No time? Listen to it instead
The first thing I do each morning is to go over my todo list for the day. I’ve done this for over two years now. The idea is to get a realistic view of the day and manage my expectations for me.
On most days, I know how energetic I am (and will be) from the moment I wake up. Working out increases that to some extent but overall, when you know, you know.
I also have allergic rhinitis that comes and goes on its own, which sets the tone of the day, to be honest, because I’m sneezing half the day. That’s what I wanted to talk about in this article: how I plan my day.
I’ve previously talked about how I use a combination of apps to create an Eisenhower Matrix without actually making one. While I recommend you go through the entire thing, a quick recap is in order.
Talking only about the horizontal squares of the matrix, I use Todoist to manage tasks that must be done as soon as possible and Google Calendar Goals to manage my habits.
The latter consists of working out, reading, learning a language and brain training. So, let’s look at the day in terms of Bare Minimum, Day Tasks, and Extra Credit.
What Is A Task?
For me, anything that I have to set time aside to do is a task. That means even a small favour that someone asks of me becomes a task on my todo list. That’s so I don’t forget about it. If I can’t do it in time, I let them know usually. Beyond that, from tiny bits of content to make to large projects, everything is broken down into smaller tasks. Also, errands.
Bare Minimum: Habits
My goal for each day is to get the bare minimum done.
The bare minimum is only just getting a workout in, making sure I do a session on Elevate, read at least a page, learn a language on Duolingo, and review my finances at night I added Duolingo in January 2020. This is also my morning routine, usually minus the finances which always happens at night.
On most days, and I’m not kidding when I say this happens at least once a week, I end up doing only these tasks and nothing else for the day barring one or two mandatory, super-urgent tasks.
That’s because these are the only things that will make sure my long-term goals stay afloat. This is the bottom line. Everything else can wait a day.
Once I’m done with the above every day, that’s when the actual day begins. That’s where these tasks come in.
Now, since I use Todoist, I use a priority system with tasks. If you’re familiar, you can skip the next paragraph. Else I’ll draw out an explainer below.
A priority system for task management usually has a scale of 1 to 4. Tasks assigned Priority 1 are the most important ones. Priority 4 are the least important ones. That doesn’t mean you won’t do Priority 4 tasks.
In a sentence, you’d say:
“Out of all things I had to do today, Priority 4 is what I’ll do in the end.”
Anyway, now that the priority system is out there. This is how I assign priorities to tasks:
- Only Two Priority 1 Tasks - Only One Priority 2 Task - Only One Priority 3 Task - Leftovers Are Priority 4 Tasks
The Priority 4s are never entirely done through the day and go to the next one often. Todo list zero is a difficult thing to meet even when you’re conscious of planning it because there’s always some unforeseen uncertainty in the day as there should be.
If my friends ask to meet up, and if I can say yes, I do it. It almost always pays to say yes. Tasks can wait a few hours.
Extra credit is what I call the unexpected things that come up during the day itself. It’s kind of like a side quest that appears when you’re playing an RPG game. A random person gives you a task, and you can take it or leave it. If you stray from the main mission to do it, that’s extra credit.
Putting It Together
When I first go over my day in the morning, I look at my Calendar, see my Bare Minimum tasks followed by the Day Tasks peppered over throughout the day.
Then, I gauge what I can realistically do that day depending on whether I overslept, how I feel, if I have to meet someone or not, and so on. Then, I cut tasks down to what I can do irrespective of how many there were on the list.
The things I can’t do are postponed. Rest are prioritized and reordered. No day is a bad day because I usually stay on top of things.
While this seems like a super complex idea, in practice, it’s a five-minute thing every day, but the clarity it provides makes sure I mark each day as green when I go to sleep. Since January, I’ve had three terrible days, four bad days, fifteen average days, and the rest are all green. I’ve also gotten a lot done this year. I was also holding a full-time job till August. Five minutes go a long way.
For the past couple of years, I’ve actively planned and reviewed my days in three different sections. On most days, I do the bare minimum and nothing else. It’s not a complex plan. It’s simply: habits, tasks, unexpected help. We can bite off more than we can chew on some days. But on most days, we should do what we reasonably, practically can. No one can stay supremely productive throughout the year. When you balance it nicely and zoom out in December, though, you see someone who gets things done.
If you liked this post, you’ll like the newsletter which also reminds you of the previous week’s post. Also, if you’re absolutely inclined, consider buying me a coffee from that button down there to help support this website. Most important of all, please take care of yourself and those around you. These are trying times and I wish you all the health in the world.