Do you ever reach the end of the day and think, “What the heck did I do all day?”  Whether you work for someone else or are self-employed, the day can drift by doing busy work or handling one crisis after another, and you don’t find the time to focus on what you planned to do.

If your day has ever slipped away, this post will help you plan your day or life and prioritize what matters most.  

Improve the Way You Plan Your Day

Braindump a To-Do List

Once a week, make a list of everything you need to do. Then, add the things you want to do. Think about who you need to return emails to and who you need to call or contact. What deadlines are looming? Are there errands you need to take care of? Was there anything on previous lists you still need to accomplish? Include any appointments or meetings you already have on your calendar. It can be a quick task or a big project. Whatever is in your brain that needs to be done can be included.

Everything you come up with during the brain dump should be included, and you can add to this as the week progresses. A brain dump clears the brain of all the things swirling around that you need to do.   

Create a Written Plan

Without a plan or roadmap for the day, it is easy to get off track and end up doing everything but what you need to do. So, create a written plan of the top 3 – 8 things you want to accomplish for the day. You can do this on the computer, but writing it on paper is the best option since the physical motion of writing helps you remember better. I often write it out and add it to my online calendar or task manager. I don’t have to ask myself a million times what I need to be doing. I look at my list and know what I need to do. 

I want to point out this isn’t a long “to-do” list or wish list. These are the essential items you need to do that day. It requires you to look at your “to-do” list and prioritize.

Create a Balance

You have a life, so you must be sure you are also giving your home and personal tasks time on your schedule. Don’t let work take over your entire life.  

Identify Top Priority Items

Choose one work and a personal item that are “must-dos” for the day. It can be anything from taking an item to the cleaners to cleaning the garage. From filing paperwork to spending an hour writing the major report due next week. Tasks don’t have to be complicated or lengthy. These are just two items that are most important for the day.   Hopefully, they will be items that help move the needle toward a goal.   Sometimes, they will be items that clear the deck for you to work on your goal later.     

Tackle these two items first, and then, if you have time, move on to the other items on your plan for the day.  

Make Time To Plan Each Day

Choose the evening before or first thing in the morning to plan for the day.   It is best if you do it at the same time each day. This creates a habit, and it helps keep you on track.

Refer To The List

Keep your priorities in front of you.   Your daily to-do list should be visible so you can cross it off and move to the following priority item when you finish a task.  

As I mentioned earlier, tasks can be on paper and then put into your calendar or task management system, so even if you only have a few minutes, you can look at the list and return a phone call, send an email, or start working on something. 

If You Need Help

Implementing these steps will help you take charge of your “to-do” list and your life. You will spend time working on the things that truly are important and now on the next shiny object that grabs your attention.

If you need help being accountable and following through, consider joining my   Monthly Career Trajectory Program, designed especially for career-minded professionals like you. It will help you with accountability. Consider it your personal check-in, where we’ll dive deep into your career goals and aspirations. CLICK HERE to schedule a quick call and secure your spot in my Monthly Career Trajectory Program.