Getting things, and getting the right things done. That’s what it all comes down to.

Thinking about the future is super useful. But, at some point you have to organise yourself on a daily basis, and actually get things done.

I have a very specific process for planning my days, and getting things done. It hasn’t changed much over the last few years, and had settled down – or at least I thought it had.

Over the last few months, I’ve made a few changes. They’ve helped take my daily planning and execution to the next level. I wanted to share them.

Here are the four things I’ve changed recently:

1. When I plan my days

I planned my days in the morning for as long as I can remember. It’s been the foundation of my morning routine.

But, what I’ve realised recently is that morning routines need to be more flexible (more on that in another post). Increasingly, I found myself not managing to get my daily plan done in the morning. And this led me to becoming unfocused for the day.

So, I started experimenting with doing it the night before. I’ll sit down at about 9PM, briefly reflect on the day, and then do my plan for the next day. It’s been a bit of a game changer. I’m much more consistent in my daily planning, which was the main problem I was trying to solve. But, there are other benefits. I now go to bed knowing what tomorrow looks like – which is a great feeling. I’ve drifted towards taking a few moments to reflect how the day went. My mornings also no longer have a planning component to them. It’s made them simpler, and more enjoyable.

2. Tracking daily habits better

I have a handful of habits that I pretty much want to do every day. Right now they are:

  • eat paleo
  • Intermittent fasting (8 hour eating window, 16 hour fasting window)
  • consume approx 2K calories
  • drink 3 litres of water
  • reach out to at least one person (friend, colleague, or a new person)

I’ve always found it difficult to incorporate these into a daily plan. They are more behaviours and habits I want to do every day – than they are action items.

I started to jot these habits in short hand at the top right of my daily plan. It helps make a clearer distinction between them and the other action items. That helped me keep them front of mind throughout the day – which is helping me be much more consistent with them. It ‘s also encouraged me to reflect on how well I stuck to these behaviours, as part of my daily planning.

3. Keeping it on paper

I always start my daily planning in my moleskine notebook. And from there, I would use todoist to organise the time blocks and action items for the day. But, I was finding I lost sight of them throughout the day because they were tucked away in my phone. This started to cause me to drift away from my plan throughout the day.

So, I started experimenting with ripping out the daily plan page from my notepad, and keeping it in front of me. When I’m at my desk, it’s right in front of me, When I’m on the move, it’s folded up in my pocket. This has helped keep the plan in front of me throughout the day. I’m now more aware of my plan, and stick to it more often.

4. Combining work and life

I’ve always kept the capture and time blocking part of my daily planning for work and the rest of my life separate. I had a different process for both the capture and time blocking for each.

Over the last few months, I’ve started to combine them a bit. I still start by capturing only life things. But, when I time block out the day, I combine both high level work stuff (meetings, focus blocks etc.) and life stuff. This helps me think about the day holistically, and forces me to think about the balance. I still have some separate process for capture and smaller item planning at work. But, now most of my thinking about the day is combined.

COVID-19 / lockdown pushed me to think this way. Before lockdown came in, I had a big separation between work and life – mostly in the form of leaving the house and going to the office. When this disappeared, I really struggled. But, over time, I found myself thinking more holistically about the day, and this changed how I planned it.

The above four things aren’t massive in themselves. But combined, they add up to a pretty decent step forward in my daily planning, and how I get things done.

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