Your Best Day Planner
I was never that interested in a day planner. They felt like a lot of extra work and I had a certain laziness about the whole process. That was all until I found a better system and was able to find a daily planner that worked for me and my goals of productivity.
In this article I am going to walk you through my daily productivity planner and how it has become one of the most important productivity tools in my arsenal. I am also going to give you a free printable day planner based on the strategies we talk about.
The Best Day Planner is uniquely yours
What’s so important about a planner being your own? It fits you as an individual. This is something I learned first when I was looking at all of the planners out there. I looked at daily planners, weekly planners, monthly planners, and even those ones you get in high school that map things out by semester or year.
Not many of these fit my needs. In fact, most of these slowed me down and kept me from being productive. These planners were a copy and paste of date and time, assignments and tasks. They did little more than provide a space to write down various to-do lists.
I wanted something more. I wanted something that would help me get things done faster and better. I wanted something to keep me accountable, but to also allow me to plan out a productive day. I wanted to make the most of my time and a list of things I could do was not going to cut it.
This all led me to an age-old phrase, “there’s got to be a better way.”
A Purposeful Planner
The day planner I came to start using was something I set up every morning. It is not so much a list of events for the day or what tasks need to be done. This is a planner that focuses on what will make me the most productive. This is a planner that reflects the purpose of each day first.
The first question in this planner is, “What is the purpose of today?”
That’s a big question to ask right out the gate, but it is an important one. This question aligns us with something beyond our own self at the beginning. Our purpose is one the key metrics in measuring our productivity for the day. It gauges whether or not we have been able to live according to our values. It looks at if we have lived in our strengths and what makes us unique. To ask what our purpose is for the day allows us to start the day with a true north orientation.
Knowing what your purpose is allows you to harness one of the most powerful personal productivity tools. It gives you direction, vision, and motivation. When we add this to our daily planner, we add something that gives us immediate direction for the day.
This purpose should reflect what we want to see done during the day. What is the most important thing to be or do today? What is the impact or influence I want to leave on the world today? What are the needs you want to meet today?
As you look to set up the purpose for your day, look at how you can make this concrete and simple. You don’t have to solve every problem. You may even have a few purpose ideas that come to mind. Try to find the theme or idea that links your purposes together, that lines up with your life purpose. The shorter and simpler you can get, the more it will stick with you throughout the day.
A Prioritized Planner
After we have set up our purpose for the day, it’s time to get into our tasks and responsibilities. Keeping our purpose in mind, it’s time to determine how much each of our objectives fits with our purpose. Those things that align with our purpose should be put toward the top, recognizing them as the priorities for the day.
Look through your day and see what would best allow you to accomplish your purpose. Write this down in order down the page. I typically only leave room for 5-10 items each day. This allows for greater flexibility and commitment to each objective while not giving me too much wasted time doing nothing.
Some of you may have a point of disagreement here. “My work does not allow me to set up a system like this.” I totally understand this! A meeting that you hate but is mandatory is not necessarily going to get you to your purpose. In fact, it might even move you the other direction. The point of this planner isn’t to map out all of the things you do each day. This daily planner is meant to give you focus and motivation toward doing something meaningful each day.
Your daily work will come into this in many ways, but the point isn’t to list out every task or responsibility. When we record what we are doing for the entire day, we productivity can suffer. We should be adding things to our optimized calendar as they come up in order to track all of our assignments and duties. This daily planner allows us to go deeper and offers the opportunity to pursue purpose and priorities intentionally each day.
A Planner for Reflection
The final piece of this planner is its reflection section. As I was studying for my master’s program, I did a lot of research and work around experiential learning. We learn through each and every thing we do throughout the day. We develop habits and ideas, systems and attitudes.
One of the common themes in almost any learning system is the need for reflection. For anyone who wants to maximize their day, reflection is almost as important as the experiences themselves. This is because our reflection on our day allows us to strengthen mental connections and form more solid memories about what we have gone through.
One way to look at this is to think back to a particularly good or bad moment from your past. We tend to remember these experiences with vivid detail. Why is this? It’s because we have relived those moments in our minds and even out loud over and over. You probably reflected on the memories that same day without even noticing it. Maybe you still tell stories about the memory or perhaps it comes to mind during similar experiences now. All of this reflection strengthens the memories and increases the learning.
All of this is important for our daily productivity planner because we want to make the most out of each day. When we reflect, we can note the things that went well as well as the areas of struggle. We can see where we lost track of our purpose or where our priorities fell out of place. This can be a source of incredible learning.
For our daily planner, write down the things you feel are important from your day as they relate to your purpose. Where did you succeed in pursuing your purpose? Where did you fail? Where was there challenge and where did you learn something new?
We all need some help planning out our daily lives. We need to find ways of maximizing the productivity tools available to us. A daily planner focused on purpose can do exactly that. This is the very best day planner I have ever had. It can sharpen your focus and keep you motivated. Write down these headings in a pocket journal and start new each day. Carry it around with you and look at it from time to time to keep on track. Use it as a reminder and as an organizer for your day.
So how does this work for you? When you have tried out this system, I would love to hear your comments and get your feedback. Take a look at the free printable daily planner template and get started today!
Printable Daily Planner Template