A Simpler Daily Plan Green and GoldI am such a list girl – something I learned from my mother when I was in Primary School. I was overly stressed because of Grade 7 school exams and a hectic ballet festival lineup, and ended up not being able to sleep or concentrate on what I was studying. My mom sat with me late one evening and wrote down every single “To Do” item that was buzzing around in my head, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential it was. She then divided that list up into various days, helped me create a reasonable exam study timetable, and sent me off to my bedroom to get started.
To this day, I keep forcing myself to write lists – I have even been known to write down an already-completed task, just so that I can happily cross it off! The fact remains, that when I write lists – I am more productive. It is that simple.
Over the years, I have toyed with various list methods – phone/ iPad apps, in my diary, on desk pads, yellow Post-It notes stuck around my screen and on my steering wheel – and all of them have worked in some way or another. But what I found to be helpful THIS year, is a daily printable To Do list that I can throw away after 24 hours. I print them up in bulk so that I always have a fresh, clean, blank page of possibilities to fill in each morning. In fact, I like them so much that I
put a ring on it created a FREE printable PDF for you to use. And yes, it has gold sparkly bits on it…
Here’s why it works so well for me:
First thing I do when sitting down at my desk each morning, is quickly go through my mailbox. That way, I can see if there’s anything that needs to be prioritised for the day ahead. I then treat myself to a strong cup of steaming Nespresso coffee (which I shamelessly inhale like a drug addict on the way back to my desk), before sitting down to write up that day’s list.
Step 1: I allocate my Top 5 priorities for the day – my five (or less) MUST-DO items that I commit to getting done that day – writing deadlines for clients, invoicing, follow ups, phone calls – whatever I feel are my Most Important and Most Urgent tasks for that day.
Step 2: I then move on to filling in the rest of my list – anything else (large or small) that I need to do, pay, buy and people I need to contact.
Step 3: I fill in the bottom four fields: friends/ family members that I want to connect with that day (a reminder to say hi, a birthday greeting, a catch up email or scheduling a future lunch or dinner together); what I am going to read/ listen to while I eat lunch (read this blog post for the names of a few TED talks to get you started); my ten minute challenge for that day (featured in this blog post); and what we’ll be having for dinner that night (any necessary items can then be added to the “to buy” field).
Step 4: The eight water droplets are a reminder to drink eight glasses of water (which I hate with the hatiest of hates – but because I am a compulsive List Ticker Off-er, the visual reminder keeps me glugging them down throughout the day. When I’m not running off to the loo.)
All in all, it takes just a couple of minutes and yet sharpens my thinking early on in the day and helps me focus on what is necessary. It also helps prevent the procrastination of harder or more tedious jobs, because I have my top 5 priorities listed very clearly at the top of the page, so it makes sense to get them done first.
Another benefit I have discovered is that if I am between tasks/ meetings/ school runs and have just a few minutes to spare, I quickly scan through my list and see what quick items I can get done in the few minutes I have left – phoning the bank, making a few online payments or messaging a friend. Time I might otherwise have wasted scanning through my inbox or checking social media, is now put to good use – which means that later on in the day, I am far more relaxed and “present” with my family because my head is no longer overflowing with all the things I still have left to do.
Finally, when I am stopping work for the day, I leave any unfinished tasks listed on that day’s list, ready to be transferred to tomorrow’s brand new To Do sheet. Once those items have been transferred to the new list, the previous day’s one can be thrown away. Happy days!
This may absolutely not work for you – you might have your own system! But if it sounds like something you could use, then click here to download a FREE printable version of my “Simpler Daily Plan”. You’ll find this (and many other future printables) under the “PRINTABLES” heading on the navigation bar. Feel free to pop by and print more, or save it to your Desktop if it’s easier.
- Launching into my day without taking the time to plan my tasks hardly ever works. I end up reacting to situations instead of being proactive about what I would like to accomplish, which creates stress later on in the day because I am so behind.
- Just because it’s a To Do list doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty!
- I don’t need to fill each day’s list to overflowing (but in the earlier days of using lists it certainly helped getting all my thoughts down on paper).
- “Blocking” items into TO PAY, TO BUY and TO CONTACT sections helps me get them done in one go – a real time saver.
- Adding the important items – especially people I’d like to connect with that day, keeps me focussed on what’s really important. If I write it down, it reminds me that relationships need to be a priority.