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Whether you are working full time, a college student, or a stay at home mom like myself, failing to plan out your days can leave you feeling disorganized. Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely have days where I purposely don’t plan a thing and just go with the flow. Those days are usually filled with relaxation and Netflix, although with a son, the word relaxation is relative.
Having a productive day is fairly easy to plan for. By following these 8 steps, you too will be well on your way of feeling accomplished by the end of the day and feeling a little less stressed.
Much of our stress can come from not having a plan of attack for the day, our minds are constantly on the go, so if we don’t give it some priorities it can be a bit of an overload. Even if that priority is to have a day of spontaneity, your subconscious is still trying to make a plan.
Step One: Plan your day the night before
This is honestly the one step that is easier said than done. Especially if you have a busy schedule, to begin with because let’s face it by the end of the day all you want to do is flop on that comfy bed of yours. But trust me, I started doing this then got lazy and fell off the wagon, my days went back to feeling slightly off-kilter.
I tried to sit there wake up and plan for the day while drinking coffee, yea that doesn’t work so much anymore as a mom now. For you, planning the day that same morning is a routine that suits you, but give it a try and plan the night before.
If you have a planner take it with you to bed. As you settle in for the night, take a few moments and write down what needs to get done the next day. Some may opt to use their phone, but if you are old school like me a small planner like this one is perfect!
You may find yourself enjoying those precious sips of coffee a little more, knowing what’s ahead of you.
Step Two: Wake up and get moving
When I was a teacher, I told myself to be that morning person. I would set my alarm and be out the door to work in 45 minutes. I made myself go to school an hour sometimes 2 hours before the first bell.
Why? Because I found that it was a lot quieter and virtually free of distractions ( since I was pretty much the only one there), therefore I was able to get so much more accomplished.
I also noticed I was in a better mood throughout the day because I knew that I did not have to stay after school to grade or plan lessons when I was mentally drained and just ready to go home.
Now as a stay at home mom, I still wake up early and get going in order to get some things done around the house before my official mommy time begins.
Step Three: Establish your morning routine
Now you’re probably thinking, wait this sounds just like step 2, but hear me out on this. Yes, it’s important to get up and get going to start your day, but implement a consistent morning routine will help you feel refreshed after waking up and it will allow you to mentally get focused for the day.
What you choose to do for your morning routine is entirely up to you. For me, it looks like this currently:
- wake up at 6 am with the hubs
- Make coffee, then get ready (even though I stay home, I feel better if I fix up my hair a little and change into something comfortable other than my pjs)
- Clean the cat’s litter boxes (hubby gets cat breakfast duty)
- Empty the dishwasher if it needs it
- Sweep the kitchen and family room floors
- Pour my coffee and review the tasks of the day
Usually, I am able to accomplish all this before Greyson (my son) wakes up for another feeding. I know it seems like a lot, but I’ve become pretty efficient at doing it fairly quickly now.
Whatever you choose to do for your routine, stick with it every day, even if it’s your off day from work, school, etc. It can be doing as much as I do or as little as getting ready, making your bed, then making breakfast. The important thing is to set a routine and commit!
Step Four: Review your plan and prioritize tasks
So this step is done while enjoying my cup of coffee and morning quiet time. What makes this easy on me is that I planned my day the night before, so all I have to do is review and prioritize.
Ranking the priority level of what you need to get done for the day is vital. Since I tend to be more mentally focused at the beginning of the day I try to tackle the bigger tasks first. Of course, those tasks can be time dependent such as doctors appointments.
Nevertheless, rank your “to do” list and start completing them a task at a time. Taking it one thing at a time makes your list appear less overwhelming and puts you more in control as you go down and check them off.
Step Five: Keep it clean and organized
Cleanliness and organization are key to productivity. I don’t necessarily mean your house needs to be spotless, but your work area should be clean and organized. Whether it’s your desk at work or in your home office, keep it neat and have things in their place.
It makes it easier to find things you need and get stuff done faster. As a teacher, I would cringe when I’d see a coworkers’ desks filled with stacks of papers, pens, folders, and a half-eaten sandwich (true story).
I’m positive they have lost a student’s assignment more than once that way or they miss a meeting because they can’t see their calendar under all the papers. Whatever it is you do daily, find a system to get and stay organized. A cluttered area leads to a cluttered mind as I’m sure someone’s grandma would say.
Step Six: Get rid of distractions
Oh, the joys of modern technology and how easily addictive you can be! I am willing to bet we have all be a victim to the “app trap”, from Words with Friends to Instagram or even our favorite binge-worthy show on Netflix, it is easy to get distracted.
If you’re a student needing to study or finish that important paper, try putting your phone on airplane mode for a while and jam out to music instead. If you’re at work depending on what you do, it may be easier to avoid distraction because well you have work to do.
As a blogger, it can sometimes be hard not to get distracted since our job solely relies on the use of technology and social media platforms. That’s why this next step becomes my daily holy grail.
Step Seven: Give yourself a break
Taking a break or a few during the day is pretty self-explanatory as to why you need one. All workplaces provide them because it has been proven to enhance your productivity.
Allowing yourself some downtime each day gives your brain a chance to recharge, therefore you can review your daily plan to see what you’ve done and what’s left. If the weather is nice, go out and get some fresh air. Refocus and get back to checking off tasks from your list.
Step Eight: Get Sleep!
The final step is kind of a no-brainer, yet so many fall short of getting good quality sleep. Depriving yourself of sleep and you may not exactly pay for it the following day, especially if you’re still in your youthful age, but as many of us will tell you, it does catch up to you!
It may sound childish, but try setting a bedtime routine as well, during the week set a time of when you should go to bed in order to get 6-7 hours of good sleep.
Give yourself a cut off time from electronics and try to let your mind settle without staring at harsh screens. This would be a good time to sit down and look at your planner to see what needs to be done the next day.
If you use your phone as a planner, then do this earlier and follow up with reading. If you implement avoiding screen time before bed for a few days, you will notice improved sleep.
I will leave you with one final thought, more like a good piece of advice from good ol’ Ben Franklin. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
So give this method a try and leave me a comment on how it worked for you!
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