Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Then why does proper planning so often get ignored? We can spend hours a day, or week, toiling away at various task never stopping to ask why we chose to spend our valuable time on them. Today I'll give you an overview of my ideal weekly/daily planner system and I've included a free printable pdf of this exact planner at the end of the post.
This will only be free on the blog for the next three weeks before I launch my shop with all kinds of fun and useful PDFs for purchase, and eventually actual products! So stay tuned for that.
Even with a background in wood working, I often failed at the old measure twice, cut once advice. And I'm no stranger to winging it in the kitchen. However, through moments of failure, I have recognized the importance of basic work and life planning, and aligning monthly, weekly, and daily tasks. The goal I'm always striving for is balance in all things, so I hope sharing my planning system will help you achieve that as well.
I've witnessed many organizations and people skip the planning process only to realize they've waisted valuable time and resources at the end of a project or have remained stagnant in their business. If you want an effective planning system for your organization, check out my post about OKR style planning and goal setting, used by many successful people. Today's post focuses on guiding you through my daily/weekly planner system that includes planning your personal and professional life to help you get more done, and actually remember to have and enjoy free time.
I've taken my favorite and most effective planning elements and created the guide included at the end of this post. The guide is in booklet form, and includes one weekly planning page, and seven daily planning pages, waiting to be printed at your convenience. Keep reading below to find out how to use the planning guide effectively.
Three important keys to my planning method
I braindump all of my personal and professional to-do's for the week in two quick lists.
I choose 1-3 daily tasks that I must get done - if there are more, you aren't really focusing.
A reflect and reward section to remind myself what I've accomplished that day and a reminder to celebrate the small wins.
Now that we've discovered the key secrets to success with this planning system, let's review each element with a few examples so you can print your booklet and get started.
You'll start with the weekly planning page that says "Monthly Focus" at the top. This is simply an overall goal you want to achieve or area you want to focus on improving that month. It can be work related like, get another client, or if work is going smoothly maybe its focusing on balance and creating more time for yourself or your family. You'll want to make sure some of your weekly and daily tasks align with your Monthly Focus.
The real goal of this planning system is to strive for balance in your life, so remember to include both personal health and wellness, as well as work and family obligations.
Weekly Planning - The Braindump
Often times you can relieve stress and anxiety by simply writing down all of your obligations so you no longer have to think about them, or worry you'll forget them. That's where the "Weekly Braindump" comes in handy. I don't have to worry about the order I can just jot down anything important that needs to get done, and tasks that align with my Monthly Focus. The note section below also helps with getting thoughts and ideas out. That's a great place to use throughout the week to remind yourself of new ideas that come up. Don't forget to include personal health and wellness tasks to remind yourself to schedule this important time each day.
Daily Planning - Your Most Important Tasks
Now we move on to page 2, and begin the daily planning pages. The most important element of the daily plan is choosing only 1-3 top priorities for the day. This involves choosing which of your weekly braindump tasks need to be done when, and their importance. For me today is Tuesday, and the most important thing is to write this blog so I can post it on Wednesday. Even if I get nothing else done, I'm still doing alright.
Remember to be realistic when considering these tasks and give yourself the time and space to complete them with focus and intention. If you got busy and couldn't complete one of them, turn the page and place that at the top of your list for the next day - and make sure you tackle that immediately the next day. Still putting it off? Ask yourself why you're avoiding that task.
Your Daily Timeline
This next section brings me so much peace of mind, especially while working from home where distractions lurk around every corner. I fill out my daily planning page the evening before so I can go to sleep knowing I have a clear plan of the most important tasks that will keep my life balanced and my business moving forward. The timeline is especially helpful to keep me on track without have to stop and remember what I'm supposed to do next. You do all the planning and thinking at once so the next day you can devote your brain energy to completing important tasks.
This section takes your 1-3 most important tasks and incorporates them into your day with other scheduled obligations like your morning routine, picking up the kids, dinner plans, and the like. My plan your day section usually consists of my morning routine like reading and drinking coffee when I get up, then yoga and breakfast before tackling my most important task for the day. I always add a time for me to stop working, and it's helpful for me to include some kind of ritual to remind me that it's time to relax, since I'm relaxing and working in the same space. There's a space for adding the time you'll do each tasks, and the circles are for my favorite part - checking things off the list!
Relax and Reward
Your last daily section is a fun space for you to reflect on anything you completed or learned that day. With all the chaos happening I can sometimes feel like I'm spinning my wheels, so I've noticed that acknowledging the progress I've made each day really helps my brain to fully switch into relax mode without feeling guilty. At that point if you've completed all of your most important tasks, you get to reward yourself! Even if the reward is small there is plenty of research backing the idea that rewarding small wins makes you more successful with forming new habits and getting more done. I complete this section at the end of my work day before planning my next day and then shutting off for the evening.
I don't know about you but I sleep much better, and wake up more energized, when I have a clear plan ahead of me - with something to look forward to at the end. I hope this planner style works for you, let me know your feedback in the comments, or send me an email with your story.