Planning. I know, I know we hear it all the time. If you plan your day life is simpler. I used to rail at the idea. I was absolutely no-one is going to tell me what to do, even if it is me telling me what to do! I wanted spontaneity. And I got it. Things popped up sporadically constantly and eventually I got bogged down by the chaos. In fact I got trapped by it. Ironically by not structuring my life I lost the very freedom I had been fighting to maintain. And along came the opportunity to structure my life and my days. And voila within a month or two I had more time, more energy, more breaks and was 10 times more effective. I felt freer than I had done for years. And I felt, and still do feel; in charge of my life, what’s not to love!
So how do you take charge and start to make order of the chaos? Well there are many brilliant books out there that will help you do this. My personal favourite is Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy, an absolute master of planning. Not only does he offer effective and simple ways to organise your day, he advocates smart energy use which offers flexibility and the opportunity for spontaneity to come into one’s planning. And that really is the key to being organised is to be structured and flexible. I have used my system for at least 10 years now and I find it really helps keep me focused and has the added bonus of showing me my achievements every month. Here I outline the basic strategy I use. It sounds a lot at first but once you put this system in place it soon becomes a quick and easy habit and makes so much of a difference to your time and energy in the day.
My 3 part daily planning system
You might be thinking 3 parts wh, what! But don’t worry you don’t need to make 3 to do lists per day.
Step 1 – The month list
The first part of the system comprises of making a monthly list of everything that you need to get done that month. And I am not just talking about what you have to do. I am also talking about the things you want to do. I have a notebook in which every month I use only 2 pages to fill out what I want and have to do that month. I divide it into sub headings of Work, Life (doctors etc), Me and Social. The Me part is really important it is sooo easy to forget ourselves in the planning so make you a focus.
Step 2 – The weekly list
The second part of my system is the weekly list. Every Monday with my morning barley coffee, I sit and make a week list from my month list. Its actually really satisfying to cross off what I have achieved in my notebook and write a list for my desk for the whole week. I get to check in with my progress and remind myself how awesome I am for achieving so much!
Step 3 – The daily structure
The last and final part is the daily plan. I actually have a table I made in word and have printed off so I can fill it out ( I love the old fashioned pen and paper) however you could do this on the computer or via an app. I simply block out my day in time slots and fill in the appropriate actions using my week list. The form I have made has areas pre-made for breaks and relaxation such as my 30 mins reading before bed or 15 mins in the massage chair when I get home.
After this I just follow my day’s plan. It really is as simple as that. Of course sometimes things go wrong or the unexpected happens so adjust. The important thing to remember is the 70% rule.
The 70% rule of planning
I got taught this by a danish pædagog. He said that it is almost impossible to achieve 100% of our goals per day, everyday. Expecting this is setting ourselves up for a fail and we eventually lose motivation. So his take on it is that by achieving 70% on our days wish list that is the same as achieving 100% of all our goals. It should be thought of as being the same accomplishment and having the same value as a 100%. By doing this it relaxes the mind. You feel less stressed by knowing its ok to achieve only 70% and after while you find that you are actually achieving much more than 70% but without stress.
Taking 5 to 10 mins every day to know what you are going to do and when in your day makes life easier. It frees you from the task of remembering everything in your head and frees you from making decisions when you are tired later in the day. By using the 70% rule and checking off your lists you become more grounded and conscious of your achievements. And if you plan for it you find that you will free up your time so that you too can enjoy your journey, re-energise and relax when you need it. Take 5 minutes for you today and see how much easier it can be when you make a plan.