Planning your daily to-dos can seem like a daunting task (pun intended). Where do you start? How granular should I get? What about tasks that come up throughout the day? I’m not going to tell you how to put together a complex system of colors and notebooks though. What I am going to give you are a few tips to build yourself a foundation for your daily planning.

Lists are your friend.

It’s been shown that writing things down, with pen and paper, make you more likely to accomplish your goals. So I try start every work day by checking my email and making a list of the actionable things I want to get done. Every project gets broken into little tasks that I can realistically work on that day. Even sending emails get written down — this makes it easy for me to see that, yea, I did send that mockup over to the PM for review. Another thing I’ve learned to do is to write down the little things that come up (drive-bys much?) even if I don’t plan on doing it that day. Then the next day, when I’m making my new list, I can roll those things over.

The reasons for my method are three-fold:

  • I can satisfyingly check off items from my list throughout the day and feel mega accomplished.
  • I have a log of what I did that day to refer back to (sometimes I’ll even note the time if I’m feeling productive).
  • I have record of when a drive-by task came to my attention (don’t forget to note who it was, too).

Fellow Bee Camri is also a list-maker and, for her, it’s a way of life.

“Like most people, I can’t keep everything I need to do in various aspects of my life all in my memory. So I write lots of lists on paper and digital to ‘brain dump’ everything, and then I prioritize everything by time so I always know what action to take next.”

Give yourself a bird’s eye view.

I love this trick from Emma over at A Beautiful Mess that helps you plan the coming months at a high level. You just take a sheet of paper and divide into 9 equal quadrants (one for each of the 9 upcoming months) and list out any BIG stuff (deadlines, travel, weddings, that type of stuff) that’s coming up. That’s it. This gives you a bird’s eye view of the coming months of your big initiatives and projects so you can be sure to plan yourself enough time to get stuff done and not overbook yourself because, doh, you forgot you were going on week-long vacation next month. I keep mine in my daily notebook so I can refer to it quickly.

Use tools that make it fun.

I used to take my notes in pen or pencil which works fine and gets the job done. However, a few years ago, I picked up a rainbow pack of felt tip pens. I don’t know what came over me, but the thought of writing in felt tip just sounded so good, and I needed to get them. Best. Decision. Ever. Now my notes are in a variety of colors, and my doodles have more life. I don’t use the colors to code my notes at all — I can’t ever remember what colors go with what topics — I just pick a color to match my mood and go with it. Using colorful pens encourages me to write things down which, in turn, helps me remember things.

Now go forth this fine Monday and make all of the beautiful lists! What tricks do you use to keep your daily planning simple?

You can also check out my Mind + Life Organization board over on Pinterest for more tools, tips, and ideas for keeping yourself organized.

My advice? Keep your daily planning simple.

Jamie Aucoin

Designer @ Spiceworks

Category: Organization
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