How to Design Your Day the Way YOU Want It To Go
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.
This free printable day planner sheet will help you to stay focused, stop wasting time and be more mindful as you move through your day. No more flying wildly off-piste!
I get the most wonderful feedback on this Design My Day Action Sheet. It’s the most downloaded of all Project Me Action Sheets!
*UPDATE! By popular request, I have now created a printed coil-bound 90-day version of the Design My Day / Design My Weekend planner! It’s undated so you can start anytime and won’t waste pages if you go away. This is for those who love the free version, but are tired of printing out individual pages. It comes with my top productivity and time management tips.
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 about 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. Make sure you do enough things from your ME Time Action Sheet too!
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
Time to TAKE ACTION: Sign up for my 7-Day Design My Day Challenge and commit to designing your days for a whole week, with daily tips and reminders from me to keep you on track. You’ll soon discover how much better your days flow when you design them with intention.
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?
photo credit: Tortured Mind Photography via photopin cc
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Ever since I first started working in a professional role I’ve known about prioritizing to-do list tasks with the four quadrants, but I really appreciated finding your “design my day” sheets and reading this blog just now. As a stay-at-home mum of a two-year old and pregnant with my second child, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, unproductive, and exhausted for a long time. I’ve only just started to have a little more time for myself with my son starting nursery and have just begun using the “design my day” sheets to try to take advantage of this extra time. One of the most useful things on the sheets is the “prepare for success” section. It’s brilliant! Writing down all those little things that you have to remember to bring with you before you head out the door is an amazing step towards getting to places on time. Ideally I’d like to get to the point where I do those things the night before. I’m not quite there yet as I am still quite exhausted at the end of day, but it’s a goal I have towards making my life a little more peaceful, less last-minute, and in the end, less stressful. Thank you so much for posting this!
Thank YOU for your wonderful feedback Al! I hope you don’t mind me sharing it on our Facebook page 🙂
I’m glad ‘Designing Your Day’ helps you feel that bit more organised and in control. Every little bit helps, right?! And yes, getting into the habit of thinking ahead of time of what you’ll need to take with you (instead of leaving it to last second!) is a great sanity saver.
Keep your goals in sight, you’re doing great!
[…] off a Design My Day Action Sheet and begin each day by identifying your 3 M.I.T’s (Most Important Tasks). Begin with […]
Love this! Once I have had my 3rd child (any day now!!) I am going to use this to help me form some kind of routine! If that’s possible!! Thank you x
You’re so welcome Liz and – wow – exciting week ahead for you!!! Wishing you a super smooth delivery of your special new arrival 🙂 Congrats!! xx
Thank you for this – going to give it a whirl!
One of the most helpful things I’ve found to make sure I have everything for my daughter is for her to have one bag for each activity she does – that bag is always prepped and ready to go – we just have to grab it out of the wardrobe. So when she’s been swimming, I wash her kit and then it goes straight back into her swimming bag – same with her dancing gear etc etc. It’s made getting ready and remembering everything so much easier!
Thanks for sharing your great ‘prepare for success’ tip with us all here Liz! It’s these small, forward thinking strategies that can make a huge difference to our sanity on busy days.
I hope you enjoy Designing Your Day 🙂
I’ve been meaning to tell you for months how much I love this worksheet! On days I use it, I really do stay on track and I like the prepare for success area which has saved me many times from forgetting to do something relating to an event. Then I have days I don’t use it and I ended up feeling frazzled again. So I can definitely see the different with and without it! I now have a folder of them printed so I have no excuses. Will you consider doing a planner out of these? Then I would absolutely use it daily.
I’m so happy to read this Tina! In my online programmes I require that all participants use it for one full week and then report back. They all LOVE it once they commit to it and, interestingly, when they inevitably slip and don’t use it for a while, they then feel the difference and come back to it!
I’ve been asked many times to get them turned into a proper planner and I’m working on it. If you’re not on my mailing list, hop on so you’ll be amongst the first to know 🙂