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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Why Planning Your Day is Vital for Productivity (And How to Do It)

Why Planning Your Day is Vital for Productivity (And How to Do It)

Aren’t you amazed at how some people can manage to do everything they want within their planned time? Do you want to find out their secret? Planning your day isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

If you want to be someone who can actually achieve what they plan, you need to start spending some time planning your day. Don’t worry, today you’ll find all the A to Z of why and how to plan your day.

These tips for planning your day will work perfectly for students, as well as career-oriented individuals. What’s even better is that you’ll learn all the expert tricks of how you can improve your productivity by planning your day accordingly.

Doesn’t it sound like a one-stop solution to all your work problems? That’s exactly what it is. So, keep reading to find life-changing tips!

Why You Should Start Planning Your Day

Before we move onto the fool-proof formula of planning your day, first let’s convince you on why planning your day is a task you should spend time and energy on.

You’re Prepared

With a plan in mind, you know what’s coming. The responsibilities of the day are clear, unless an unexpected or urgent task comes up.

The point is, when you head to war prepared, there’s a higher chance of victory. However, if you’re attacked without a clue, you not only have to fight harder, but there’s also a very low chance of your success.

If you wake up knowing the things you have to do, you’ll be more motivated. Since there’s less time to procrastinate, you can’t do anything but focus on work. Your subconscious is prepared, and so you take on the tasks with full motivation.

This actually works wonders to get you to finish your tasks of the day promptly.

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Allows You to Prioritize

You can work all day long without accomplishing anything. This is a very rookie mistake that you need to avoid. How, you may ask. Well, planning your day is the answer.

When you plan your day, you have the opportunity to prioritize your work in a way that ensures that important jobs are fulfilled[1].

Without a plan, you start doing what comes to your mind. It is a very haphazard way of doing things because nothing is connected or coherent.

On the other hand, when you proceed with a plan, you can give more time to what needs it the most. If, for example, you’re going through a tough time in life, you can prioritize self-care that day. The great thing is that, since you have a plan, you can still squeeze in the urgent tasks.

So, it’s a win-win situation where you get what you want without compromising on your responsibilities.

Enhances Time Management

One way or the other, productivity always comes down to one thing: time management.

What better way to manage every second of the day to its full potential than planning it out?

When you schedule your day, you’ve basically put every minute to use. Task 1 is designated for one time slot, task 2 for another, lunch-time for one hour, and so on.

All the needs and jobs are taken care of. Yet, nothing overlaps. Personal commitment, work deadlines, and everything else are perfectly planned out throughout the 24 hours. You don’t feel burdened, and you don’t waste any time.

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Creates a Structured Life

There are days when you just want to wing everything. It’s great to be spontaneous once in a while, but it’s not something you should do every day.

As fun as this lifestyle sounds, it won’t be long before it starts taking a toll on your mental health. Surprises and urgencies are not that fun to deal with when they start affecting your personal life and work efficiency.

Planning your days brings an order. It makes your life systematic. Don’t confuse this with a boring lifestyle. A structured life means that you’re clear about what you want to do. It doesn’t mean you’ll follow the same routine every day. However, whatever routine you want to follow is pre-planned and well thought out.

Not only is it an effective way to boost your productivity, but a structured life also helps you get rid of bad habits while strengthening good ones.

How to Start Planning Your Day Perfectly

It’s now time to finally talk about the easy yet effective method of planning your day for productivity.

1. Start With a Goal

The first part of your plan is to have a clear goal.

Never proceed with your day’s plan unless you have a goal for the day in mind. Daily goals are important when it comes to keeping you on track and helping you achieve something at the end of the day.

Your day’s goal should be in line with your week’s goals so that you’re moving forward instead of wandering around.

With this goal in mind, plan your tasks accordingly. Make sure that each task leads to the accomplishment of your goal so that by the end of the day, you have fulfilled what you have in mind.

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2. Look at Each Day as Part of a Week

Although you’re planning your day, don’t look at it individually. Consider one day to be 1/7th of your week. Similarly, do not look at one day differently than your entire month.

The point is that each day should contribute to your bigger plan of the week, month, year, and life. It should all be cohesive. Ultimately, everything you do in one day should be coherent with what you want to achieve in the longer run.

