The daily action plan template is a simplified tool to get you past procrastination and allow you to take action on action steps to meet your goals. Here is the secret of this tool; it’s simple and unstructured. Let’s take a little journey to see how this tool can help you overcome the insidious power of an object at rest.
Here is the scenario. It’s 10 am and you haven’t made a dent in the day. Social media has engulfed the first two hours of your time and if you don’t do something quickly your whole morning will have been wasted. The problem is, you don’t know where to start. You have a looming project in front of you, but it is so tedious and complicated that it’s easier to just surf mindlessly on Facebook than to actually get started.
Sound familiar? I struggle with this scenario often. Over the years I’ve tried a number of tools and strategies to get started, but many actually make the problem worse. They actually make the day more tedious and more complicated. The reason for this is simple. Modern time management systems say we should work smarter and do important things first. So we make a to-do list of all the things we need to accomplish and then try and prioritize them into a strategic plan for the day.
Unfortunately, the mental fatigue of decision making quickly takes over. We start asking ourselves; What is important and what isn’t? The sheer size of most of our to-do lists is exhausting in itself. We have so many things to do and not enough time to do them. The instant gratification part of our minds take over and whispers; Might as well surf social media till noon and take another stab at the day after lunch.
In times like this, I’ve found one trick to move forward. The power is in its simplicity. All you need to do is take one thing on your to-do list and break it down into action steps. David Allen, in his famous book, Getting Things Done, calls these next actions.
David Allen describes the difference between what you’ll find on a next action list and a to-do list. He describes it this way:
90+ % of the to do lists I’ve seen are incomplete inventories of still-unclear things. The Next Action definition (if you’re really getting down to having no ambiguity about the next visible physical activity required to move something forward), actually finishes the thinking you’ve implicitly agreed with yourself that you’ll do. “Mom” is an unclarified to do item. But when “Mom” is translated into “Celebrate Mom’s birthday with a party” as a project outcome, then “Call Sis about what we should do for Mom’s birthday” is a clear next action. Because “Mom” is vague, it still triggers stress when you look at it on a list. “Call Sis . . . ” triggers action and positive engagement.
Daily Action Plan Template
To help you with this I’ve created a simple Daily Action Plan Template. At the top is an open area for Action planning, then there are four boxes below broken up into common action areas such as sending email, updating social media, making phone calls/sending texts, and a box for meeting with others.
Here is what the daily action plan template looks like.
The secret to making this template work is to use action verbs to describe the individual actions. I’ve intentionally left the daily action plan template free form so you can use it in different ways. Here are a few different scenarios for the top planning area.
- Write the project name on the left and the action step on the right
- Put the project name at the top and list action steps under it
- Just list actions that you want to take on the lines provided.
- For the media boxes just list the particular actions you want to take for each section. Be sure to include the addresses or phone numbers. By sending your emails or making your phone calls all at the same time, you make more efficient use of your time and will be much more likely to keep going than if you do each one per task.
The Daily Action Plan Template is a free download and comes in a PDF format.
While the daily action template is a great way to take initiative to overcome procrastination, you’ll still need a good strategy to overcome it. Here are some other resources to help you find success.
- Blogger, James Clear has a great guide to overcome procrastination.
- Michael Hyatt has five steps to overcoming procrastination that may help.
- Jeff Goins has a technique called reverse procrastination that is very interesting and may break the cycle.
Question: Do you suffer from procrastination? If so, what techniques have you found to overcome it?