We’ve all heard the saying that how we spend our days is essentially how we spend our lives. There’s a lot of truth in this statement, which is why it’s so important to spend your day in a way that moves you closer towards your goals. It’s also important to incorporate downtime and relaxation into your day so that you don’t get burned out.
I’ve found that planning my daily schedule ahead of time is the easiest way to be productive and still make time for the things I enjoy doing. There are so many ways to plan your day which can feel a little overwhelming, but I always get inspired when I learn about how others structure their daily schedules.
Throughout my blogging journey, I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with women who are doing incredible things yet somehow staying on top of their busy lives. One thing we all seem to have in common is that we love productivity hacks and finding ways to make our days a little less stressful.
I decided to ask a handful of my favorite people how they set their days up for success to get everything done on their to-do lists.
Despite having different jobs and responsibilities, they all recognize the importance of routines and planning. Keep scrolling to read about how these women plan their daily schedule to avoid procrastination and get things done efficiently!
10 Tips for Planning Your Daily Schedule
I’m a firm believer in the power of habits, and success for me begins with my morning routine! My morning routine includes yoga, meditation, journaling, and reading. Since I have a 9-5, I get most of my work done for my biz on the weekends and weeknights. Planning things intentionally is essential to getting things done. I take time every Sunday to plan my week and individual days. I take out a piece of paper and write down everything I want to do that week. Then I review & pick out my non-negotiables (blog post, newsletter, students/clients, etc.) and project-related tasks that help me achieve my goals.
Once I refine my list I plug everything into Asana and Google Calendar. Asana is where I manage my projects and recurring tasks, and Google Calendar helps me allocate when and for how long I’m going to work on something. Time blocking and the Pomodoro Method have been major game-changers for my productivity. Also, I’m a major planning nerd so I also have a paper planner. I’m currently using the Clever Fox Planner which is similar to a Bullet Journal, except the spreads are already made for you!
Lastly, success isn’t all about the hustle. I prioritize self-care into my schedule, which for me means not scheduling things to do so I can relax and recharge. Having white space on my calendar allows me to focus on me, which is very important! Some of my favorite self-care activities include yoga, reading, journaling, meditation, going for a walk/adventure outside, and of course, Netflix!
My daily planning starts by taking a week-at-a-glance look at my days. I take time every Sunday to plan out my week and figure out which days I’ll be working on certain projects. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays are client meetings and appointments and Thursdays are always podcast recording days. These to-do list tasks are also added to my weekly to-do list in my Mindful Productivity Planner and then I also break them down even further in ClickUp. My brain needs to both write things down and have a digital way of reminding me to do things.
While every day differs, there are a few key things I strive for that help me stay on track:
1) I spend a little time at the end of each work day reflecting on what went well and what needs more time. I then map out my priorities for the following day and check to see what time adjustments need to be made.
2) I set the intention for my morning by taking time to journal or free write. This gives my brain time to declutter and allows me to decide what I want to create for myself throughout the day.
3) I set reminders for breaks, walking, and getting out of the house. Since I work from home it can be easy to spiral in to a work mode and never come up for air.
4) In addition to my to-do list, I also keep a success list of everything I accomplish throughout the day. This makes me feel good especially on days when I feel like I didn’t get anything done.
My morning routine is my way to set my day up for success. I need quiet, slow-pace mornings that allow me to visualize my day just the way I want it. Also, following my morning routine makes sure that when deadlines are piling up and I really need to get things done, my productivity doesn’t get affected since I mentally am in the right place.
These are some of my philosophies when working:
1. Work smarter, not harder. Basically, this means that you must commit 100% to the task before you move to something else. It may take you 3 hours to complete a task with multiple tabs opened to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. When instead, the task could have been completed in 1 hour if you had no distractions. Quality of work is far more important than quantity of work.
2. Make priority lists, not to do lists. Instead of simply writing out what needs to be done in your day, put your day’s tasks in order of most important to least. This will ensure you’re on top of your work and allow you to manage your time effectively.
