The Daily Planner is different than the typical daily schedule you’re used to seeing.
If you have difficulties scheduling your day, our daily planner can be filled in 3 progressive levels of organization:
- Completing the single biggest task for the day
- Listing out other things to accomplish (and list some things to avoid)
- For more detail, schedule your day down to the hour
With this approach you can start light and eventually turn yourself into the ultra-efficient and productive person you want to be.
To download the The Daily Planner template, along with every other planning template on the site, put your email in the form below and we’ll instantly send them to your inbox so you can print them at home:
Why This Planner Will Work For You
I suck at staying organized, planning my time, and scheduling.
I’ve tried many, many times to sort my time properly, to be a more productive… but always run out of steam when it comes to maintaining and adhering to my schedule.
Failure #1: Trendy Planners
I looked up the possible solutions and decided to buy one of those trendy planners that you map out your day and write a bunch of needless things like affirmations, relationships, how much water I drink, and what I’m “grateful” for.
I didn’t want a planner that was a pocket therapist, I wanted to get things done.
Eventually I burned out on these constantly trying to fill them up and feeling like I was wasting my time.
Failure #2: To-Do Lists
One thing I was always decent at was to-do lists. My problem with those, however, is I write one and it gets lost somewhere and I forget about its existence entirely.
I’ve found more incomplete to-do lists buried in my computer and on random blank notebooks than I’d like to admit.
Failure #3: Digital Planners
I tried to keep a few different online and digital planners. The problem here was whenever I wasn’t using them, they were just another invisible app on my phone and computer that I never bothered to check.
Failure #4: White Boards
I even tried a white board, but it became wallpaper and I eventually ignored it as well.
Despite this, lists were what I’ve had the most success with.
Failure #5: Distractions
Another issue was distractions. I dubbed myself “The King of Wasting Time”.
I can game endlessly, browse Reddit endlessly, get sucked into a YouTube vortex for hours, binge on an entire season of a TV show in one sitting. I always found time for these distractions, but not for what was actually important to me.
What finally worked
Knowing I fail completely at maintaining common schedules, and to-do lists kind of work for me, I had to come up with SOMETHING.
Since I always forgot my to-do lists, and distractions always crept their way into my day, if I wrote out what’s important and what’s distracting every single day then I won’t forget what’s important, and I’ll be more aware of when I’m wasting my time.
This system worked better for me than I ever thought it would, and it can work for you.
Filling Your Daily Planner Each Day
Why write a fresh to-do list and schedule every day?
Writing out what you need to get done every single day will help you best map out exactly what is most important to do within the context of the day.
This will also keep what’s most important to do in your thoughts as the day goes on.
By taking a few minutes to set out what’s most important and least important each individual day, you can greatly increase your chances of participating more in the good, and less in the bad.
If you’re not writing these things down, you’re going to organize your day in your head, and we all know how that works out.
Each Daily Planner Section Explained
Day and Date
This is simple, set the day and the date of today’s schedule.
Goal And Actual Wake-up Time
A great piece of general advice in life is that you should attempt to wake up at the same time each day (yes, even on weekends). This will give you so much more control over your days and allow for fewer days to completely drift out of your control.
Most Important Thing To Accomplish Today
Out of the entire planner, this is probably the most vital section.
As suggested by Tim Ferriss, if you can accomplish just one important goal for the day then you should consider that day a success.
Most people don’t get a single productive thing done in their day, so if you can get one thing done each day, in a year you’ll have 365 different accomplishments under your belt. Not bad.
Most Important Thing To NOT Do Today
If goals and responsibilities are the Yin, distractions are the Yang.
There’s likely one big thing you take part in every single day that isn’t beneficial to you, your health, or your future, but you do it simply out of habit or because you “enjoy” it.
These distractions are holding you back far more than you would like to believe.
Even if you only spend 30 minutes per day on a particular wasteful habit (and it’s likely more than one), extrapolating that out, that’s roughly 180 hours per YEAR you could have spent on something that would improve the quality of your life.
That’s four and a half full work weeks dedicated to something that isn’t helping you.
So, in this section, write down your key distraction and try to not to do it AT ALL today.
Since we’re all not perfect, you can grade how well you avoided this distraction if you still did it a bit.
