If you don’t plan out your day ahead of time, you should. It’s one of the most important things you can do to increase productivity. I specifically recommend getting an actual day planner, but planner or calendar apps will work too depending on your preference. It’s a great way to give some structure to your day and make your daily tasks more manageable. In this article I make my case for planning out your day ahead of time.
Here’s how my schedule looks today as I’m writing this article:
- wakeup/brush teeth/shower
- breathing exercises(breath-holds and pranayama are part of my morning routine)
- buy toothpaste and fluoride at pharmacy
- eat breakfast if I feel like it
- write 2 articles
- work on email autoresponder sequence
- work out
- Call Transunion – there is a discrepancy on my credit report… They didn’t get my birthday right…
- take notes for podcast tonight
- set up for podcast
- record podcast with Wells
- post-recording session to review mistakes and improvements
- relax, maybe get some reading done
This is a pretty light day, but I still have quite a bit to get done. I don’t always get everything done on my schedule, but writing it down and giving myself a general path to go down when I’m starting the day helps tremendously to make my day more productive. If I didn’t plan ahead, I would be lost and have no chance.
The Process Of Planning Gives Your Mind a Dress Rehearsal
When I plan out my day, I generally do it the night before as I’m getting ready to go to sleep. This way it’s one of the last things that is on my mind before I go to sleep. It’s interesting because for the most part, the last thing you imprint upon your mind before you go to sleep is the thing your mind works on while you sleep. I’m not saying that I’m going to have dreams about my schedule all night long, but when I plan ahead just before I go to bed, I wake up in the morning ready to go and knowing exactly what I have to do.
What planning the night before also does is give your mind a kind of dress rehearsal. If you are experienced with self-improvement principles and ideas, you may have heard of visualization and how effective it can be. The idea is that your mind cannot tell the difference between something you imagine, and actual reality. (Think of a dream that feels so real you have trouble believing it didn’t happen once you wake up.) Keeping this in mind, we can actually get experience by rehearsing an action, technique, or scenario in our head repeatedly.
An example is a study done with basketball players looking to improve their free throw shooting.
The players were split into two groups. Each group shot a predetermined amount of free throws each day to practice, but one of the two teams added a visualization component to their training. They were to imagine themselves shooting free throws and making each one. At the end of the training period, guess who outperformed the other? The team who had been adding visualization to their training did significantly better.
How do we use this to our advantage? Simply by writing down your schedule, in the order you plan to complete your tasks for the day, you are giving your mind a chance to have this dress rehearsal by visualizing how your day is going to go. It gives your mind something to focus on, and because our minds cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality, we can actually experience our day ahead of time and “practice” going through the motions.
It Gives You A Checklist for the Day
Lastly, writing down your schedule ahead of time makes your day more manageable. When you write down all of the tasks you need to complete for the day, you essentially make a checklist or a to-do list. Instead of having a formless blob of things you have to do in your head and leaving the possibility of forgetting something, putting things down on paper will break down this to-do blob into a to-do list.
Once you have this, you can focus on one task at a time, instead of trying to do a million things at once. I’m not sure how you feel about multitasking, but I can’t do it. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time and focus all of my energy and attention on it. That way I can give my all to something, get it done, and move on to the next one.
Write down your schedule ahead of time. If you can, do it before going to bed and give your mind a chance to practice and experience your day ahead of time. It will help you to be more focused, and also make things more manageable by breaking down large tasks into chunks that you can accomplish one at a time.
Even if you don’t write a “schedule”, at the very least write down a to-do list. I can’t think of any downsides, it can only help you by giving your mind some heads up before diving into your tasks for the day.