A daily planner can be a great tool for scheduling your life. Through using a daily planner, you can record details of daily, weekly and monthly goals, and any tasks to complete.
Once you have that wealth of information recorded, you need to know how to use your daily planner effectively. A good starting point is to take a step back and survey the information you have. When using a daily planner, ask yourself the following questions to improve productivity.
What is your daily 'MIT'?
Prioritisation is key. If you don't prioritise goals in terms of importance, you might waste time on tasks that could be completed another day.
Before starting on your daily tasks, it can help to figure out your 'MIT', or Most Important Task. This is the most important task that you need to complete that day.
Not sure what your MIT is? Think about your main goal. For example, if you're setting up a new business plan, your MIT might be to write out a business plan, or research business grants.
By clarifying your MIT, you can ensure that you get your most important goals completed first.
What is wasting your time?
Some tasks take up a lot of time. If your MIT takes a few hours to complete, it could well be worth it. However, if minor tasks are becoming time-consuming, to improve productivity you may need to adjust the way you work, or you might need to cut out unnecessary tasks out of your routine altogether.
By using a daily planner, you can analyse your day. What tasks took the longest? Which tasks did you have time to complete? Ask yourself why you’re completing certain tasks. Are they important? Do they help you work towards your long-term goals?
For example, let's say you’re developing social media accounts for your business. You record details of your work day in your daily planner, and you find you're spending lots of time creating posts for multiple platforms with little success. You could decide to streamline your process, and target one particular platform, saving you valuable time and effort.
What needs doing today - or a week’s time?
Another question to improve productivity is deciding when to complete your tasks. Prioritise what needs doing now, and schedule what can be done in the future. A daily planner can help you to schedule in your tasks across the day, week and month.
If you spot tasks that could be moved to another day, plot future tasks into your daily planner, so there’s no risk of forgetting about them.
When prioritising tasks, ask yourself about consequences. What will happen if I don’t do this today? Chances are that an urgent bill that needs to be paid today is going to have more immediate consequences than buying a new pair of skiing boots.
When is the best time for me to work?
Body clocks. They have a real impact on our ability to deal with challenges we face throughout the day. One study by researchers at the University of Birmingham showed that both cognitive and physical performance can be impacted by the preferred rhythms of our body clock.
Any night owl who has been awakened at 6am knows this all too well. Whilst night owls are often encouraged to work against their preferred time schedule, if you have the opportunity, it’s better to listen to your body. Night owls have been shown to have overall better productivity in the evenings.
The same is true for early birds - if you gravitate towards a 5am start, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the benefits of an early morning routine, which include lower stress levels and better time management.
Am I giving myself enough time for breaks?
During work hours, it can be easy to neglect your wellbeing. Rest can also improve productivity.
Plot in plenty of breaks when using a daily planner. Listening closely to your own ways of working is vital. If you like to work for short bursts of time - work this way, and allot short breaks to follow.
Maybe you prefer to get your work done in one go? Following up with a longer break can be more helpful.
How you use your break time is up to you. However, you should try to use it for genuine rest, rather than trying to complete your other, non-work related goals. A short mindfulness session, focusing on your breath or the world around you, can be a real boost to your motivation and rest your mind.
Ultimately, to improve productivity, you need to be able to analyse your preferred ways of working, and the amount of time you have to fit your tasks in.
The best way to accomplish this is through using a daily planner, where you can see a clear overview of your tasks and available time well in advance. Using a daily planner can improve productivity drastically, giving you more time to focus on achieving your dreams.