Like many working moms and entrepreneurs, I live by my to-do list. In fact, I have three different kinds of to-do lists, but it wasn’t until recently that I streamlined all three to become even more productive. But the life changer is my hourly daily planner.
Free Printable Hourly Daily Planner Template [PDF]
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Why you need an hourly daily planner
I have three, yes three, to-do lists. I used to just have one. I would write down things I needed to do that day, that week, or just things I wanted to do… sometime in the future. Yes, all of those things were mixed together on the same page. While I thought I was being very productive with my notebook and all my notes, I wasn’t.
It wasn’t until I heard podcast episode #126 of Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy with April and Eric Perry of Learn Do Become that I decided to change my ways.
To some, having three different to-do lists or planners may sound like overkill, but it allows me to get more done in less time and with less stress. This is how I do it.
Long term planner
We all have things we want to do and plan to do, but either don’t want to do them right now or don’t need to do them right now. This is where I thank another podcaster, Dana Malstaff from Boss Mom, for suggesting this tool – Trello.
Never heard of Trello? Well, imagine your Pinterest boards. You have one for home decor, one for fashion, and one for healthy snacks. Trello looks just like this, except home decor is “marketing ideas,” fashion is “things to add to my website,” healthy snacks is “client ABC.” Then, when you click on that board, instead of seeing mirrors, dresses, and carrots, you see your list of things to in an organized checklist with links, documents, pictures, etc.
I don’t go into Trello too much. The only time I log in is when I’m ready to start a task that’s been sitting in there for a while or to add something to my list of things that aren’t urgent. But some people, like Dana, can’t survive without it.
My good friend and colleague Michelle uses it on a daily basis to keep her team on the same page, so to speak, and her client work organized. Her team and clients can access certain parts of the board and leave notes eliminating the need for email.
My weekly planner is just a page in my notebook. Yes, that’s it. I know it doesn’t sound too spectacular, but it is. It just sits on my desk beside me. I cross things off, add things to it, and it helps me function. Without it, my mind would be lost!
Okay, this is where the change was made for me – not just in my daily planner, but my HOURLY daily planner. I realized that by looking at my weekly planner, I was just picking and choosing what to do, when I wanted to do it. Yes, I would prioritize a little bit, but it wasn’t working. Even though I was accomplishing some things, it wasn’t as much as I wanted and it didn’t feel like much. Now, I break down my weekly list from my notebook into actionable goals daily, then hourly.
I’m a bit of a planner addict and when I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I created it. (And I’m sharing it with you!) Assigning something for me to do on a certain day was a big help, but as a small business owner, I wear a lot of hats and have a lot to do, so I need to schedule specifics. When you time out your daily schedule AND write it down, you are more likely to achieve it. That’s exactly why this method works for me.
I don’t only have each hour accounted for between the hours of 8am and 10pm, but I also have space to remind myself what I need to do, where I need to be, and who I need to talk to. (The best part? Crossing it off the list when it’s done!)
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I like to compare this strategy to working out. When you say, “I’ll go to the gym this week,” you’ll put it off. If you say, “I’ll go to the gym today,” you might go. When you say, “I’ll go to the gym today at 3 o’clock,” you are more likely to work out because it is a solid plan instead of something you plan on getting to later.
Don’t over plan. Give yourself some buffer time in-between tasks. Overscheduling is the worst, especially if you want to be more productive and more organized. I try to under schedule myself, then add later if there is time. (Try being the keyword.)
Now, what are you waiting for?! Sign up so I can email you my free printable hourly daily planner template PDF!