With all the conflicting organizational and productivity strategies on the market, it can be hard to find a practical organizational solution that really works on a daily basis. I’ve tried Stephen Covey’s First Things First strategy of prioritizing tasks into quadrants of importance, as well as David Allen’s GTD strategy of next actions. I picked up Julie Morgenstern’s book, Time Management from the Inside Out and enjoyed her analyze, strategize, and attack solution.
But when I tried to setup a paper or electronic solution I found that most organizational systems just didn’t work for me. The Covey solution required too much time to figure out individual priorities, the next actions of David Allen were clunky in Outlook, and Julie’s Time Map solution was a little difficult to setup.
Yet each system had some really good points. So I took the best strategies from each solution and created a Top-Six Daily Planning Sheet. This printable daily planner sheet is quick to use and has places for all of your daily activities.
The Printable Daily Planner Includes…
1. The Top Six Daily Priority Boxes
2. Sidebar Boxes for Email, Phone Calls, Meetings, and Planning
3. A Step by Step To-Do list
4. A Place for Daily Goal Planning
5. A Place to Capture After Hour Activities
Here is how it works…
The way I use the sheet is to print a new one each morning. I then take a pen and write down my top priorities for the day. Sometimes I only have a few and sometimes I will fill in all six. Under each priority, I usually jot down a next-action.
As I open email and throughout the day, I’ll write down people that I need to email back in the email section. I do the same thing with voicemail and phone calls. I usually write down any meetings or appointments in the meeting box.
Once I have the basic information filled out, I’ll create a simple to do list. It’s really easy to do when you have your top priorities right in front of you. With the next actions listed, it’s easy to get started.
Strategies For Setting Priorities.
1. Ask yourself six things that you want/must to get done by the end of the day. Make sure they are truly important, not just urgent.
2. If you are a motivated type person, list your hardest task first. The rest of the day will just get easier.
3. If you find it hard to get going, list an easy task first. Do it first thing. This will get you moving and make it easy to check off your first box.
4. Check off your priorities as you complete them. This will motivate you to go on.
4. List your after work activities like exercise in the after hours box.
The Top-Six Daily Planner is a free download. The zip file includes a MS publisher version that you can modify and a PDF version that you can use without any additional software.
At the end of each day, store your printable daily planner sheet in a three ring notebook. As the days go by, this will create a daily journal of your activities that you can easily refer back to.
The books listed above have a myriad of good organization and planning ideas. Using this sheet along with these strategies will help you get more done and maybe even help you go home earlier. 🙂