The 90 Day Plan I wrote about a couple of weeks ago is a great way to identify and work towards your goals-to create a life you love, in a short amount of time. It does its job bridging the gap between your long range plans, making them easier to work towards now, and into the near future.
The issue that many struggle with is how to take those big plans and scale them down to a manageable level. How to keep those long term goals in mind, while also planning out your day-to-day life. Where do your daily priorities fit in, those things that must get done NOW versus the things that can get done later and are usually a part of your 90 Day Plan?
Usually it’s the things that must be done NOW, things Stephen Covey called crises or emergencies that get the most attention in our lives. Leaving the goals that will make a difference to your life, undone-yet again. Leaving you disappointed and wondering why you just can’t seem to do the things that most matter to you. Things that will bring you joy and connection with your life’s purpose.
I have to admit that I have always been pretty organized in creating and keeping a calendar. However, using a calendar helped me keep track of appointments, but didn’t help me get things done. When I realized I was using a calendar as a reminder of appointments, but not as a tool to get things done, I did more research. I knew something had to change!
Expert upon expert advises scheduling everything you want to get done each day into scheduled time chunks. Taking your “to do” list and scheduling it into your calendar-by the hour. I started to do this, scheduling in my “to do’s” as appointments. I assigned a specific time in my calendar to the priorities that I knew would bring me joy and closer to my life goals. The same goals that I never seemed to have time for because of emergencies that would arise throughout the day.
My priorities that I started including in my daily schedule were things like: exercise, writing, family time, etc…each and every day. I put these priorities into my calendar every day and reviewed them every night. Reviewing this list daily is essential.
Every night before bed I would review the list of my “to do’s” from the week to see where I was able to get them done that day and areas where I wasn’t successful. I would then assign those goals a time in my calendar for the next day, moving me closer to completing my goals.
When I got up in the morning, I started on my “to do” list and found this system to be more successful than what I was doing before. In fact, this use of my calendar was much more successful than any other system I’ve used, and so much easier. But still, it was not as effective as I wanted.
The main thing that was missing from this plan was that each day, I never made it past the first two or three things on my “to do” list.
Before…I get to why I never made it past the first two or three things from my “to do” list, I want to share what I learned through keeping a daily calendar that changed my life. I learned about my habits.
This alone is a great reason to start scheduling out your time each day. Identifying and learning about your habits is one of the most powerful things you can do to create change in your life. In scheduling out your day according to your goals you can identify where you’re actually spending most of your time.
The habit I identified in my day-to-day schedule is that I didn’t allow enough time for each activity I planned. I created long “to do” lists and didn’t allow enough time to get them done. I see this with clients who haven’t been able to achieve short term or long term goals in their lives. The result is that they think they can’t get anything done, and they procrastinate because that habit seems to be more effective (and comfortable) than this new way of managing one’s time! The reality, is that we just need to allot more time to each activity on the calendar!
It’s really that simple.
Instead of feeling bad that you can’t get through all of your “to do’s” you need to allow enough time for each item on that list to get done. Easy fix.
In my own life, I started doubling the time I thought it would take to get something done. I advise my clients to do the same. A meeting that I thought would take one hour, I now reserve two hours for on my calendar. The good news is that I don’t run out of time when getting the most essential things done. Also, if I find I have extra time, because I allotted too much time to one of my goals, it’s a great treat. I can simply move on to the next thing on my list or simply relax until the next scheduled “appointment”.
The most important and useful thing I learned from using my calendar daily is knowing when I have the most energy, focus, and stamina for working on complex tasks. I work best in the morning. Anything I truly want to get done, I need to do before noon. I know to schedule these tasks (with enough time to get them done) as well as things I don’t want to do, before noon. This ensures that I can be successful daily, while working on my long term goals.
Questions I ask myself that will be helpful to you when planning your daily schedule are:
- When am I at my best?
- When do I have the most energy?
- What are things I’ve really wanted to do and haven’t done because of lack of time?
Make a plan that includes the following:
- Create a “to do” list with two to three important goals you want to work on each day. Schedule a time to work on those top goals each day, at the time where you are at your best.
- Notice if you’re accomplishing your daily goals. If you’re not-look at your patterns and habits and how they aren’t working for you. Adjust as needed.
- Keep your 90 day goals in mind as you’re planning out your weekly and daily schedule. Break those goals into manageable chunks. I have a wonderful chart I use personally and also share with clients of how to do this.
As you begin the process of effectively using your calendar, you’ll find that using the strategies I’ve outlined here will actually allow you to create more time in your schedule for your most important goals. You will be shocked when you start using this system how much you get done in a day and how much extra time you have for things you enjoy! You will also begin to check off your 90 day goals within 90 days and greatly increase your chance of reaching those goals! You will feel more productive, fulfilled and like you’re living in alignment with your life’s purpose.