Tips to plan your day so you can finally feel on top of your to-do list.
Imagine how you’d feel if every evening when you reflected back on your day, you felt genuinely great about it?
You’d ticked off the most important items from your to-do list. (Whew!) You’d arrived calm and on time to everywhere you needed to be. You felt happy and connected to everyone you were with. You felt grateful for another amazing day – and looked forward to another one tomorrow.
Sounds good, right?
The secret to having this feel-good factor when you fall into bed each night involves a little careful planning at the start of each day. Instead of diving straight in and doing whatever’s in front of your face, it’s time to Design Your Day.
Every since I began doing this a few years ago, life just gets better and better. I’m more focused, waste less time and I feel more mindful as I go about my day to day stuff.
I scrapped my old daily planner (which only overwhelmed me) and created my own.
Print out a copy of the Design My Day Action Sheet. (There’s a color version or you can grab one in black & white so it won’t suck up your printer ink.)
I’ll talk you through each section here:
1. Give gratitude.
There’s a small box here for you to jot a short note about whatever you’re feeling particularly grateful for today. A daily practice of feeling gratitude for what you already have, brings more good stuff into your life. Promise!
2. Choose your feelings.
We spend too much time thinking of what we have to do and not enough on how we want to feel.
You can’t always choose what happens in your day, but you can choose the way you feel about it. Choose a few words that best describe how you’d like to feel today.
If your day ahead is jam packed with a lot of places to be, you might choose to feel: Calm. Peaceful.Mindful. With those desired feelings guiding your day, you’ll get it all done in a better frame of mind.
For a family day at home, you may choose to feel: Connected. Present. Playful.
Husband driving you nuts? You might want to feel: Open. Loving. Kind.
(Danielle La Porte is the queen of getting clear about your desired feelings and you can get her fabulous book The Desire Map here.)
3. Schedule in events and prepare for success.
Refer to your calendar and jot down where do you have to be and when. What can you do to make it all go smoothly? Do you need to take snacks and swimming bags for the lesson, forms to the appointment, retainer to the orthodontist, eco bags to the supermarket? Park it all by the front door so you’re not flying around trying to do it last minute.
Leave some gaps so you can slot in some other things… Could you prep dinner earlier? Run an errand on the way to school? As you Design Your Day, think about these kinds of things too.
4. Identify your 3 most important tasks
Your 3 most important tasks (M.I.T’s) are the tasks you most want or need to get done today. No matter what else you do today, these are the things you will get done. This means doing them early in the day before you get caught up in other easier, more fun tasks. (Or Facebook.) Get into the habit of doing your 3 M.I.T’s first before doing anything else on (or off) your to-do list. This means you can stop beating yourself up for not getting it done again today!
4. Add a few more things from your to-list
Once you’ve done your 3 M.I.T’s, what else would be great to get done today? You might not get to all (or any) of these, but it’s good to have something to aim for. Remember – even if something’s not urgent yet, it’s good to get it done now before it becomes urgent. (Read this if it all feels important and urgent.)
5. Phone calls and emails
Instead of making phone calls throughout the day, note the calls you need to make and do them all at once. Emails can eat huge chunks out of your day if you’re not careful. Stay out of your inbox as much as possible and set a time limit once you do go in. Write down anyone you need to email and send those mails before you get caught up in fresh ones. (I know, easier said than done…)
There’s a nice white space at the bottom for all of those extra thoughts and notes that pop up throughout the day. You can refer to those when designing your next day. You even might want to design your day the evening before.
Important note: A mother’s life is un-pre-dictable. Just when you’re getting started on your first M.I.T, you get a call from the school nurse and have to drop everything. Or you’ve fully prepared for success, but road works make you ridiculously late for the swimming lesson anyway. Try to see unforeseen setbacks as opportunities to model flexibility to your children. The earlier they learn to adapt to changed plans the better. Just do your best and stop beating yourself up for not getting it all done. Never be a slave to your to-do list. Always find some joy in each day and know that what needs to get done will. The most important thing is to feel happy. Cuz when mama’s happy, everybody’s happy!
Take Action: Print out several Design My Day Action Sheets and commit to doing this for one whole week. Then let me know how you’re kicking ass on your productivity!