Do you get up every day with no concrete idea of how you plan to spend your time? You’re missing out on the benefits of planning your day.
One of the most valuable things I do for my productivity every evening is go over my longterm goals and my plan for the following day. This practice keeps me on track and helps me catch any gaps in my schedule.
Some people think that planning like this hurts spontaneity and stifles creativity, but I believe that it actually allows me the flexibility to explore new ideas without falling behind on my larger aspirations—in and out of the office.
There are a myriad of benefits of planning your day, but I want to go over the mistakes I made when I skipped my little planning sessions.
Don’t get caught dealing with these potential issues that may hurt your ability to move forward. If you want to expand your business or just find more time to pursue a hobby, neglecting to plan your day will cause problems.
If you don’t set your schedule in advance, you run the risk of forgetting what you need to accomplish in a day.
Especially if you own your own business, you are probably juggling a lot of different tasks at once that are all important in their own way. Starting each day without a plan of action and an understanding of your daily objectives is a dangerous game. Forgetting even one small detail can greatly affect your ability to successfully do your job—or even set your employees back.
Take this example: say you own a business that sells a product online. In order to get your product out to your customer, you have to take a number of steps to fulfill shipments. If you don’t delineate exactly what you need to accomplish each day, you might forget a step that hinders your shipping process and that will hurt your reputation with the consumer.
Because of this sort of situation, I would say that the benefits of planning your day extend doubly to entrepreneurs.
Even if you can remember everything you need to do in a day, without a plan you might run out of time to get it all done.
Running out of time causes the same issues as forgetting the details. Missing a deadline with a distributor, client, or other party that helps you run your business will prevent you from moving forward.
Running out of time doesn’t only mean running out of time to finish work projects. The more time you spend navigating an unplanned day, the longer your work day will be. The longer you work, the less time you will have to pursue your hobbies, or even just unwind after your work day. Work-life balance helps keep you productive and healthy. If you run out of time to take care of yourself, your work and your health will suffer.
Neglecting to plan your day will cause you unnecessary and avoidable stress.
When you’re playing everything by ear, it makes it difficult to set up contingency plans for if something goes wrong. Without any clear direction and the looming threat of something going wrong, stress will build, causing more mistakes and tons of wasted time.
Without a clear plan, you might begin to feel stuck.
Even if you have a broad plan for moving forward, getting bogged down with the day-to-day tasks can leave you feeling stuck. Having no direction or plan of action to get the small stuff done will impede you even more. Once you start to feel stuck it will be hard to move forward with your business or other pursuits.
Now that we’ve gone over the mistakes I was prone to before I began being intentional with my schedule, we can cover all of the benefits of planning your day—benefits that I see in action every week.
When you plan out your day, you always know what your next move will be. Of course there will always be hiccups and hidden surprises, but in general you will have a solid idea of what to expect from your day.
This can streamline your productivity and keep you on track. Once you finish a task it is easy to get distracted. If you know what to do next you can immediately move on and get closer to accomplishing your broader, long term goals.
Planning your day is a learning process. As you begin to master your schedule, you will learn how to best budget your time. Figuring out how long you need to accomplish certain tasks is a crucial part of successfully managing any calendar.
If you don’t allot enough time for certain tasks, you might run out of hours in the day, or your work will suffer. When you are trying to build a business it’s important to do your best work, so make sure you give yourself enough time to do things right. Don’t ever rush for the sake of checking more boxes off on a to-do list.
One of the most underrated benefits of planning your day is reducing stress. It’s easy to focus on an increase in productivity being the best perk of solid planning and of course getting more out of your day will work to your advantage. That being said, you may find that feeling less stress is the greatest gift you give yourself when you plan ahead.
When you have a lot on your plate, it might be overwhelming to figure out where to start. If you plan each day and schedule out an appropriate amount of time for your daily tasks and your long term goals, you’ll find that everything seems more manageable.
Reducing your stress will increase your overall productivity and is good for your health.
If you have mastered budgeting your time, you’ll find it easier to get everything done. Not only will planning out your day help you prioritize, but it will also give you the power to control how many things you accomplish.
You will also remember everything you need to get done. One of the disadvantages I mentioned earlier was forgetting the small things. Skip that mistake by keeping to-dos and writing things down—along with each item’s due date.
Scheduling breaks is another perk of planning your day. Although you want to do as much as possible during your day, finding time to take breaks will benefit you in the long run.
If you pack too much into your day you will find that you begin to feel overworked and eventually your productivity will suffer. If you plan your day in advance you can take time in between meetings and completing other tasks to take a deep breath and prepare yourself to keep working.
Neglecting to plan your day might result in forgetting to take breaks or putting yourself in a position where you don’t have time to take a step back and look at the big picture.
When you plan your day you’ll find that you always do your best work. By giving yourself reasonable deadlines you will not only have time to do everything you need to do, but you’ll be able to make sure it’s done well.
Being successful at whatever you pursue is hard, but knowing you are doing your best work is rewarding. Planning your day will enable you to continue improving.
Having a game plan for your day will help you stay focused. Just like the benefits of knowing your next move, getting focused will stop you from getting distracted once you complete a task. Even if your next task is to take a break, you still have direction and structure.
Waking up in the morning is easier when you know what is ahead of you. Sometimes when you don’t know how to get started, you lose motivation.
Planning your day will help you get excited for not only the steps you will take to move forward that day, but will also motivate you to continue planning and executing goals in the future. Moving forward in your business or other pursuit is important, and planning your day will motivate you to do more.
Say you are starting a business. If you have a solid schedule, you will start to see where you have room to grow as you master certain tasks.
You might also see where you could expand your business. If you are used to working by yourself, you might hesitate to bring other people on to help you. But delegating tasks will allow you to focus on the most important aspects of your job without neglecting any important details.
One of the biggest benefits of planning your day is being in control. It can be scary to feel like your business or other pursuit is dictating all of your time and energy. When you work on a daily schedule, you can establish boundaries and avoid rushing to get things done.
Creating a plan will also help you avoid a dull routine. Even though it might seem like you are just establishing a routine, you have the power to vary your schedule to your liking.
Nothing in life is set in stone. Of course you shouldn’t make a schedule you know you can’t stick to, but you should also be prepared to be flexible.
Your ability to be flexible relies on your scheduling capabilities. Giving yourself the appropriate amount of time to do things allows for inevitable bumps in the road. Having a contingency plan for your day if something goes wrong is also a good way to roll with the punches.
That being said, be sure to hold yourself accountable. If you make a plan, try to stick to it. Constantly allowing yourself or others to derail your day could compromise the benefits of planning your day.
Planning a day for no plans probably seems a little counterintuitive, but it is a great tool to reduce stress. You work hard to succeed, and taking time to rest is important if you want to continue to succeed. Set aside time in your schedule that is unplanned. Relax at home or take time to pursue another interest.
Although this time is just for you, you need to schedule it in advance. Don’t end up wasting time and losing motivation by randomly deciding to take time off. Look at your broad plans and strategically pick and choose time you can take for yourself—whether that’s just a day or a whole vacation.
The benefits of planning your day are endless. Whether you are getting more done through time management or finding the space for a break, planning your day can help you avoid sticky situations. Be sure to make a habit of assessing your schedule. Make a date with yourself every day or a few times per week and get that calendar in top shape.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.