FREE PRINTABLE DAILY PLANNER TO ORGANIZE YOUR DAYS
Not long ago I came across the following description of a day without a plan: “… it’s like running a race with no idea of the route or destination. You might get there eventually, but you’re going to be stressed, exhausted and certainly lagging behind everyone else.” I couldn’t agree more. Planning your day is the best way to set yourself up for success. To help you plan your days, I’m excited to share my one-page free printable daily planner.
What A Daily Planner Does
My one-page daily planner does not replace my yearly planner but works alongside it to organize my life. I use (and love) the Erin Condren Life Planner for the big-picture, macro-level organizing of my whole life: work, meetings, deadlines, appointments, social activities, annual events etc.
I use my daily planner for the nitty-gritty, micro-level organizing of my daily life: to-do’s, calls to make, emails to send, things to follow-up etc. The daily planner I created captures all of this information on a single piece of paper, keeping my days organized, focused, efficient and productive. And I’m sharing it so you can use it to organize your days too!
How To Use The Daily Planner
I take the last 10-15 minutes of my workday to plan my next day. It starts with a 5-minute “brain dump” of everything, professional and personal, I want to accomplish the next day. And I do mean everything: errands, specific emails to send, laundry, meal prep, my daughter’s activities etc. The information usually comes out in a disorganized fashion, but that’s fine because it’s just about getting everything down. I check my life planner for the big picture stuff that needs to be added and then I begin organizing my next day with the daily planner.
Top 3 Priorities
I begin by looking at everything I wrote down and determine my top 3 priorities for the next day. The 3 things that, if nothing else gets accomplished, I’ll feel good about getting done. Establishing these priorities gives my day focus and allows me to schedule working on them during my peak-productivity times.
Calls To Make/Emails To Send
Next, I organize all the calls I want to make and text messages and emails I want to send. This ensures I don’t forget anything and allows me to determine how much time is needed to complete these tasks.
Hour By Hour
Now, I’m ready to organize my day! I like using an hourly format because I don’ just make a to-do list, I think about how long each task will take and schedule it in my day. Most people create unrealistic to-do lists and feel bad when they don’t get everything done. Thinking about how long something will take forces me to prioritize tasks and set realistic daily goals.
I first schedule the non-negotiables: client sessions, doctor appointments, extra-curricular commitments etc. (remembering to factor in travel time). Then I look at what’s left to do and try to group similar activities. For example, send e-mails and text messages are usually scheduled together. If I need to shop for a client, pick up toothpaste and fill the car with gas, I group those tasks. By doing so, my day is much more efficient and I more than recoup the 10-15 minutes I spend in the evening mapping it out. Not to mention I don’t waste time during the day figuring out what needs to be done or worrying I’m forgetting something. I immediately start being productive.
Planning my day out hour-by-hour also makes it easy to adjust my schedule when something unexpected comes up, as it often does in life! Because everything is mapped out, I only have to look to one source to see what’s left to do and I’m able to make an informed decision about what can be set aside for the new task.
Things to Follow-Up/Do Another Day
After an email is sent, a call is made or conversation is had, there is often follow-up that needs to be done. This space is where I capture those tasks.
Random Things & Thoughts To Remember
This space is where I write down the random thoughts that pop into my head as I’m working on other tasks. Things like, remember to order school lunches, make a doctor’s appointment, or a great new blog post idea. I need to remember (and do) these things, just not at the time they pop into my mind. By capturing them in this space, I’m confident they won’t get forgotten and can return my full attention to the task at hand.
This space keeps track of anything I want to keep on my radar: due dates, activities, birthdays etc.
If There’s Time
This is where I list things I can work on if I have extra time. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I like to make the most of “found” time with a list of tasks I want to get done but aren’t pressing that day. For example, research good family vacation destinations, read article on the costs of clutter or update pictures on my website.
At The End Of The Day
At the end of the day, I place any new commitments, follow-up reminders or random thoughts in the appropriate place in my Life Planner (or elsewhere) to ensure they get done when they need to. Then I get out a blank daily planner and start planning the next day!
The key to less hectic and stressful days is planning! Set yourself up for success by organizing your daily life with my one-page free printable daily planner. Click here to get yours and start having more organized, focused, efficient and productive days. Let me know in comments below how you handle your daily to-dos.