3. Schedule it in. Create deadlines in your calendar for everything that needs to be completed. Not only will this remind you of what and when things need to be done, it will also ensure you don’t over-commit or forget things.
I work full-time and manage my blog and podcast as a side-hustler, so managing my time well is really important to me! At the start of each week, I perform a brain dump of all the tasks I intend to get done throughout the week both at work, and for my business. Then each day I create a daily to-do list based off of my weekly brain dump.
The first hour of my day is dedicated to taking care of my mindset to set me up for a productive day. During this first hour, I spend no time on my phone, and spend my time journaling, meditating, writing affirmations, setting my intentions for the day, and doing a short workout. After this initial hour I get ready for work and head to my 9-5.
At some point each day during the work day, I try to get in at least a 10 minute walk for exercise and to give my mind and body a break. Before leaving work each day, I create my to-do list for the evening, and schedule out what tasks I need to complete for my business.
When I get home from work, I give myself another “free hour” for reading, or relaxing before diving into my second workday. Then I usually spend a few hours each evening completing the tasks for my business I set out to complete at the end of my formal workday. When it’s time to go to bed, I like to wind down with tea, completing my skincare routine, and spending some time reading.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in nearly four years of running my online business full-time, it’s the importance of staying flexible and adapting your daily rhythm in each season. I try to set my days up for success by prioritizing the things I care about right away in the morning. Instead of reaching for my phone to scroll through my unread email messages or social media feeds, the first thing I do is read passages of scripture and take out my journal for a few minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing. It helps me reorient my soul and start the day with a fresh perspective. It’s too easy for me to prioritize everyone else’s to-do list before my own otherwise.
Throughout the day, I try to have little check-ins with myself. How am I feeling about the flow of my workday? How are those feelings translating into my productivity? I’m a big believer in assessing your energy levels because you can have all the time in the world, but without the energy to get things done, you won’t be able to use your time as wisely. Sometimes my mood and productivity can shift by making a small change to my environment. Something as simple as switching from my desk to a nearby couch, lighting a candle while I write copy for clients, or making a hot beverage can completely transform my day.
I like to look at my daily schedule as a loose outline. It has enough structure to help me stay disciplined but also has enough wiggle room so I don’t feel boxed in. I give myself one big goal to accomplish for the day and create a list of smaller tasks I want to get to throughout the week. How quickly I get done with those smaller tasks depends on my energy levels. This process changes and evolves over time, but that’s what I love about it.
Every morning starts the same: a few light body stretches, journaling and meditation. This morning routine sets me up for success because it helps me stay mindful throughout the day. Whether in my personal or professional life, I love writing things down to avoid forgetting anything. It also helps me keep my thoughts and to-do lists organized.
On weekdays, I work at my 9-5 job where I use a weekly and a daily to-do list. At the end of every day, I usually prepare my to-do list for the following day so that in the morning, I already know what I need to focus on. When it comes to my personal life, I use a Bullet Journal and a Passion Planner to stay organized.
To make sure that I feel accomplished while not overworking myself, whether in my personal or professional life, I try to limit the number of tasks that I schedule in a day so that I can feel fulfilled when I’ve been able to cross off most of my list. I also try to batch work whenever possible, which means focusing on one task for a specific amount of time and getting it done. This includes things like meal prepping and household chores, as well as social media planning or writing content for my blog.
Every day is different because I wear so many hats. The most helpful tool I use to schedule my day is Trello. I create a separate board for each project I’m working on. I can add endless columns, to-dos, details, images. I can even share each board and tag others involved and set deadlines. I also have a daily “TO DO” board that is the first thing I check each day with my morning cup of coffee. I love that I can access Trello from my phone, computer or iPad!
I keep it simple, I have 5 columns on this “TO DO” board: 1) Mandatory Today 2) Important Today 3) Mandatory Tomorrow 4) Important Tomorrow and lastly 5) On-Deck. I’ve discovered the importance of distinguishing mandatory tasks (things that maintain my business) from important tasks (things that grow my business).
