How To Get Your Money's Worth With Your Planner
In the song "Diva" by Beyonce, there's a line that I personally love: "Since 15 in my stilettos been strutting this game." A more accurate line for me would be "Since 15 with my planners been strutting this game," although admittedly that line lacks the gravitas of Beyonce's lyrics...However, at this point I've used so many different planners and planning methods that I basically consider myself a human guinea pig for products related to maximizing one's time! Some of these tricks have helped me ensure that when I buy a planner, I'm truly getting my money's worth!
1) Write down your top 5 tasks in your planner, labeling them from "Most Important Task of the Day" to "Secondary Tasks of Importance" and finally "Additional Tasks"
2) Ensure that your tasks are written effectively. Are they concrete? Actionable? Self explanatory? Do they perhaps need to be broken up into smaller tasks? Getting this right will substantially increase your ability to get things done. Another way this is often phrased is in terms of SMART goals, an acronym for: Specific
3) If you're like me and you do employ the Pomodoro method, approximate the number of Pomodoros you will complete for each task by filling in the target boxes for each task.
4) When it's time to begin a Pomodoro, clear your environment of distractions. Begin the timer and focus on the Most Important Task of the Day. When the 25 minutes are up, take a 5 minute break and keep going. Don't even begin to tackle Task #2 prior to completing Task #1. This is essential to the creation of flow.
5) Once you've done the Most Important Task of the Day, move on to Task #2 from Additional Tasks and so on.
6) At the end of the work day, fill in your Productivity Score on a scale of 1-10 and reflect on both what went well and what could be improved?
4) Finally, prior to the current day ending or the next morning, fill in the tasks for the next work day. This helps you to achieve longer term goals. This is a vital step in the process because it helps you commence the next workday knowing precisely what needs to be accomplished. I personally have noticed that if I don't plan my day ahead of time, it significantly hinders my productivity.
6) When investing in a planner, I strongly recommend finding one that has some extra blank space for ideas, future tasks, inspiration, etc. This can include everything from grocery lists to emails you need to send, habits you want to track, etc.