Do you have two minutes to spare?
You can plan your day fast if you do your homework. When you set up your planning system, you can create a daily plan in less than two minutes. The key to keeping your daily planning to two minutes or less is the preparation and planning work you’ve done before. Then your daily plans can be almost automatic and you can remain confident that you’re doing everything you need to be doing. And nothing will be forgotten.
You need a plan.
Did you know you need a plan for planning? You need a system and a routine and a plan to manage your time wisely. When you have a lot to do, it’s easy to get bogged down in “putting out fires” instead of being proactive and working a plan.
If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been running around doing stuff all day, and then at the end of the day wondered what you did all day, you need a plan. Creating a plan helps you stay on track, and work on the projects and tasks that are important to you, as well as all the other mundane things you need to do every day.
You need the right tools.
You need the right tools to plan your day fast. The right tools and the right system makes everything easier. Every person is different, so your style of planning tools will be different, but all systems have the same elements:
I recommend having more than one kind of calendar. But at the bare minimum, having at least a monthly calendar will help you stay on track. I like having a year-at-a-glance calendar, as well as a weekly calendar, for different views of my time.
2. An agenda
I recommend something portable, that you can carry along with you everywhere you go. It can be digital or paper. This is where I keep track of my reminders, tasks, and upcoming appointments. I also transfer from my chore planner and my meal planner to my daily agenda. My agenda is my hub, and my daily reference book.
Some people like to keep their household papers as part of their agenda. For example, some will keep a copy of their latest bill, medical information for everyone in the house, clothing sizes and shoe sizes, along with a potential gift list for upcoming special events. I personally don’t keep that in my agenda, but you can use it for whatever is going to be most useful for you.
3. A notebook
I recommend always carrying blank paper or a notebook with your agenda. It can be just stuck in the back, or a separate book. Having a notebook helps jot down the info that may interest you or you want to remember, but isn’t specifically a task or an appointment. For example, I’ll put phone numbers and websites in my notebook, from businesses or people I meet while I’m out. Or I’ll jot down the name of a book or movie I want to see. (It’s also useful as a distraction for wiggly kids, when you have to wait somewhere, unexpectedly!)
4. A journal
I recommend keeping a hardcover journal, near your bed or your coffee maker. I use a journal to record all the moments I want to remember in the future. Things like funny things the kids said, or special moments I had with a friend go in my journal. It helps me focus on the positive. I’ll also put in here the things I’m concerned about, or questions I have. Putting it on paper helps get it out of my head. Keeping a journal helps me sleep better, and as a busy mom, I don’t have time for insomnia!
You need the right technique.
How will you plan your day fast, to make it quick and easy? There are few things I practice regularly to keep my daily planning to a minimum.
1. Brain Dumps
I regularly empty my brain of all the niggling little things that clutter it up. Putting it on paper helps me organize my thoughts, create my long term plans, and keeps my head clear for my daily tasks. For me, this looks like sitting down with a blank notepad, and just free writing all the mental notes-to-self and the someday-I-want-to’s. One thing reminds me of another thing, and it all just goes on the list. I don’t try to organize, or connect them together, or prioritize. And I don’t cross anything off right away either! I just get it out, so I can see it.
2. Planning routines
In order to plan effectively, you have to have a time for it. I make planning a part of my regular routine. This means that I’m sitting down to plan every day, and there are certain times of the month that I do more in depth planning. It’s built into my schedule, so there’s no last minute surprises or sacrifices. I plan to plan!
3. Review and Update
A huge part of planning is looking things over regularly. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we make our plans, and then never look at them again! That defeats the purpose of planning. In order to make planning worth the time, you have to review your plans regularly.
You also have to update them frequently. Plans do you no good if they don’t reflect your current reality. If the last time you made any kind of weekly plans was before Christmas last year, well.. none of those plans have anything to do with summertime. Keep your plans updated and look them over, to get the most out of them.
If you’ve done your homework, your daily planning is almost automatic.
If you’ve got the right tools and systems in place, then every day, your daily planning session isn’t a lot of work. It’s a matter of reviewing the calendar, the to-do lists and the menu, and choosing accordingly. All the hard work is done before it comes down to your day-to-day life.
Plan your day in two minutes or less.
Keep it simple. Your daily plan should reflect your real life, not what you hope you can do. If you’re in a busy season of life (such as having a small child or two around), then you probably shouldn’t be planning to deep clean your entire home in one day. It’s not realistic. Instead, try something like Daily Minimum Maintenance, to stay on track with your daily plans.
What does your daily planning routine look like?