If you fail utterly in your first attempt, don’t be discouraged. Use each day to go from “Binged” to “Did a bit” to “Didn’t do” and try to keep it that way once you have completely abstained.
Want To Do – Goals
This to-do list is split into 4 separate lists. The first of them is your “Wants”. The want to-do list is based on your goals you’ve laid out in your Year Plan, Monthly Planner, and Weekly Planner, they’re the tasks that take you one step closer to accomplishing your goals and attaining the future you want.
It’s best to use this list as a “rolling” list. Write your highest priorities from the top, and when you complete your Most Important Thing from the first section, you can assign the #1 on this list to the Most Important Thing tomorrow (assuming you completed your #1 for the day).
You can even tag a to-do task as Urgent and/or Important, to have your planner double as an Eisenhower Matrix.
If you’re having a productive day, nail as many tasks as you can on this list. If not, be content with getting the most important thing done, and start fresh tomorrow.
Don’t Want To Do – Distractions
This section is to list out all the things you do in a day that aren’t helpful to your life, yet you impulsively do them.
On your “Distractions” section, it’s important to be honest.
List out your current unhelpful habits, and fill in how much you indulged in them. For the following day, it’s a good idea to completely abstain, or “sacrifice”, the distraction you binged on most and make it the Most Important Thing To NOT Do tomorrow.
Some distractions, to name a few:
- Sports (watching, reading about, discussing online)
- Online shopping (even browsing)
- Current events and politics (including reading blogs, online discussion)
- Video games (watching, playing, discussing)
- Excessive online chatting (Skype, Discord, Hangouts, etc)
- Habitual phone conversations
- Much, much more.
Have To Do – Responsibilities
These are the important things you have to do in a day which focus around responsibilities and not your goals. Things you have to do, as the name implies. This can include:
- Going to work
- Making your bed
- Cleaning your room
- Paying bills
- Calling your parents
- Cooking/Eating breakfast
- Meal prepping
Anything that you have to do in the day that involves responsibility. You may have things that are so automatic and easy in your life that you don’t need a reminder here, those are the responsibilities you can avoid writing (things like brushing your teeth).
This section is more for “getting out of the way” so you can focus more on your goals. When you’ve handled all your responsibilities, you can focus on what’s really important to you: Your goals.
Like To Do – Fun & Activities
Taking part in fun activities you plan within your day is much different than a distraction. This is why they get their own section.
Watching sports endlessly, reading about them online, discussing online, checking highlights, watching post-game analysis… that’s a distraction.
Anticipating a game you want to see, setting time aside for it, and watching it, that is a fun activity.
The difference here is you’re watching the game because you want to, not because you have nothing better to do while avoiding your responsibilities.
You need fun in your days, and fun is just as important as working on goals and responsibility.
Try and schedule fun things that are fulfilling for you and you’ll feel like your days are complete and valuable.
Some fun activities you write out on any given day include:
- Exercise (unless this isn’t fun, then you can put it on responsibilities 😄)
- Read a book (pages instead of time spent reading seems to work better)
- Take a walk or hike
- Meet with friends
- Party or a fun night out
- Watch upcoming game
- Watch an episode of a TV show or a movie
- A planned trip
Doing only fun things with your responsibilities lurking in the back of your mind saps the enjoyment out of them, making you feel even worse after you’re done.
Balancing fun and responsibility is the key to complete and fulfilling days!
Review Your Day
Reviewing your day is helpful to accelerate your pace toward more productive days.
You can’t have a perfect day every time, so write down what could have gone better, what got in your way, how you can improve, and strive for that tomorrow.
Using The Daily Planner
We get nothing we want in this life without sacrifice.
If you wish to become an elite athlete, you have to make many sacrifices like giving up eating food you previously enjoyed and take on a strict diet, give up alcohol, sleep more while others are out in order to be the best.
Doing something meaningful requires sacrifice, and for many people those sacrifices can come in the form of the bad habits that fill our days.
This planner will not only help you target and isolate bad habits, but it will give you plenty of options of what you can do instead.
For some further reading on planning your day, check our guide on how to plan your day effectively.
Keeping a physical planner with you will greatly help you use it consistently.