is it. When something new pops up, add it to your list (or queue as I call it in the FIFO lane) before you do it. Then you work them one at a time until they are complete.
Even the most expensive and fanciest planners out there are all based on writing a list.
Simply working from a list will increase your efficiency and output by 25%! Plus we all know how great it feels to cross things off of a list. So if you were wondering how to plan your day when you are too busy to plan, that is all. Create a list.
Let’s go a little deeper.
Different Lists for Different Purposes
You need a few different lists.
- Master List – this is your catch all list. Write down everything that you can think of that you want or need to do in the future. Any time something new pops up, put it on this list. You can sort it later.
- Monthly List – Right before the beginning of the month, write out a list of tasks that you need to get done that month and prioritize them. This will probably take a bunch of items off of your master list.
- Weekly List – This list will contain all of the tasks you want or need to accomplish for the week ahead of you starting with the most important. This is the list you will attack every Sunday.
This technique is so unbelievably simple, yet it can drastically change your life. As you work through your three lists, you will begin to feel empowered. You will feel in control. The overwhelm will start to melt away. You will be amazed at how much you can get done.
Soon you’ll start to have lists for everything.
- A list of grocery items will save you up to an hour aimlessly walking up and down the aisle at the store.
- Starting a list every time you begin a new project will ensure you get done on time and without error.
- A chore list will get and keep your house clean as well as organize who is in charge of what.
- I could go on and on…
So the next time you are wondering how to plan your day when you are just too busy…I urge you to give it a try. Carve out some time that very first day to create a list. After that first day, you’ll save so much time that you’ll never have to say you are too busy to plan again!
Alright…now it is your turn. Grab your pen and paper (or iPhone or whatever else you want to use) and start making lists!
Let me know how much time you save! I can’t wait to hear.
Kick your Bad Habits for Free!
Grab your FREE copy of "The Top 3 Productivity Mistakes You are Making (and How to Fix Them)"