Don’t forget to keep the future and the bigger picture in mind when planning your day. Also, keep the previous day and the coming day in mind. For example, if a task from the previous day was left incomplete, make sure to carry it on the next day. If you know you have a deadline in the coming days, schedule a part of it in your current day.

3. Categorize

A day is comprised of much more than just work. You have personal commitments, work deadlines, social life, house chores, and so much more. A perfect plan should include all these categories.

One major issue is that a lot of people tend to focus too much on work and too little on themselves. For the perfect daily plan, don’t forget to add in some personal time. Some alone time is necessary for mental strength, creativity, reflection, and other important things that help you keep going[2].

Having categories in your plan will allow you to balance it all out. You’ll know you have to set aside a certain amount of time for one category. This way, no part of your life will be neglected.

4. Be Flexible

Don’t make a plan that’s too stringent. You never know what surprises life will bring in the coming day. Therefore, always have enough room in your plan for adjustments.

Mark the things that cannot be moved around at all so that you know you need to get them done no matter what. This way, you won’t have to think long and hard to make room for the unexpected urgencies.

Be flexible enough to accommodate an urgent work task, a mishap, health issue, uninvited guest, and other similar things.

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5. Maintain Balance

One day is no more than 24 hours. Don’t overburden yourself by wanting to achieve more than possible.

A balanced plan contains no more than 1 or 2 big tasks. The rest of the day is divided into 4 to 5 smaller tasks. Some of these tasks are more time-consuming than others. Similarly, some are harder and more challenging, whereas the others are a piece of cake.

Also, maintain a balance between fun and boring tasks so that one day isn’t all mundane and the other is full of excitement.

Add in a few optional jobs that you can do if you find the time. However, even if these optional tasks are left undone, it won’t harm you.

To keep the balance intact, make sure to add something to each category that was previously talked about. Once again, don’t forget to include some time to relax. If you wear yourself out one day, you won’t be able to perform well for the rest of the days in the week.

Conclusion

By now, you’re most likely convinced that planning your day is worth it. Now, it’s time for you to make it a habit to plan your day the night before so that you wake up with a clear perspective of what you need to do.

It hardly takes half an hour each day to make a thorough plan. But, in the longer run, it saves you way more time. This is the best way for you to reach your goals quickly and efficiently.

If you seek growth and development in your life, you shouldn’t skip planning your day from now on!

More Tips on Planning Your Day

Featured photo credit: STIL via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How To Protect Your Focus From Being “Robbed” By Notifications and Social Media

How To Protect Your Focus From Being “Robbed” By Notifications and Social Media

Between a cell phone that’s always ringing, a plethora of social media apps vying for your attention, and a steady stream of text messages, it probably feels like you can never get a moment of peace.

Think about how many times you’ve been working when a notification pops up on your screen. The message might be important, but more often than not, it’s just spam that pulls your focus away from your project.

Imagine all the times you’ve been in a meeting and felt the distinctive buzzing of your cell phone. Putting a smartphone on vibrate doesn’t make it any less disruptive for its owner. You instantly divert your attention from the other human beings in the room to the device in your pocket.

Distractions make you work harder

Studies suggest that the average American worker is interrupted every three minutes and five seconds.[1] An estimated 6 hours of productivity are lost every day to distraction. When someone is interrupted, they not only have to deal with the disruption, but then they have to use even more time and energy to get back into their work.[2]

It’s not only annoying to feel like you can never situate your mind on one task, but it also keeps you from doing your best work. The greatest ideas require time for mental processing. You have to do research and dig deep to come up with exciting ideas. If your focus is shallow, your ideas will never be able to develop to their fullest potential.

Our concentration naturally fluctuates

It would be nice if you could simply disconnect from the internet and have a consistent ability to concentrate, but that’s not how your brain works.

If you were to visualize your concentration throughout an 8-hour work day, it might look like this graph.

Throughout the day, you will experience peaks and valleys in your energy levels. You might feel a jolt of productivity after you go for a walk or have a cup of coffee, but there will also be points in the day–like right after lunch–where you’ll feel sluggish. You create your best work during periods of high energy and focus.

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Protecting those peak periods ensures that you can maximize your work time. When you constantly shift your focus back and forth between your work and distractions, your brain has to work extra hard to get back on track. Opening your Facebook page or replying to your friend’s What’s App message is almost never worth the productivity cost.

You will still have peak moments of productivity when you face interruptions, but the peaks will not be as high. This is because jumping between items wears you out. You lower your potential productivity every time you give in to distraction.

