Here’s a great personal organization tip: form a strong daily planning habit and a lot of your organizational woes will disappear. You can make it all happen in just 5 minutes each day. It will keep you accountable for important appointments, tasks, notes and requests from others.
It all starts with a daily planning habit, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. If you’re looking for a good planning system for putting it all together it together please check out Day-Timer’s complete planner starter sets.
1) Begin by planning today’s schedule:
Check your go-to monthly calendar for appointments or commitments and write them into today’s schedule in your personal organizer. Now, check yesterday’s notes and create any new appointments necessary. If needed, block out periods of task time. Just remember not to overbook yourself – reschedule or cancel appointments that interfere with your high priority tasks.
2) Scan yesterday’s notes
Identify any conversations, meetings, or ideas requiring new tasks and appointments. This is particularly important because a majority of your important follow-up actions come from phone calls and office conversations – this step keeps them from falling through the cracks.
3) Check yesterday’s Action List
Your personal planner will undoubtedly show more than a few tasks you didn’t get done. Take a minute to review these activities and evaluate whether they’re still priorities or if they should be parked on a master task list for another day. Hopefully you’ll also find some tasks are worth delegating or deleting.
4) Repeat your successes
Make a mental note of what went well yesterday and see if you can match this success today. For example, if you made headway in a particular project, find time for it again today. Always build-off the momentum of work you’ve accomplished.
5) Write your daily task list
List today’s to-dos according to important needs and other urgent commitments. Be sure to use descriptive action words like “complete,” “outline,” “research,” and “contact.” Keep your list short (6-9 tasks), realistic and doable within the confines of your day.
6) Choose your top priorities
Setting an order of importance is crucial to being more productive and reaching your goals. Some high priorities are quite obvious — such as meeting a work deadline — while others are less apparent. Assign them an A, B, or C:
- A tasks - must be done today, and will suffer consequences if not. Only a few proud tasks earn this distinction. Don’t call it an “A” if you don’t fully intend to do it.
- B tasks - need to get done, but won’t be penalized if not. Remember: B tasks if put off too long will become A-level tasks that require urgent attention.
- C tasks - you want to get done, but they can wait another day. These are great fill-ins for your downtime or time you might have left over.
Now, number your tasks in the order you want to complete them. Whenever possible schedule the most important tasks first, and then find an order that suits your daily movements. Stuck? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which task best fits my role?
- Which task pursues my goals?
- Which work completed today will have the most impact tomorrow?
Now, follow your plan
Part of your daily habit must include the commitment to follow-through and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction from checking off each completed task.
Now, the blueprint to a successful day is all laid out for you. Is 5 minutes of your time worth it? Of course it is. Day planning is a small but crucial step for choosing your daily priorities – at work and at home – and for getting your important work done.
Make 5-minute day planning one of your successful habits today.
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- 3 Steps to Knock-Off Those Pesky Lingering Tasks