Most of us have used some kind of daily planner at one time or another. Even if you only jot down your notes on a piece of paper, you are still making a “plan” for the daily use of your time. Regardless of our position in life, we all have twenty-four hours in the day to spend doing something.
The Day-Timer Company published a list of five suggestions for a more successful day not long ago. I read through it with great interest. I thought I would share these ideas with you and add some of my own insights, thoughts and suggestions.
1. Make effective use of downtime by having a book or article with you to pass the time. That is a good tip and one that I practice. I always carry articles or a book that I am reading with me for that very purpose. I am amazed at how much downtime inadvertently occurs in the average day. It may be just for fifteen minutes here or five minutes there, but rather than being upset because someone is wasting your time, why not have a pre-planned strategy for using that “unexpected downtime” to help nourish your mind and life with good information and reading material?
2. Break larger projects into smaller ones that are easily accomplished. I once read that inside every big problem are several little problems trying to crawl out! Although that is a humorous way to look at our problems and challenges, I certainly believe that is true! I know you have heard the saying that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Most of us get overwhelmed with projects when they seem too big to tackle. Yet, in living by the motto, “Just do the next right thing,” I find that big projects and challenges can be more easily handled. You cannot complete school in one day. A baby is not born in one week. And you can’t eat an entire meal in one bite. All of these are processes that require several steps along the way.
Do not let life beat you up by making you think you haven’t accomplished your goals simply because you are at the starting point or middle phase of a project. Just stay on the journey day by day and complete the smaller steps until the bigger goal is reached.
3. Keep a clutter-free work surface. This is a tough one for me! While I certainly think it is good idea to be organized and keep your work area as clutter free as possible, I find that I get more accomplished by having lots of “piles” around me. That way I can see what needs to be done. I know there are probably many differing opinions on this topic, but I find that if I file something away, I may lose it for weeks, or maybe for life! Out of sight is out of mind! This is probably more of a personal organization issue that all of us must work through for ourselves. If you find that keeping your work area spotless helps you do a better job, then I would encourage you to do it. However, if you find that keeping things spread out helps you to be more efficient, then I certainly think that is acceptable as well. Again, it is not a matter of which way is right, but which way is more productive for you.
4. Touch paper only once and decide immediately what you need to do with it. Just so you can know that I am human and still on this journey with you, I find that to be an unrealistic idea. I would love to observe someone who could do that! Maybe if you are God then that would work fine, but most people I know have absolutely no concept of how to make that work. Please hear me well, I am not belittling the concept of being more organized, but I am not going to feel guilty because I touch a piece of paper more than one time. If you can do that, great! But, in my opinion, whoever thought of that concept does not live on this planet!
5. Create and prioritize your “to-do list” each day to concentrate on the ones most important to your productivity. That, I believe, is some of the wisest advice that a person could ever receive. Hardly a day goes by that I do not create a list and number the items. Just the other day I had ten items on my list and the number one item was all I finished by the end of the day. But, because I had prioritized my list and completed the number one most important activity of my day, I considered it a very successful day. I also felt as though the other nine items paled in comparison to the one item I successfully accomplished. I was able to work on the rest of the list the next day, but I can assure you that if I had not finished the first item, it would have weighed heavily on me, even if I had successfully completed the other nine items. Until you do this on an ongoing basis, you will never see the value of this simple, yet profound truth. It can make the difference between having a successful day or a frustrating one.
So, there you have the 5 tips for planning success from the Day-Timer Company with my added insights and suggestions. I hope that this information is helpful and has caused you to smile. I also hope it will help you modify what you do daily in order to be as successful as possible.
Tip: 5 tips for planning success!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm