An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day
That means we start every day knowing we're not going to get it all done. So how we spend our time is a key strategic decision. That's why it's a good idea to create a to do list and an ignore list. The hardest attention to focus is our own. But even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few important things when so many things require your attention?
STEP 1 (5 Minutes) RITUAL. Managing our time needs to become a ritual too. The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It's simple.
Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you've been productive and successful? Write those things down. Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. If you want to get something done, decide when and where you're going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.
STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) REFOCUS. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don't let the hours manage you.
STEP 3 (5 minutes) REVIEW. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?