Do you dive into each day without a game plan? Are you easily sidetracked? Do you procrastinate on the important (but boring) stuff, then kick yourself when the day’s over and you still didn’t manage to get it done?
Wouldn’t it be great to arrive calm, prepared and on time to everywhere you needed to be? To feel happy and connected. Grateful for another amazing day – and looking forward to another one tomorrow.
The secret to this involves a little light planning at the start of each day. Instead of just doing whatever’s in front of your face, it’s time to Design Your Day.
I created this printable day planner to help busy mothers stay focused, stop wasting time and be more mindful as you move about your day. No more going off-piste!
The feedback I get on this Design My Day Action Sheet. is phenomenal! (I’ll share some it further down.) I’m now working on a lovely spiral bound version that’ll be up for sale on Amazon later this year.
I’ll walk you through each section of Design My Day here:
1. Give gratitude.
Jot a short note about whatever you’re feeling particularly grateful for today. A daily practice of feeling gratitude for what you already have brings more good stuff into your life. Really!
2. Choose your feelings.
We spend too much time thinking of what we have to do and not enough on how we want to feel when we’re doing it. Write three words that best describe how you’d like to feel today. If your day ahead is jam packed, you might choose to feel: Calm. Peaceful. Mindful. With those desired feelings guiding your day, you’ll get it done in a better frame of mind. For a family day at home, you may choose to feel: Connected. Present. Playful. Is someone in your life driving you nuts? You might want to feel: Patient. Loving. Kind. I often choose the word FLOW as I know that when I approach my to-dos with a sense of flow, it all feels more effortless.
3. Schedule in events and prepare for success.
Refer to your calendar and jot down where you have to be today and when. What can you do to make it all go smoothly? Do you need to take snacks and a swimming bag for the lesson, forms to the appointment, retainer to the orthodontist, eco bags to the supermarket? Park it all by the front door so you’re not flying around last-minute. Leave some gaps so you can slot in some other things . . . Could you prep dinner earlier? Run an errand on the way to school? Use this valuable space to prepare for a successful day!
4. Identify your three most important tasks.
Your three MITs are the tasks you most want or need to get done today. Check your to-do list and if there’s anything Important and Urgent (i.e. it must be done today or tomorrow at the latest), make it one of your three MITs. If not, choose something that has a deadline coming up and get it out of the way so it doesn’t become urgent. (Read this if it all feels important and urgent.) It’s also a good idea to choose a small-step action towards one of your goals to ensure you make steady progress. Focus on doing your chosen three MITs first before you get sucked into anything else. You have the most focus and energy at the start of your day and leaving it until later means a much greater chance something else will get in the way.
5. Next add a few more things from your to-do list.
Once you’ve done your three MITs, what else would be great to get done today? You might not get to all (or any) of these, but it’s good to have something to aim for. Remember – even if something’s not urgent yet, it’s good to get it done now before it becomes urgent. Often I need to carry tasks in this section over to the next day, but as long as I get my three MITs done, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.
6. Phone calls and emails.
Instead of making phone calls throughout the day, note the calls you need to make and do them all at once. Stay out of your inbox as much as possible and set a time limit once you do go in. Write down anyone you need to email and send those mails before you get caught up in fresh ones. I know, easier said than done . . . There’s a nice white space at the bottom for all of those extra thoughts and notes that pop up throughout the day. You can refer to those when designing your next day.
‘Design My Day is life-changing. It really helps me to focus on what I need to do, instead of drifting through the day with a vague list of things in my head. Writing things down makes a HUGE difference!’—Abbie
‘The DMD sheets are a real godsend! They help organise my thoughts for the day ahead, cutting through the clutter and brain fog! I always do one the night before as it suits my night owl tendencies – then hit the ground running the next day. My son calls them my ‘mummy planner’. —Fiona
Important note: A mother’s life is unpredictable. Just when you’re getting started on your first MIT, you get a call from the school nurse and have to drop everything. Try to see unforeseen setbacks as opportunities to model flexibility to your children. The earlier they learn to adapt to altered plans the better. Do your best and stop beating yourself up for not getting it ALL done. Never be a slave to your to-do list. Feeling love and finding joy in each day is what’s truly important.
Extra Time Management Tips:
Create an ongoing errands list and batch them together so you’re not always heading off to the shops.
Practise saying no to people and things that aren’t a priority for you. When you say yes to others, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.
Pay attention to your time-leaks. When you spend time doing mindless stuff that isn’t even fulfilling, you’re taking away from the meaningful things that would make a positive difference in your life.
I work with women one-to-one via Skype or Google Hangouts to get into great productivity and time management habits and create long-term systems that make a huge difference to their life. Book in for one of my Master Your To-Do List sessions – you won’t regret it.
Time to TAKE ACTION: Print out several Design My Day Action Sheets and commit to doing this for two whole weeks. You’ll soon discover how much better your days flow when you design them with intention.
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In the comments below, let me know what you think about designing your day on paper like this each day? What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to managing your time?
Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time.
Grab her free Life Wheel Tool for discovering what needs your focus first.