Originally published October 19, 2016 // Updated September 8, 2020
How do you do it all?
People used to ask me this question a lot back when I was juggling teaching full time with freelance writing, blogging, running See Jane Write, exercising daily, and being a wife, daughter, sister, and friend.
Even now that I’m a full-time writerpreneur, people still want to know how I manage my time.
“What’s your secret?” they ask.
My answer: the Day Designer!
I believe that the keys to productivity are planning, process, and positive thinking — and the Day Designer helps with all three.
Every Sunday I use the Day Designer notebooks to make a list of all the things I have to do and want to do in all areas life for the upcoming week.
Next, I break out my planner and assign each task to a day of the week.
Simply making a long to-do list, though, isn’t enough to actually get things done. For that, you need a process. For me, process means scheduling exactly when I’m doing to do each task and the Day Designer daily planning page has a space for that, too. (Pro tip: Always overestimate how long it will take you do complete a task so you won’t find yourself faced with a time crunch.)
Scheduling when I will do each task not only keeps me on track but it also keeps me from trying to do too much in one day.
On Sunday, I schedule when I will do each of Monday’s tasks. On Monday night I schedule when I will do each of Tuesday’s tasks and so on.
The Day Designer daily planning page also includes a space for “Today’s Top Three.” Here you can list those three tasks of the day that you absolutely must complete. And let’s be honest, the things you must do are usually also the things you don’t want to do. And that’s why I try to do these things first. I eat the frog. Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that that is probably the worse thing you’re going to have to do all day.
Your “frog” is a task that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. Maybe it’s the biggest, most important task of your day. Perhaps it’s the most tedious or time-consuming. Maybe it’s the most intimidating. (For me it’s usually something like transcribing interviews.) Do this first. Eat that frog and everything else will “taste” like a piece of cake.
Let me be honest, being very busy can sometimes be very frustrating. Sometimes you just want to quit everything and sit on the sofa and watch TV and eat potato chips. And it’s because of this that I try to make thoughts of thankfulness a regular part of my day. The Day Designer planning page has space for you to jot down what you’re grateful for that day. Taking time to do this at the start or end of my day always dramatically shifts my mood.
Other features of the Day Designer that you might like include goal setting worksheets and charts to help you envision your ideal month, week, and day. Each planning page also features an inspirational quote for the day.
If you’re looking for a planner for next year, check out the 2021 Flagship edition of the Day Designer. Yes, the Day Designer is a bit pricey, but it’s worth every cent. Trust me!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a Day Designer using one of these links, I will receive a commission from the sale.