Have you ever sat down at the end of a long day and felt like you accomplished nothing? If you don’t have a day planner, drugs go out and buy one… yesterday. Time management skills are vital, personally and professionally. You’ve heard the saying, “time is money,” and I think we could all do with a little more time that could make us a little more money.
Buy One You LOVE
- If you don’t love it, you won’t use it – I promise you that.
- If you normally carry a smaller purse or bag, opt for a smaller style planner. You’ll want to have it with you, and available, throughout your day.
- Size matters, literally. If you get a smaller planner, you may need to have a daily page style rather than a week view. To judge how much space you need, spend a week or two on scrap paper before you purchase.
- Do you want your day planner to serve multiple functions? Sometimes a binder style is better, or one with extra/removable note pages.
- Make sure the week layout works for you. Do you want the first day of your week to be a Sunday or would you rather it be a Monday? Further to that point, if you have a heavy workload on weekends, make sure the writing space on Saturday & Sunday is the same as the writing space for weekdays.
- Planners typically start at the beginning of a calendar year or the beginning of an academic year, but you can get planners that are undated too.
- Some of my favourites over the past few years have been Harold Covey, Start Planner and currently I’m obsessed with my Passion Planner. If you have any questions or need help finding a style that works for you, feel free to reach out.
Set Yourself Up For Success
- Go through your phone, wall calendars, etc and write in all your future commitments, birthdays, trips, etc.
- Set some goals. Want to save $1000 in 4 months? Break down your goals into realistic milestones and write it into your calendar. Whether it’s writing $250 at the top of every month or $125 every payday (if you’re paid biweekly), break it down so it’s attainable. Trust me, you’ll love being able to check off those small accomplishments along the way to the big ones. I personally love Passion Planner for their emphasis on goals throughout their planner.
- Commit to using it. Until you build a habit, set an alarm in your phone to remind you to bust it open. Maybe write it on your mirror or put a sticky note next to your coffee maker.
- Finally, make a list of all the things you don’t want to do this week, or habits you want to kick. Opening your day planner every day and seeing those reminders will help you remember what you’re working towards.
Be Accountable to Yourself
At the beginning of every work day:
- Go over all the commitments you already have scheduled.
- Schedule in any other extras (gym at 10am, lunch with mom at 12pm, etc).
- Write your To-Do List & prioritize it (I use different colour highlighters).
Throughout your work day:
- Check off the things you accomplished on your To-Do List.
- Write down anything else you accomplished that wasn’t on the original To-Do List.
- Make note of things you need to follow up on (When an estimate expires, what day a specific client gets billed on, etc).
At the end of every work day:
- Any tasks that weren’t accomplished on your To-Do List, transfer onto next day and make them a top priority for tomorrow.
- Review the next day, is there anything you can do right now that will set yourself up for success tomorrow? At the very least, make sure your french press or coffee maker is prepped for the morning.
E-Mails & Notifications
I think every single person has unintentionally went down the rabbit hole of the world wide web when they were supposed to be working on something important. I shouldn’t knock it, you’re probably doing that right now to read this blog post. It may have started as an Instagram notification, then checking out a new follower, and then a scroll through your feed to see new updates. Soon enough it’s a half hour later and you ridden with guilt that you spent valuable time not accomplishing the task you were originally working on. Sound familiar?
A humble piece of advice, brace yourself… shut off your damn notifications.
No, I’m not kidding – and I do Social Media for a living.
Do you seriously need to know every single time someone hits “like” on your Facebook status? Do you need to interrupt your train of thought every time you get a spam email that happened to make it through your junk mail filter?
I’m not saying you need to shut off your notifications completely, but you need to adjust how much time you’re spending attending to the notifications. I personally set aside 10-15 minutes to answer emails, organize my inbox and send out invoices, every two hours throughout my day. On the opposite hour, I check my personal social media notifications – Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. So if I worked for eight hours, I spend about an hour on my own social media.
That amount of time may sound ridiculous to you, but if you get 200+ notifications over an eight hour period (hello avid Twitter users) and you spend 30 seconds addressing each one, you’ll be spending an hour and forty minutes on social media. Now add in the occasional scroll through after you post or reply, a couple attempts at being witty on Snapchat and you’ll be well over 30 seconds and easily spending 2 hours on social media instead of being productive.
So yes, turn off your damn notifications and schedule time for emails & social media… please.
Stop Skipping The Gym
Are you one of those people that will find ANY excuse to skip your workout? I run 3-5 days a week, but can easily get sidetracked by emails, phone calls or my never ending pile of laundry. Your solution is simple – treat your workout like your most valuable appointment. Word of caution: if you want to spend an hour at the gym, you’re going to need to block off more than an hour for your gym session. Factor in your commute to and from, how long you’ll spend in the shower and getting ready again, as well as time for pre & post gym fuel.
Friends & Family
I’m a shitty friend, a terrible family member and the worst girlfriend because I’m selfish with my time – I put myself first, always. I suck at sporadic beers with buds or random family dinners. I schedule 80% of every day, and if they don’t call in that free 20%, I’m probably not available. This isn’t because I don’t want to, it’s because being an entrepreneur means you have to hold yourself accountable for your time spent at “work.”
Rather than continuing to go months and months without seeing people that matter to me, I schedule it. I make a list at the beginning of the month with all the people I want to see and I pick up the phone. I let all the people on that list know that time spent with them is a priority that month, so let’s figure out a day or three that work & stick to it. Whether it’s two people a week, or one, it’s better than none (see what I did there). And if you feel like you’ll never get around to everyone, host a dinner once a month (it can be potluck or pizza, nobody cares) and invite over multiple people off your list.
My favourite part of my day planner is where I schedule in specific time for myself. Every. Single. Day. This means guilt-free time devoted to something that makes you happy. Whether it’s reading, calling my mom or checking out Post Secret on Sunday mornings, I make sure that I schedule at least an hour, every day, for myself. Personally this works great for me first thing in the morning, because it makes me want to get out of bed rather than hit the snooze button the billionth time. But again, treat this like your most valuable appointment, you’re investing in yourself. You don’t like when clients or customers are late for you, don’t be late or no-show on yourself.
Review your accomplishments
At the end of every month, look back at everything you accomplished. Whether it was crushing a small goal or a large goal, high five yourself for kicking ass. Revaluate goals you didn’t quite achieve, make new deadlines or modify them so you can crush them next month. Celebrate yourself, it can be as simple as having one day where you crossed everything off your to-do list. That’s reason to celebrate, don’t sell yourself short.
What’s your favourite brand of day planner? What other routines do you have for being the most efficient with your time? How do you hold yourself accountable for what you do or don’t put forward every day? Reach out & let me know! – Becca