Trello lets me prioritize my important, strategic tasks I need to get done alongside my urgent, maintenance tasks. As a task is completed in the today column, I can archive the card and then drag and drop a new card from the “tomorrow” column. Everything keeps moving to the left as my to-dos get completed. The board’s flow of completion sort of simulates a board game. For me, it’s more challenging and fun to work this way (not to mention organized!). If the “today” and “tomorrow” columns become empty with tasks, I pull more mandatory and important items from the on-deck column.
To me, success means managing all of the different things on my plate, but also respecting and nourishing my own needs. I work full-time in a corporate office, but also work part-time on my nutrition and wellness business. Most of my work involves being behind a screen, on social media, and working with people, so there are many elements to juggle and balance!
My mornings usually start at 6am with a sunlight alarm clock that wakes me up by mimicking the sun rising. This style of alarm clock has changed my mornings! Once I’m out of bed, I get ready for work and head down to the kitchen. I take my time making a delicious smoothie for breakfast, then I grab lunch and head out the door. If I’m feeling particularly stressed out, I will fit in a 10 minute meditation in the mornings.
In the corporate world, I have access to fancy tools and software to keep my to-do lists handy and manage projects; but in my own business, I love using the free Google apps, like Google Docs and Google Drive. For project management, I use Asana. It helps me keep track of things like blog posting and gives me deadlines when I work on larger nutrition programs.
In the evenings I schedule self-care time. I prioritize a nourishing homemade meal for me and my husband (yes this is self-care too!). We watch some Netflix together, but I end my day with some light reading or meditation. I’m usually in bed by 9:30 or 10pm so I can get my 8 hours of sleep and do it all over again!
My scheduling actually begins the night before. I use a planner to help me get setup for the following day or days in the week. I make sure to schedule some type of movement based activity (walking, yoga, or something more intense), write down my morning routine to help me stay committed to it, and add in my screen time boundaries and work to-do’s. Then in the morning, I peruse my planner as a reminder to stay on track.
Setting screen time boundaries was the most impactful activity I added to my routines. I make sure to not look at my phone until I’ve completed some type of morning activity, whether that be a workout or after breakfast. It helps me gather my thoughts and focus on my intention for the day, which are lately about using my time wisely. And recently, I started to set them up while I work too to support that intention.
My best time efficiency tips to find success are:
- Set screen time boundaries
- Plan for tomorrow today
- Say no to distractions that are unrelated to my project
- Make it fun! Use stickers, different colors, etc. in your planner (phone or physical) to add some flare
- Tell people you’re working to use your time wisely so your besties are supporting you!
I begin setting up my days for success the evening prior. I like to sit down at the end of every work day and create a general schedule, plan, and priorities list for my next work day. For me, this looks like reviewing my weekly to-do list, time-blocking for my overall schedule, and selecting three main priorities for the day. By keeping my daily to-do list minimal, I avoid overwhelm and actually boost the quality of my work and my overall productivity. I have also found that by preparing my daily schedule the evening prior, I create more room for the things I deeply need in my morning routine like movement, self-reflection, and self-care.
My day usually starts around 6:30 a.m. with some type of movement whether it be a walk, a circuit workout, or some acro-yoga. Afterwards, I like to treat my shower and skincare time as a mini sacred self-care routine. I take my time and really get grounded by breathing in some essential oils (one of my favorite parts of my morning). From there, I like to have a “power hour” where I make my breakfast (a kale + berry protein shake), read a book, and check in with my heart via my journal.
At 9 a.m. I sit down at my desk, immediately open up my bullet journal (that has already been filled out the evening prior), and get to work on the first task in my time-blocked schedule. I love sitting down at my desk in the morning free of overwhelm and distractions because I’ve taken the time to create my schedule beforehand. It’s honestly one of the biggest things that helps me stay consistent, productive, and driven.