3 Hacks for Planning Your Day

Have you ever tried and tried to stick to an hourly schedule but found it impossible?

Do you ever get to the end of the day and half your things are still on that to do list?

Have you ever stayed awake worrying about all the things you need to do tomorrow?

Yeah, me too! Today I want to share with you 3 Hacks for Planning Your Day. These are three things that have revolutionized the way I approach my schedule + daily to do lists.

1. Paper vs. Memory

I used to keep a running tab in my mind of the things I needed to get done. Remember earlier how I talked about staying awake worrying about things you need to do? I used to lay in bed worrying I would forget something that I needed to do! I finally realized that I just am not very good at remembering it all! I now keep runnings lists a variety of places (work lists are on my computer, blog post ideas in a notebook, other projects on a note on my phone) so I don’t have to remember it all! This has been so freeing!

2. Routines vs. Schedules

Some people love their schedules, and that’s so great! But in my life currently (and I’m guessing many of you are in the same boat), a daily schedule where I plan out each hour just isn’t possible. My days are too different and unpredictable to possibly plan for how I am going to use all the hours. Instead of trying to stick to a “schedule”, I embrace the beauty of routines. My morning routine is probably my favorite. I even have a few different routines, for my different kinds of mornings: bus mornings, hotel mornings, + home mornings. I try to plan to night before things like the following: what time I will get up, when I will have quiet time, what exercise I will (or will not:) be doing, what time I need to be ready for the day, and whether I will be eating breakfast on my own or with others.

If you’re struggling to stick with a “daily schedule”, I highly recommend building some routines in your life in place of the schedule.

Last evening, I figured out what time I needed to be ready for the day, planned what I wanted to do this morning in the time I had, and set my alarm for a time that would give me a decent night’s sleep while still giving me enough time to do my morning things.

3. Top 10 vs. Everything

When I used to sit down in the morning to write my to-do list, I would write down everything I could think of that I should, could, wanted to, or was supposed to get done that day. And it was just too much. I ended up overwhelmed, discouraged, and frustrated more days than not. I simply wasn’t being realistic. Most of us can’t get done everything we can think of every day!

Here’s what I did: I started categorizing my lists and numbering them. I choose the top 10, or 20, or whatever number! These are the things I decide are most important for that day. I usually have a running list (like I mentioned in #1) of other things I can do if I get all the things on my list done with time to spare. But I specifically try to make the list doable. I want to be able to get the whole list done, unless something catastrophic or completely unforeseen happens- and there are days when it does.:)  But most days, I can get it done!

The number is different every day according to the things I need to do and how long various tasks will take, but the goal is two-fold: 1. To organize the items into categories 2. To keep the list realistic. I try to watch the number…..if I have 15 or 20 items in each category, then I probably need to re-evaluate and cut some things!

Today, my list looks like this:

Hotel:

  1. call new hire
  2. send scheduling email to new team member
  3. schedule employees for this week
  4. work short evening shift at hotel
  5. check work email
  6. do payroll

Home:

  1. make lunch for the family
  2. refrigerate fermented cabbage
  3. help unpack bus from San Antonio trip
  4. put dahlias in sand
  5. do a short ministry task for Dad
  6. cook + freeze big batch of black beans

Personal:

  1. send invitation for bachelorette party
  2. run 3 miles
  3. write a blog post
  4. organize bedroom
  5. do Scripture memory
  6. get package ready to send

 

And now I’m off to complete that list!

I’d love to hear what you think!

What is your biggest struggle in planning your days? Would one or all of these hacks be valuable to you?

much love,

Allison

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12 Comments

  1. I love this post. It’s so important to prioritize. I often get stuck doing things that are not as important as others. It’s amazing what you get done in one day. Tha would probably take me three 😉 What time do you get up / to bed? I’m always tempted to stay up late to finish a project.

    1. It’s just about being good stewards of the time we’ve been given. It’s something I love!
      As far as sleep routine, that depends on the season for me. My current goal (but it certainly doesn’t happen every time!) is to bed at 9:30-10 and up at 5-5:30. When I am traveling or working evenings, it usually looks different. One thing I am trying to work on this year (that I didn’t do so well at in 2017) is adequate sleep. Getting to bed by 9:30-10 is a big goal for me but when possible, it does make a huge difference!

  2. I am definitely a procrastinator, and so far the only thing that has worked to keep myself accountable is lists!
    Having a to-do list helps me a great deal in planning my day/week, making the most of what little spare time I have, and even find a little more time for fun extras!
    Thanks for sharing, it is nice to know that I am not the only person struggling with lots of things to do.

  3. These we some great tips, Allison! Thanks for sharing!!! Making a list with must do, want to do, and would be nice to do items helps me, as does scribbling our a list the night before. That way I have my day “planned” for me when I wake up! Also, starting each day with prayer and quiet time helps set the tone for my day. 🙂

  4. My level of productivity is something I’ve been trying to work on a lot lately, because a few months ago I just wasn’t getting anything done! Writing a to-do list is my favorite tip, because I’m a natural planner and list-maker 🙂 I have not tried to implement routines much, so thank you for the encouragement to do that! I know that I definitely need at least a morning routine :/

    A big help for me in having more productive days was to spend time an hour in prayer at the very end of the day, right before I got into bed. I believe that helped me prepare mentally and spiritually for the day ahead. It was definitely refreshing and calming!

  5. What a great post!

    I love routines; I have 2 built in to my day, one for morning and one for evening so barring emergencies my day starts and end calmly and predictably. My routines also mean that 2 prayer times are built into my day, my way of ensuring they remain priorities (I went through a phase of not having this time and made too many excuses, I used routines to make the changes I needed to make).

    I always make a note of what needs to be done, if I don’t then my life turns to chaos.

  6. This is very encouraging, Allison! I smiled when you said “lay down in bed at night worrying that I will forget what to do the next day”. That’s been happening to me lately! <3

    – Lilly

  7. I’m a high-schooler and have always tried to make hour-by-hour schedules which never worked for more than a day because of the differen’t “unscheduled” things happening.

    I like the checklist kind the best, where I can just check off things that are more general. I’m always being reminded not to make my life “complicated” with a whole bunch of schedules. 🙂

  8. Your hacks might be what I need. I tried to keep a mental list in my head especially with school, but I realized it’s alot easier to stick to a schedule written out.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!