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How To Schedule Your Day: Basics of Planning

Time management starts with setting goals and priorities. Then you plan your activities around these priorities, in order to make progress. This article will teach you the basics of planning.

Can we manage time?

As we cannot actually ‘manage’ our time some people prefer the term “task management”or “life management”. We cannot control time, we can only manage ourselves and our actions. One of the basics of time management is to organize your life so that you can reach your goals more quickly and easy.

What if you don’t like to work with complex organizers and schedulers? These sound boring and time-consuming. How to implement planning for time management without using these dull items?

Luckily, nowadays there are lots of (free) tools out there. Ranging from to-do list apps for your cell phone to chrome extensions to log your activities and so on. These tools can be way more intuitive and portable than many traditional schedulers and calendars. Digital time management tools enable you to start planning without large investments in organizers or other stuff.

How to schedule your day: the benefits of a good planning

As humans our memory abilities are somewhat limited. Generally speaking we can only hold 5 to 9 items in our short term memory. Which means we will have to put some other thoughts or tasks on paper. Freeing your brain from trivial stuff can help you create room for other, more important things.

How to schedule your day: the essentials

If you want to start planning and scheduling these are the tips you need. Daily planning will help you focus, on a day to day basis, on your most important tasks. Daily planning will help you realign. You might need to rearrange tasks, as they have changed due to circumstances or other actions.

There are some general rules for planning:

  • Never schedule more than 60% of your day, in this way you leave some gaps for unexpected emergencies or other urgent matters.
  • Plan you most important tasks first. Plan them during the time you are most energetic, for some this is early in the morning, for others this is somewhere in the afternoon.
  • You might want to plan according to the 1-3-5 rule (1 big task, 3 medium tasks and 5 small tasks), this will stop you from cramming your calendar.
  • Batching similar tasks will help you get more done in less time. Doing the same tasks in certain periods of time will help you increase your personal productivity.

GTD and daily planning

Daily planning will also help you save time. A lot of disorganized knowledge workers have turned to the Getting Things Done methodology for increased personal productivity. If you use a planning to clear your head and place reminders, your mind will have more space for creativity. GTD focusses on the principle that you should move tasks out of your head, onto some external source (paper, computer). In this way the mind is freed from remembering everything that needs to be done, and can actually concentrate on completing those things.

Getting Things Done is a good place to start if you want to learn more about planning your time. These are the basic of GTD:

1. Collect

Collect everything that has your attention. Capture the stuff that you need to remember or take action on. You can capture this input in a physical inbox, an e-mail inbox, a notebook or on your desktop, whatever works for you. This capture process will help you clear your head and externalize all the things your mind would have trouble remembering.

2. Process

Next, determine if a task is doable. If it is, and it can be completed within 2 minutes, do it immediately. If not delegate or defer the task.

3. Organize

If a task does not require action, define the next step. Does the item need to be filed for future reference? Can it be deleted? Or should you keep in in a “someday/maybe” list for future action?

4. Review

Last, review all outstanding actions, projects and so called “waiting for” tasks (tasks you delegated). These items should be reviewed at least once a week. During your weekly review you can make sure new tasks are captured and that everything is up to date.

Do you want to learn more about the basics of time mangement? Download this free eBook “How To Become More Productive In Less Than 10 Minutes”

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