Everyone wants to be more productive. We want to accomplish more in less time, be more organized, have less email to answer, less meetings, more effectiveness. Yet, no matter how many books we read, we feel more stressed out about it.
Here is one tip that everyone I’ve ever talked to who is productive, organized and accomplishes a lot.
They all do this.
Plan your day.
Sound simple right?
Most people simply let their day come at them. They might have things they need to get done: take the kids to school, go to work, write a sermon, attend a meeting, go to a bible study, answer emails, but they haven’t thought about what they need to accomplish and if it is that important.
Now, some people advocate planning their day at night and if that works for you, great. I can’t do that. If I plan my day the night before, I tend to lay in bed and think about the upcoming day and struggle to fall asleep. Instead, after I eat breakfast and after I’ve had some coffee and read my bible I sit down and lay out my day.
Here are some helpful questions:
- What has to get done today? A lot of what you are going to do today, you don’t have to do or someone else could do. This gets back to your goals for life. What do you hope to be or do? Often, we simply respond to fire or things that urgently appear on our calendars. Instead, plan what is important and accomplish that.
- What if I accomplished it, would make today feel like a success? This is a crucial question and sometimes the answer is only one thing, not many. Sometimes it is 3 things. Each day if you can answer this question and accomplish the answer to this question, it will go so far to reaching your goals for your life and accomplishing what God put you on earth to do.
- Do I need to be in that meeting? Have you ever sat in a meeting and thought, “Do I have to be here?” If so, you didn’t plan your day, you let someone else plan your day. Now, I know you have to be in some meetings because you get paid to be there, but you could talk to your boss about better ways to do meetings. Many times we have meetings simply to have meetings. Churches are notorious for this. Don’t do something just to do something.
- Give everything important a minute. Everything that is important or that gets done has a time attached to it. If something matters, it gets put on the calendar. Whether that is soccer practice, family dinner, writing a sermon, date night, exercise, reading a book or taking a nap. Everything that gets accomplished gets a minute. People ask how I exercise or read. The answer is that I schedule it. When that time rolls around, it is time to do crossfit, it is time to read. This helps me decide what I want to do and then do it. Too many people simply allow their lives to happen and then they end up tired, watching too much TV or letting someone else plan their life. By giving a minute to one thing, you are keeping a minute from something else.
- How can I add value to others today? One of the best ways to not waste your day and be productive is to help others, serve others and benefit others. Yes, this will take time and maybe away from something else, but you will not waste time when you help others.
The bottom line is your day will go to something, someone will plan your day. You can either take an active role in that planning or a passive role. I think you’ll agree, the ones who are productive, less stressed and more fulfilled are the ones who take an active role and plan their day.