Daily planner open on outdoor table next to a cup of coffee and green plant.
Mind Time

Using a Daily Planner to Improve Time Management & Productivity

In my own very wrong thinking, I’ve always believed I was reasonably organized and decent at time management. In the past, I’ve taken pride in being a good judge of how much time it took me to complete something and leaving myself just enough time to meet the deadline. It took me hearing that method from someone else to realize how silly it sounds.

As far as my organizational skills, I rarely made lists or utilized a calendar. I would put important appointments in my phone’s calendar, but that’s it. I relied on my memory to keep track of what needed to be done. That ability went right out the window when our son was born.

So, here I am, returning to Four Walls of Fire to write about my battles with personal self improvement. Last time I blogged about something that needed improvement in my life, Gina and I managed to lower our grocery bill by nearly $200 per month!

After doing some research and listening to a number of time management podcasts, I decided my first attempt at improving would consist of a new daily planner. I ended up purchasing the Panda Planner Pro, which I’ll cover in a product review in the future (if I make time for it!).

Why a daily planner?

All of the research I did on productivity seemingly had one thing in common. Most highly productive people use daily planners instead of to-do lists.

The idea that I learned was that if I create a to-do list, I’ll quickly complete the easiest tasks and never make time for the more difficult tasks.

Notice that I’m using the word “daily planner” instead of “calendar”. A daily planner breaks down your entire day by the hour (unfortunately most don’t start until 6am, which is unfortunate for us military folk!) With that, I can plan my entire day by the hour and give myself specific times to complete each task. It’s almost like using a budget, but for your time!

How does it work?

The Panda Planner Pro has three sections: monthly, weekly, and daily.

The monthly section is simply a calendar where I write appointments and goals for the month.

The weekly is a little more unique. It has a section titled “Things I will do to Make This Week Great”, which has sections for personal, work, family/friends, and relationships. It also has sections for things I’m looking forward to, habits I’m focusing on developing, new things I want to learn, goals, and projects I’m working on.

The daily section is the bread and butter of the Panda Planner Pro. This section has space to write in 5 top priorities for the day, 10 tasks, and an hourly schedule from 6am until 9pm.

So far, I’ve been filling out the daily planner by first referring to my monthly section to see what appointments I have, then turning to the weekly planner to make sure I’m working on my goals and projects throughout my day.

Next, I fill in my tasks and top priorities for the day. By filling the planner out in this order, I’m able to plug my tasks and priorities for the day into time slots and schedule enough time to complete each task.

While it’s only been a few days, I will say that I have enjoyed using a planner thus far. I spend around 30 minutes each day writing and reviewing the planner. With that being said, I spend significantly less time worrying that I’m forgetting what needs to be done each day. Additionally, I’ve managed to complete tasks that I’m fairly certain would have never been completed had I not added them to my daily planner.

For now, utilizing a daily planner has been extremely beneficial for me. I’ll check in within a month or so with a full product review and give my recommendations!

What are your methods for staying productive, managing your time, and remaining organized? As always, I look forward to hearing your unique methods and advice!

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