It is said, and wisely at that, that doing something without a plan is the most wasteful endeavor in one’s life. Carrying out work without a plan is akin to playing football without a goalpost. You keep putting all your energy into the game, only to be clueless about what you did during your playtime.
This example relates to only a game. It is imperative that the same draining of energy should not happen when we are doing something very important in life. The foundation to ensuring that it does not is to learn to plan your day. Why the day? Simply because it is the real and most tangible unit of time that we allot for the work we do.
In this blog, I will list down a few proven, effective ways of how to plan your day. This could be a quick guide to scheduling your day and maximize the benefit you derive from your everyday worklife. In this article, I will explain how these five tips could make a difference to your planning and help you become more organized and efficient at your work, which is the key to helping to build a healthy work-life balance, and thus, a happy life. These are the five tips:
- Sketch your plan
- Schedule your work
- Avoid procrastinating!
- Keep checking
- Take stock at the end of the day
1. Sketch your plan
This may sound like an obvious point to start with, but believe me, this is the most effective means to getting your day’s activities right. The basis to good planning is to never let go of the good old habit we all grew up on: writing. It is not necessary to scribble on a sheet of paper these days, but any aiding tech tool will do.
Roman emperor Titus is believed to have coined the truly meaningful Latin adage: Verba volant, scripta manent, (which translates to, “what is said flies, what is written stays”) centuries ago, but nothing could be more relevant to our daily lives, even in this age.
I make it a point to write down every item that needs to be carried out during my workday. It is the handiest and easiest method of keeping on checking if you are on track with what you set out to do. All that you need to do is just tick against every completed item, and soon, you will know exactly where you stand each day.
2. Schedule your work
This again may not seem to be anything extraordinary, but once you have written down what you want to do, the next logical step is to go about actually doing it. It is important to ensure that your schedule aligns with your plan. Schedule your work, whether it is with your own colleagues or with people outside, in such a way that you are able to stick to what you planned for the day.
3. Avoid procrastinating
Have you realized that the biggest liability in the workplace is not the unskilled employee, but the procrastinator? A low skill employee can be trained, but nothing is more unfortunate for an organization than to have someone who simply keeps putting off work. The result: all productive work piles up, and with it, the attendant tension and anxiety for not only the procrastinating employee, but everyone. The best time to do a work is now. Keep this in mind and avoid postponing work or decisions, unless doing so is going to fetch a higher reward.
4. Keep checking
Another simple, but strong means to plan your day is to keep referring to your original checklist. At the completion of each task, just check against your valuable piece of paper. This will allow you to not only stay clear; it could also allow you the liberty of juggling a few tasks here and there, if necessary.
The point that needs to be stressed here, of course, is that you should not take too many liberties with playing around with your next tasks. Only mix and match those tasks which are less important. If you had something to do at 4, but want a quick coffee at this time to reenergize you, see to it that putting off that small task to accommodate the coffee is not going to turn the rest of the day into a mess. The key is judiciousness. This is something you will learn with practice, and frankly, is no rocket science.
5. Take stock at the end of the day
It is said that the best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago. Just apply the same thinking to your workday. The best time to plan for your day is not that day, but the day (or at least, the night) before. Having spent enough time in your profession, you certainly don’t need to be taught to be aware of the time at which your next day begins, and what all it consists of. As you finish each day, just look back and see how you fared in relation to the execution of the tasks you set out for. With it, also draw the plan for the next day based on what you achieved that day.
Ideally, a 100% execution rate is wished for, and that is what you should be achieving, unless there were factors beyond your control, like maybe, the person to be met not turning up, etc. Keep this success rate in mind and reflect on your daily progress. Too much variation suggests either poor planning or tardy implementation. The successful day is one that gives you the satisfaction that you completed what you set out to. With these methods and tips, I am confident every day should become such a day!
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