Author: Lote Steina
Let me ask you a quick question – how many of you woke up this morning with a clear and structured plan for the day ahead? If you say yes – that’s great! If, on the other hand, you are like me and the majority of people, chances are you don’t have a detailed outline for the day ahead. The keyword here is “detailed” as most of us do have an overall picture of how the day is going to go. We wake up, eat, work, eat, work, maybe workout, eat, rest, and go to bed. This may be pretty crude, but in essence that is how most of us plan our days bar an additional task we have scheduled in our calendar every once in a while.
Now the aforementioned model is fine if you just want to get by and get the most essential things done. However, if you have long term personal, professional, or financial goals and if you want to maximize your chances of reaching them, efficient planning and time management are essential.
We often hear jokes about students who between work, school, and social life can only manage two without burning out. With good time management skills you can have all three and more. This blog post will show you how!
Like with so many things, making a ritual out of planning is key. It’s not enough to plan whenever you feel like it as those days may be few and far between. To be truly successful you also need a plan whenever you feel down and out. In fact, it is those exhausting days when you need a plan the most.
I suggest picking a particular time of the day to devote to creating your plan. Now there really is no best time for this as long as you have a concrete schedule or a plan ready by the start of your day. I personally like planning my next day the previous evening to wake up prepared and ready to roll, but I know this may not work for everyone. For some planning before bedtime creates unwanted excitement, even anxiety, that affects sleep. For others, evening rest is near sacred and should not be polluted by extra tasks. So try different times of the day to see what suits you best. From experience, I suggest these three as the best, most non-intrusive options:
It is also important to review your performance at least once a week. If your daily planning sessions take about 10 minutes, devote about half an hour one day a week to analyze and reflect. It will help you see how well you did overall and how all the small tasks and activities you did over the week neatly tie together with the bigger picture. This will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, but help you improve your long and short term planning skills.
Additional tip – don’t make planning your day a chore. Bundling it together with other habits, such as listening to music, eating breakfast, or drinking coffee, can make your planning habit more enjoyable.
There are two ways people usually approach time management. Most plan just to get by. This is pretty straightforward – your schedule helps you to make sense of everyday chores and responsibilities. You should, however, aim for the second approach – planning for long term success and improvement.
All of us should have goals. If you don’t, now is the time to start considering some. After all, the best goal-setting time of the year is right around the corner.
For those who do have clear personal and/or professional goals, your daily and weekly plans should be built around them. Make sure that the tasks you have planned not only align with the main objectives of your life, but that you take concrete steps and actions to achieve those goals.
To ensure that your goals are achieved, do these three things. First, break down your goals. Losing 50 pounds may seem like a daunting challenge, but it really is a sum of small daily actions repeated over a certain period. If you see that you can achieve this by eating 5 small meals a day and taking 15 000 steps daily, you can plan your day around that.
Second, use your weekly review sessions not just to look back on how you did, but also to come up with a general outline of what you are going to do next week. For instance, you may adapt your goal oriented actions to your regular life. This is essential not to disrupt your balance and maintain your sanity. Using our previous example, if you really have to eat 5 healthy meals a day, plan to set time aside one evening to prepare several food servings in advance. Or if you have to take 15 000 steps, but you also have a meeting with friends one evening, compensate that by adding 15 minutes to your evening walk the two following days.
Third, prioritize! You can have a bunch of long term goals, but try to focus only on one or two goals at a time. If you cram tasks related to all goals every week, you will still move towards goal achievement, but as the law of diminishing returns states – the progress will be far slower. In other words, in any single week you’ll see either meaningful progress towards a single goal or insignificant progress towards ten goals. To maintain high levels of motivation, our brains seek instant gratification and perceivable benefit – that’s why focusing on a single goal is more motivating than tackling ten. However, if slow, incremental progress floats your boat – go ahead!
Your daily plan does not solely have to be about the big goals. If you are looking for a motivation boosting schedule, you should also include a bunch of easy to do, quick tasks that take no more than 15 minutes. The more of these “quick wins” you integrate in your daily plan, the better you will feel throughout the day checking more and more of them off the list.
The great thing about quick tasks is that they can give you an energy boost at the time when you are running out of steam. Whenever you feel exhausted or stuck working on a big task, there is nothing more satisfying than getting a handful of things done. What’s even better is that many of these quick tasks can be combined with fun things. For example, do your laundry while listening to a podcast or prepare a quick meal with your favorite Netflix show in the background.
Finally, little things are a great way to bring some utility to your rest time. Sure, you are not obliged to do so, but, if you squeeze in an extra task or two while you watch a movie or are on a walk, I guarantee that it will sure feel great to add more achievements to an already good day. Not to mention – the more you do in one day, the more you can rest later.
I may sound like a productivity zealot, but the fact of the matter is that the better you plan your work and individual growth goals, the easier it is to find the right balance in your life. Better planning means less stress and potentially more free time to your hobbies, family, or social life. How many of us spend countless hours scrolling through our phones or procrastinating only to reap what we sowed later? And guess what – the consequences of procrastination rarely come at the expense of work or school. The things that suffer most from poor planning decisions are hobbies and relationships, the latter of which is about the most important thing one can have.
Nothing is quite as important as finding the right tool to help you manage your time effectively. In fact, jumping between a number of apps while planning and coordinating your day can be both distracting and discouraging. The good news is that BePrime combines and integrates all the different functions you will need to be the master of your day!
With BePrime you can set goals and tasks, tie them to your calendar, build habits, take notes, and do so much more! Understandable structure and good organization are the basis of almost every success story. With BePrime you have both of those boxes ticked. It’s just up to you to make something out of it!
All that being said, having a good old fashioned planner and a pen is also not a bad option. If not as efficient and convenient as BePrime, it sure is satisfying. Especially when you get to strike out tasks and chores throughout the day. 🙂