Daily Planning Guide (in 8 Easy Steps)
Let me guess, you often feel like your day is almost over and you haven’t done anything important.
You didn’t find enough time for all the things you wish to do, your work, health, family, self-development, other daily tasks?
Since we all only have 24 hours a day, making a plan for the day can be challenging.
What activities can you squeeze in this short time?
If we plan our schedule poorly, we will feel exhausted and overwhelmed. If we don’t plan at all, we can feel time flying over us. We can only control our time when we create the optimal daily planning routine for ourselves.
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you ” – Jim Rohn
I share your feelings. I often felt frustrated when I couldn’t control my time. I need to learn to create an optimal weekly and daily planning schedule, so I know where I’m going. It takes away stress, and I can focus on important things.
It’s still not perfect, just optimal, so sometimes I overestimate my capacity and overload myself with tasks and activities. Still, I’m getting better day by day, learning from my mistakes on the go.
In this post, I will share what I have learned with you so YOU can also plan and run a productive and satisfying day!
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What is Daily Planning?
Daily planning is an established routine that outlines all activities for a day.
Your daily plan can be just a simple short checklist that needs to be filled out every day. Or it can include writing an hourly schedule, creating a detailed to-do list of activities, preparing a meal or daily budget plan, tracking habits, and planning for the next day.
Why is Daily Planning so important?
A daily planning routine is essential if you would like to use your time most effectively, manage your time smartly, and maintain a successful productivity system.
Planning for the next day will help you see through your day and prepare for the tasks and events instead of facing them on the go.
This ensures that nothing glides through your attention and that you are constantly aware of your priorities and responsibilities.
How do you create Daily Plans?
Here are several ways how you can write your daily list:
- Use a paper and write it by hand
- An agenda, designed planner, appointment book
- Daily planner notepads
- Open a new document on your PC
- Use online applications so that you can access your planner from any device at any time
- Or use our Weekly and Daily free printable Planner >
Templates, pre-designed planners, or digital applications can help you more with the organization and pay more attention to your current tasks’ essential details.
I can also recommend reading the book of David Allen – Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, a great book on personal and professional organization. It was helping me a lot to understand the principles of planning.
Daily Planning Guide in 8 Easy Steps
The best is if you combine daily and weekly planning. So you can see the “big picture”, your whole program for the week, and you can better allocate time and organize each day separately.
Step 1: Choose a Method to Start Planning
Figure out how you would like to schedule your days, which planning method you would enjoy and works best for you. You can write by hand on paper or type in your PC, or use an application.
- When you choose digital planning, you make it easier just to copy-paste your previous day’s plan.
- On the other hand, studies show that writing by hand is an effective memory and learning aid, and it activates more regions of the brain than typing. 1 Writing things down also helps in information retention. 2
The combined version worked best for me. I handwrite my schedule and upcoming events in my appointment book. I also use Google Calendar to see my tasks and plans in detail on all my devices, type notes regularly, and set up reminders.
But you can try other task management tools, too, like Trello or Asana, and Microsoft also has a Planner tool.
Step 2: Plan your Day Ahead
Plan your day the night before (for me, it takes like 5-10 minutes every night).
Sit down and spend as much time as you need to think carefully about upcoming events, tasks, and activities. The steps you should take the next day to make you feel satisfied and proud.
Use your planner every day until it becomes a daily routine.
Step 3: Review Tomorrow’s Schedule
Check your calendar for meetings, presentations, important calls, classes, birthdays, name days, anniversaries, upcoming events. Don’t miss out on anything.
Step 4: Write a Task List
Now that you have an idea of what will happen tomorrow, you can write a realistic list of to-dos. What you need to do and what you want to achieve the next day.
Think about your duties like working, making calls, making appointments, or fixing urgent things. And your personal life, such as your health and family.
Training day tomorrow? Time to learn? Friend’s birthday?
If you are new to this planning adventure, it can be helpful to know how long it takes you to complete your tasks.
It’s also time to write it down all the habits you wish to change, to your habit tracker.
If you have decided to quit sugar, simply describe it as “sugar-free” or say you want to read it every day, so insert your “reading” and follow how you progress during the week.