To be successful, you have to root out anything that stands in your way. The inability to concentrate will affect your work performance, but you can take control of the situation.

How to maintain focus in a sea of disruptions

Being able to give your best at work doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect from the world entirely. You can still enjoy the connections you have through technology, but there are a few ways that you can keep them from having a negative impact on your work.

One of the first things that you can do to minimize your distractions is set aside a time for them. Give yourself windows of time when it’s acceptable to look at Facebook or respond to messages.

Start by listing out the things that most commonly distract you. Maybe you get sucked into the rabbit hole of Facebook if you get a notification. Perhaps you find that your friends texting you throughout the day pulls you from work. Whatever it may be, write it down.

Then, set aside a time slot in which you are free to use the apps as you please.

Plan to use your distracting apps during times when you need to restore energy. As you can see from the graph, times when you need to restore your energy are also times when you may not be as productive.

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Instead of giving up peak energy times, sacrifice the time when you aren’t working well to engage with technology. When your recovery time has ended, jump right back into your work.

It might seem counter-intuitive to make time for these distractions during your day, but if you create a schedule that protects periods of peak energy, you will actually boost your productivity. Instead of being inundated with notifications or thinking about the next time when you are allowed to check your messages, you’ll have designated times for that.

Rather than shift your attention at random, you can focus fully on the task at hand until it’s your time to play on social media or check messages. Using this approach can help you regain a lot of your brain power because you won’t have to waste it on refocusing. You’ll simply do less important tasks during natural breaks in your day.

Set up a system to limit distractions

Just because you vow to check your messages and look at social media during certain times doesn’t keep distractions from happening. You’ll need to set up a system to keep disruptions at bay.

You can’t always control when someone is going to send you a message or when you’ll get a notification. You can start by adjusting your settings. Most apps allow you to opt out of notifications. Stop push notifications from non-essential apps.

For everything else, you need a different plan. We may be able to avoid opening social media tabs, but sometimes the messages still pop up on our phones. At the same time, most of us want to continue to use social media to stay connected and receive important information.

Try planting some trees with your concentration

The Forest app helps you train your brain to avoid distractions during work time. You can use Forest on your desktop or smartphone. The app works by enabling you to establish an amount of time during which you do not wish to be interrupted. You can adjust the amount of time from 10 minutes up to several hours.

Refer back to the list of distractions that you made earlier. You can take the websites and apps that drain your time and add them to the Forest’s blacklist.

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    The amount of time that you wish to stay off of distracting websites and apps is called a “planting session.” When you decide that you want to “plant a tree,” the countdown timer starts. If you access a blacklisted website during the time when you are supposed to be working, the app will remind you that your tree is still growing. You will have to decide whether or not you want to kill your tree, which is harder than you might think.

      When you can successfully stay off of distracting sites for the allotted time, your tree grows, and you get coins. The coins will allow you to unlock other types of trees.

        As you continue with your work session, you can see a countdown timer and an animation of a tree growing from a seed to its full splendor. Usually Forest also includes an inspirational saying to keep you on track if your focus starts to drift.

          To make the impact of your efforts even greater, success in Forest also gives you the option to plant a tree in real life.

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          This simple visualization can help you break the bad habit of checking your phone or accessing websites that disrupt your thought processes. When Forest asks you if you would like to “give up” and kill your tree, most often you will realize that the reason you were heading to the blacklisted website wasn’t that important anyway.

          Sometimes you just need a small reminder to stay on task. Use Forest during your peak productivity times so that you don’t waste the most valuable parts of your day.

          You have to identify the distractions before you can stop them

          You may be wondering how much of your peak productivity time you are losing to mindless distractions. The only way to find out is to take a closer look at your habits. Notice the times when you seem to do your best work. Name the sources of notifications and interruptions that decrease your attention. After you have done this, use an app like Forest to cut out the distractions.

          Using Forest will not prevent you from being tired, and it won’t keep you from staring off into space, but it will make you think twice about wasting time on sites that distract you.

          When you are able to experience a distraction-free work environment, you’ll recognize how much more you are able to accomplish. You’ll be able to do your work more efficiently, and you won’t feel the fatigue of constantly re-centering yourself. Soon, your desire to stay focused will be stronger than the temptation to click on your notifications.

          Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek/ Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

          Reference

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