I’ve always been a list maker. To-do lists, lists of my goals and plans, grocery lists, I’ve made them all. But I’ve learned that making a list can backfire on you. I would write my list, feel overwhelmed, and then, start picking off the easiest things because I didn’t know where else to start. This meant I was always busy but rarely marking off the big things on my list like writing books or achieving big goals. Over the years through learning from the experts and through plenty of trial and error of my own, I’ve learned there’s a better way. Today, my daily planning journal looks much different than the to-do lists I used years ago.
How the GGTMT Daily Planning Journal Works:
I like to use a spiral bound lined notebook. I prefer spiral bound because it stays open more easily. I use the Franklin Covey Better than a Yellow Pad Notebook because I like the smaller size and how it’s designed, but you can use anything, including a simple yellow pad. Don’t wait until you find the perfect journal before you can get started. Just grab whatever you have on hand.
I don’t like to think of my main list as a to-do list because then it feels like I need to do everything on the list. There are a lot of things we feel like we “should” do in a day, but this process is about spending our time on doing the best things, the things that will have the most impact. On this list I write down everything I can think of that I’d like to get done that day. I don’t edit myself on this list, and if I’m feeling overwhelmed, it will be long enough to have to also use my “notes” page.
My Top 3 List:
This is the most important part of the system. It’s too easy to get sucked into a habit of being constantly busy, but not spending time on things that are most important to us. Take a look at everything on your to-do list and identify one, two, or three (and definitely no more than three) things that are most important to get accomplished that day. I like to think about the end of the day and ask myself what things would leave me feeling the most satisfaction that I had gotten them done. Sometimes I choose something I’ve been procrastinating on, but I also make sure at least one of my items includes something that’s part of a bigger goal.
So you may be asking, what about everything else on the list? You’ll also get some of those things done throughout the day, but never at the expense of your big three. Once you start spending time on things that are most meaningful to you, you’ll likely find more time and energy for other things.
I also like to keep a page open for notes. It’s a place where I can jot down phone numbers, ideas, meeting notes, etc. This keeps everything in one place. It also keeps me from constantly searching for random slips of paper and post-it notes where I’ve written things down.
I should also note, that while I like to keep a paper Daily Planning Journal, I keep an electronic calendar. This works better for me because I always have the calendar on my phone with me and because it makes it possible for me to share calendar events with family members and co-workers.
I also like to list whatever habit I’m working on at the bottom of the page. Right now, my focus is on getting enough water.
That’s it. A simple system for organizing and prioritizing your day.