Be sure to also update regularly your habit tracker.
Step 5: Prioritize your List
Now that you have your list think about their importance. What are the essential activities you need to complete that one day?
Prioritize your tasks in a way that your most important things get done first.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day” – this quote by Mark Twain is explained in Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog. Eating a frog is a metaphor for tackling your most challenging task—but also the one that can have the most significant impact on your life.
Place a number next to your tasks according to their priority. I suggest having a maximum of 3-5 priorities each day to don’t overload yourself.
You can also use the help of the Eisenhower Matrix 3 above as the famous productivity strategy and decision – making tool:
- Do it: urgent and important tasks (do it right now)
- Decide: important but not urgent (schedule it in advance for later)
- Delegate: urgent, but not important (give it to someone else)
- Delete: neither urgent nor important (eliminate)
Step 6: Review your Current Day and Tick Off All the Completed Tasks
Now check the current day and tick all the completed tasks you have set for this day. Tick off the habits in your tracker that you were able to follow that day.
(If it is your first day of planning, just skip this step today and come back tomorrow).
- On the one hand, it helps you assess your capacity one day and make a better plan for the next day.
- On the other hand, it shows how many targets you managed to complete that day and your good work.
Step 7: Move any Unfinished, Not Urgent, and Unimportant task
You can see now what tasks are unfinished. Move them to a different to-do list or the following days’ list. Make sure they are written down somewhere else!
Check also your top priorities list. Maybe you can move any of the activities which have low priority to another day? Or can you delegate or eliminate them?
Also, fill out the notes section, so you never lose your ideas and duties
Step 8: Commit to your Daily Plan
If you have a written plan for the next day, you are more likely to stick to it and want to complete as many things as you can from your to-do list.
If you commit to your daily plan, you are less likely to say “yes” to unexpected events, random activities that are not in line with your priorities.
Helpful Tips on Daily Planning
Make daily planning and habit tracking a routine
Plan your to-dos and track your habits every day and evaluate the night before until it becomes part of your daily routine.
Utilize grouping similar tasks
Group your tasks according to their categories to make it easier for your brain by focusing on similar actions. For example, pair phone calls with email writing or housework duties all in one day.
Be flexible to change
Be open to unplanned events when a more important or urgent incident occurs. For example, you receive a new task from your boss, or a client calls about a critical job that needs to be quickly done, or you have a flat tire and need to fix it. These cases can happen any time, so don’t feel frustrated if you need to reschedule your day again.
Write notes of your new ideas
When a new idea or new task arises, write it down immediately into your planner under notes to stay organized and don’t lose track of your thoughts and new jobs that need to be done or fixed.
Don’t overdo the scheduling
Don’t try to squeeze tasks to each minute. Instead of planning too tight, add extra time to every longer activity, like an additional 10-15 minutes.
I often made this mistake when I saw I have 10 minutes between 2 events, and I wanted to press in something else, like a phone call or a quick meditation, so I could feel all my time is fully used. But it caused more stress and rush, often delay with the next activity.
Planning should help instead of holding you back.
You can spend some time in the morning to write a gratitude journal and at night to evaluate your day. What went right and what was wrong? How can you be better the next day?
It helps your mental health by being grateful early in the morning and reduce stress when you evaluate your day at night.
Final Thoughts on Daily Planning
Daily Planning can relieve the anxiety and stress caused by uncertainty about what the next day holds. Scheduling helps you focus your efforts on the most important activities instead of wasting your time on irrelevant tasks. It provides a sense of direction to get things done and move closer to your goals.
The 8 steps again how to plan daily:
Step 1: Choose a method to start planning
Step 2: Plan your day ahead
Step 3: Review tomorrow’s schedule
Step 4: Write a task list
Step 5: Prioritize your list
Step 6: Review your current day and tick off all the completed tasks
Step 7: Move any unfinished, not urgent, not important task
Step 8: Commit to your daily plan
There are several benefits of creating a planning routine.
(1) The magic of writing things down-ASCD
(2) Comparing memory for handwriting versus typing -SAGE Journals
(3) The “Eisenhower Box” by James Clear
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy
What helps you most when you plan your day? Let us know in the comments below.