A poet once said, “The most powerful time is when you are alone, thinking about what you are to do rather than the doing itself.” You’ve been reminded many times, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Daily Planning is the time you ought to set aside each evening to plan out and take control over the most precious resource at your command, the next twenty-four hours. Done correctly, Daily Planning is not an expense that will cost you time but an investment that will pay you back many times over the time invested.
Here are four important steps to follow each day during your Daily Planning time.
- Create a To Do list of everything you “have to” do and everything you “want to” do during the next day. If you want to manage it, you have to measure it first. Add actions steps to take care of your commitments and responsibilities but also include other action items to help you to balance your life more effectively and achieve more of your goals in each of your Seven Vital Areas: health, family, financial, intellectual, social, professional, and spiritual.
- Review every item on your To Do list and ask yourself three questions with regard to each item:
- “Is this the best use of my time?” If it is, plan to do it. If it isn’t, try to figure out a way to delegate it.
- “Is there a better or more efficient way of handling or completing this item?” For example, combining telephone calls and making them all together.
- “Is there anything I can do in advance to prepare for this task?” Do you need supplies or information from another to get it done?
Most of the time I cannot delegate my tasks, find a better way to do it, or do anything to better prepare for it, but I can always find a few ways to improve. Whatever those improvements are, add them to your To Do list as action items
- Review any Appointments and Scheduled events you have planned for the next day and ask yourself the same three questions you asked in step #2 above. As you review each commitment, determine if it is the best use of your time. Maybe you are scheduled to attend a meeting that has little value to you. Try to get excused. See if there is a better way to handle each commitment. For example, instead of an actually meeting with someone, are you able to fax, email, or call that person instead? Can you do anything to better prepare for it? If you have a doctor’s appointment, are there questions you can write down to ask the doctor. Whatever these improvements are, add them to your To Do list as actions items.
- Prioritize your To Do list. Place the number “1” next to the most important item on your list. Place the number “2” next to the second most important item. Continue prioritizing the entire list. You now have a To Do list of all the items you “have to” do, but, more importantly, all the items you “want to” do, including action items to help you achieve your goals and better life balance and make your appointments and scheduled events and To Do list items flow more smoothly.
The process of Daily Planning will save you more time in the long run than what you spend to do it and will increase your daily productivity each day.
* This post is based on personal experiences