Plan a productive work from home day in the time it takes to enjoy your morning brew.
A quick method for planning a productive, relatively smooth running day when you’re building a small business from your kitchen table.
If your aim is to stay on track with your goals and get stuff done, then this simple routine for daily planning is well worth testing out for yourself, especially as it can be done in the time it takes you to enjoy your morning brew - mine is French pressed freshly ground coffee, served black ;-)
So grab your favourite cup and pull up a chair while I make space at the table…
My Daily Planning Routine
This is the routine I've found the best results with so far. It's great for those who work from home but it's also suitable for anyone who has autonomy over how they spend their time to get stuff done.
Assumptions Before we Start…
I’m working on the assumption that you already have a system for logging appointments, projects, tasks and goals. I use: a quarterly insert for basic future planning; a monthly insert for scheduling appointments, task, reminders and so on; plus a week on two pages for figuring out how I’ll achieve goals and projects around commitments.
Next up, you’ll need something for organising your slice of 24 hours on. You could use a simple sheet of plain paper or a note pad, but I like this daily insert available from Keshinomi because I designed it specifically for the job of daily planning and staying accountable. It's the running schedule with appointment times in hourly slots, with 30 minute divisions, that makes this style of insert a winner for me.
And before you shoot me down with “but my day isn’t full of appointments!” hear me out - if you’re working towards a goal or project a timed schedule is great for time blocking your day because you can allocate tasks to time slots. This is the foundation I use for keeping myself accountable so I get things done and without wasting time.
Another thing I love about this insert, beyond it’s clean and easy to follow design, is the inclusion of space for my top 3 priorities and a focus for my day, as well as a check list for accomplishing the focus, all of which comes in handy later on.
So let’s put the kettle on, brew up a cuppa and get planning…
Step One: Scan the Weekly Plan
I scan over my weekly planning insert for any appointments, errands or task deadlines. I also check out my priorities for the week, as well as a goal or project that I’m focusing on. This will give me a bird's eye view of how the week is looking in terms of the day ahead and after. I’m essentially looking for where the hectic days are versus the empty days I’ll use to dive into deep work.
Once I have my bird’s eye view I pull out a fresh daily insert from my planner and note down appointments in their relevant time slots as well as any task deadlines or errands I need to complete for the day.
Step Two: Cross Reference the Month and the Year
Next I check my quarterly and monthly inserts - generally all important tasks or appointments should already be transferred to the weekly insert, this step is for double checking nothing has been missed.
Side Note: Steps 1 & 2
I use paper planner inserts for weekly, monthly and quarterly planning, but this could easily be a weekly desk pad planner, Google Calendar, a monthly wall calendar with planning space or whatever you use to note your appointments and to-dos. The main point for these steps is to get an overview of what you have going on.
Step Three: Check in on Business Goals and Scan Inbox
The next step is to check my content planner to make sure I’m on track for the weekly newsletter production or YouTube video, if there’s anything that needs doing I look to see if I can incorporate it into my day either as the daily focus or a task in a time slot.
I also use an inbox system call The LTP Method, which is a simplified version of David Allen’s GTD system. Generally I check over my inbox at the start of the week and add relevant items to my priorities list or goal for the week, but occasionally I’ll do a daily check-in to see if there’s anything I need to address or items I could work on if my day looks empty.
Step Four: Outline the Focus for the Day
If it’s an empty day for deep work I’ll move on to mapping out the focus for the day. The focus will be the main chunk of work relating to my goal or project for the week, this could be content creation, business development or personal growth. This is where the checklist section of the insert comes into play as it forces me to break a big task down into manageable chunks.
Alternatively, I may choose to use the empty day for relationship building, such as meeting a friend for a walk in nature, or home improvements like tackling a cupboard that needs re-organising.
What ever the focus, it will always have a brief outline or 'why' and will be allocated to a time slot, preferably a couple of hours in the morning. I'll also break it down into action steps if applicable, because who doesn't love the satisfaction of using a highlighter to cross things off a checklist?
Bonus - Step Five: Highlight Completes
And talking of the highlighter, I also cross off each time slot on the schedule as I complete tasks. That way, at the end of the day, it's quick for me to see where the time went and what needs to be bumped over to another day.
I can also easily see where I over or under estimated the time required for a task because I usually ‘bump’ a task up or draw an arrow down to represent extending a task, this helps me plan better next time.
Daily planning keeps you on track by adding a layer of time and task accountability, so at the end of the day you feel more productive because you can instantly see exactly what you did and how your time was allocated.
But what if you don’t have a planning system in place?
The steps above assume you already have a system for planning your week, month and year, as well as a way of defining your goals and/or projects. But if that’s not the case and it’s something you need a little extra help with then book a FREE 30 minute consultation with me to brainstorm a planning system built just for you.
Until next time Planner Friend remember there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback!
Undated Daily with Cover and Notes, printable planner insert from Keshinomi (paid members of Planning with Chloe can download this insert for free during April 2023).