Someone asked me recently, “how do you plan your day”?
My answer? “Not very well!”
However, I have found a system that works for me. Its really simple, but it works.
I have tried many systems. But my biggest problem is that I have so much going on at once, if I don’t have a way to log ideas and tasks IMMEDIATELY as they come into my head, I often forget them until it’s too late! Interruptions also knock me for six!
So, I use a blend of analogue and digital tools. Analogue for immediate logging, and digital for organising and tracking. Here are my tools:
- A4 whiteboard stickers
- Small stickies in different colours
- TickTick (a brilliant online and mobile app).
So, how does your system work? it’s really simple:
1. Start of the day, brain dump
Brain dumping is the best way to clear your mind of the things that are pressing and annoying you most. Not only does it help you focus, but it’s a de-stresser too. You can almost feel your mind breath a sigh of relief as you write things down. I brain dump daily onto my A4 desk whiteboard (a whiteboard sticker stuck to my desk. Its highly erasable and although its adhesive backed, its also removable if you need to!)
2. Transfer brain dump to TickTick
Once I have brain dumped to my whiteboard, I then transfer to TickTick, an awesome online task management tool that is online and mobile. I erase each task from my whiteboard as I transfer. New tasks always get added to the ‘Inbox’ tab in TickTick.
3. Categorise your tasks
Once listed in the Inbox, you can then begin to organise your tasks according to priority. I first categorise them into 3 categories; Whirlwind, Invest and Working on.
- Whirlwind – the urgent things with deadlines, but not necessarily important. Often shorter tasks like ‘reply to emails’ or ‘post samples’.
- Invest – the critically important things, but not necessarily timebound. Things like ‘update website’, ‘write a blog’ or
- Working on – speaks for itself, these are the larger tasks that rely on other people or take more than a day to complete.
4. Prioritise in order of urgency
Normally I try to action Whirlwind tasks first for two reasons 1) to get them out of the way and 2) it creates a sense of achievement early in the day.
So I click the Whirlwind tab and prioritise as below:
For prioritising, I like to simply use 3 priorities; ‘Today’, ‘Next 7 Days’ and “No Date”
- Today – must be done today
- Tomorrow/Next 7 Days – must be done this week
- No Date – can be done sometime
Its really easy to add dates to the tasks. Either click the 3 dots on the right-hand side, or drag and drop into the relevant date.
Then I do the same for the ‘Invest’ tab.
5. Time your tasks and add to calendar
Finally, simply jot down how long each task will take, and add to your calendar as time blocks. If you like, you can colour code your time blocks to match your TickTick categories, or customise your own.
Plan without action is a daydream! However, to execute, you need to maintain focus. To maintain focus, TickTick has this handy little task called ‘Today’. This only shows the tasks you have assigned as ‘must get done today’ and categorised with colours into ‘Whirlwind’ and ‘Invest’.
You can reorder the tasks any way you want, but as I mentioned I like to try and get Whirlwind tasks out of the way first, so I have a clear mind to focus on the Invest tasks, which are most important for my success.
Get tasks done and tick them off as you go!
7. Deal with interruptions
During the day everyone know what it is to be interrupted. Email comes in. phone rings. Someone texts you. You see something on social media. When that happens, I again use the whiteboard on my desk. Quickly write it down, and stay focused on the task at hand.
When you are finished, review and add tasks again to the Inbox in TickTick, but unless they are time pressing, don’t look at them again until the next day!
If you are out of office, (which I am a lot) you can use the TickTick mobile app to quickly log tasks to the Inbox, I love the simplicity of this feature, works really well for me.
8. Keep a journal
This is something that confessedly I’m not great at, but when I do the reflection on the days work gives clarity and new meaning and strengthens what you are trying to achieve. At the end of the day, I try to journal in my notebook the key things achieved today. This helps me constantly check for productivity, as well as keep a record you can always go back to.
9. Keep a view of your goals
Lastly, keeping view of your goals is essential to productivity. Tasks are one thing. Goals are another. Whilst its important to have a great task management system, tasks are still often the ‘sand’ in your life’s jar, and you can get so consumed with completing tasks you lose sight of the ‘big rocks’, your goals.
For this, I have 2 more whiteboard sheets stuck up on the wall beside me for my 2 most important goals for the week. My 2 are ‘appointments’ and ‘blogs’.
I use the stickies for creating visual reminder of key messages and goals, and also for logging blog topics as they come to mind. Then I can simply slide to the top of the list the next one to work on.
I hope you enjoyed this read, and it helps you in some way! Everyone has their own unique way of managing their tasks, but the principles are always the same. Plan daily. Log tasks. Categorise. Prioritise. Calandarise. And finally, Execute!
If you found this helpful and want to get some of the tools I use to keep a clear mind, maintain focus and get stuff done, I have created a Daily Planning kit you can purchase with everything you need to make it happen!
Check out Myndflo Daily Planning Kit >> http://bit.ly/2NLFAYs
Check out TickTick >> https://ticktick.com
About Laurie McMullan and Myndflo
Laurie founded Myndflo.com in November 2017 with a vision to help people and teams make big ideas happen. We are doing this by designing simple products and systems that make collaboration and communication simple and fun!
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