Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is quoted as having said, “Fail to plan; plan to fail”. I agree. In fact, creating a daily plan is my number one suggestion for better time management and personal productivity.
Why am I writing about such an obvious and well-known concept? It is because I am often surprised to discover that not everyone uses it. I think that people are reluctant to take the time to plan, when they could be working. However, I believe that planning your work is part of your work.
To me, a daily plan answers the question, “What do I want to accomplish today?” A daily plan is NOT a schedule or a general to-do list. A daily plan is a statement of the top three things that you intend to get done that day. Why only three? New priorities and tasks will come up throughout the day. That’s why I recommend picking three things.
Each day, before doing anything else, take a moment alone to decide what you want to accomplish. Write down up to three items. These are the goals that you will do your best to reach on THIS day.
Your daily plan process should be fast and easy. You don’t need to make it complicated by ranking and sorting ALL of your items. You don’t need to add priority A, B and C against each item. Just pick the top three.
I also suggest choosing those tasks that will allow you to have the biggest impact. It’s an intuitive process – don’t take too long over it!
This daily planning technique has many benefits. Here are my favourite three:
- It’s flexible. As you’ve only chosen three things, you’ll also be able to attend to other tasks as they crop up.
- You can use it to lead by example with your team. Let them know what three things you’re up to and ask for theirs. This helps your team realize that planning is part of their work too.
- You’ll feel calm and in control.
When coaching with regard to personal and team productivity, I ask my clients how they plan for their day.
Since they usually have no planning technique, we discuss and agree that a daily plan might help. After going away and trying it for a while, my clients report that they are delighted by the results such an easy action can produce.
What are you using to plan your day? And are you doing it every day?